Quang Tri, Vietnam & Maryland, USA, March 11, 2010:
In a parnership with Amnesty International USA, twenty paintings drawn by children who live in unexploded ordance (UXO) affected areas in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam will be shown in an April 2010 exhibition of the Amnesty International Human Right Arts Festival.
The paintings will be hang from April 12 to April 28, 2010 in Montgomery College Cafritz Hallway Gallery, Maryland, USA.
These paintings were submitted via a “bombs and mine drawing” contest, one of the many risk education activities within Project RENEW’s integrated Mine Risk Education in support of mobile Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) operations.
From March to December 2009, under funding from the DoS, Project RENEW expanded its integrated risk education into Cam Lo District with the aim of reducing the risk of ERW accidents among children and adults through education, information, and public awareness in support of EOD quick response. A new Community Reporting Network (CRN) was established with the partnership of grassroots Youth Union officers as its core to combine community participation in UXO safety at the grassroots level with a strong mechanism for reporting findings of ERW that constitute a danger to local residents. As a result, the CRN has raised the level of public safety awareness while actively gathering and reporting ERW information quickly and accurately to EOD Quick Response Teams which have been trained and organized by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), a major donor and technical partner to Project RENEW. These teams then respond on a priority basis to the sites where ERW have been reported, with appropriate and safe interventions, to neutralize live threats to the community. Notebly, approximately 13,413 residents were instructed on UXO safety, dangerous behaviors that trigger UXO accidents, and how to report UXO findings. By the end of 2009, 152 UXO findings were passed on to the EOD teams via the CRN and Project RENEW’s toll-free hotline telephone, resulting in 300 UXO being safely destroyed.
The twenty paintings which will be displayed in the exhibition stand out among the paintings submitted from children enrolling in 25 elementary and secondary schools in Cam Lo District. The purpose of this drawing contest is to help students express their creativity with ideas about an environment free from UXO. This also helps to educate children about the dangers of ERW, drawing on their responsibility in the community common efforts in disseminating risk education messages. A total of 5,632 paintings were submitted, presenting different topics on dangerous behaviors leading to ERW incidents, the legacies of the war, existing UXO, and risk education outreach activities at the local level.
It is expected that the display of children’s paintings of bombs and mine through their own eyes will raise awareness of the exhibit goers as well as American public general about the lingering impact of UXO in Vietnam. More importantly, these paintings might be sold or given away for a donation to help Project RENEW constantly reinforce risk education and safety messages.
Over three decades after the war ended in Vietnam, UXO continues to kill and maim local people, especially for children. Born after the war, they are tragically at risk because of their restless nature and limited awareness of the hazards of UXO. According to a KAP survey conducted in 2006 by Project RENEW, 31% of the total casualties of UXO accidents that occurred in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam since the war ended in 1975 were children.
Project RENEW is a mine-clearance and public-safety program collaboratively developed by VVMF and the Quang Tri Province People’s Committee. It focuses on safely removing and destroying ordnance, as well as mine-risk education; provision of medical assistance and artificial limbs; vocational training and income generation for disabled families; and community outreach.