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March 2, 2011

The following is an important article written by Project Renew, 103 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street Dong Ha City,  Quang Tri Province, Viet Nam

Cam Lo, Quang Tri (Dec. 13, 2010): Primary students at the Ho Chon Nhon Primary school in Cam Lo District, Quang Tri Province, a total of 250 of children ages 6 to 10, started their new week of learning today with an information session on the dangers of bombs and mines left over from the war that ended more than 35 years ago.

Within the space of one hour, the students were taught basic identification of unexploded ordnance (UXO) which is regularly found throughout Quang Tri Province. They learned about the tragic aftermath of UXO accidents for the victims and their families. They were warned about dangerous behaviors that lead to UXO accidents, and the message of safety – safety first – was emphasized over and over. They were encouraged to report UXO sightings to Project RENEW’s EOD teams or to local Youth Union volunteers via the free-toll hotline telephone number provided by Project RENEW.

“This training session is really useful for me and my friends, to help us avoid being killed or wounded by deadly UXO,” said Tran Thi Kieu Trinh, a fifth grade student. “And it is interesting to learn with these wooden UXO samples.” Trinh was pointing to the wooden scale models of bombs and mines lying on the table beside the instructor.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Anh Thu, Deputy Chief of Cam Lo townlet’s Youth Union, who facilitated the training today, realistic images and wooden miniatures of UXO are the most practical and effective teaching aids. “We see young students get excited about the realism of the wooden samples of UXO, which help them visualize accurately what UXO really look like,” said Thu. “Integrating UXO risk education into daily school curriculum is easy and it’s a very effective teaching method,” she added.

During the past three months, 25,000 young students aged six to ten years, in the two districts of Trieu Phong and Cam Lo, have benefited from risk education campaigns conducted by Project RENEW’s Community Reporting Network (CRN), a collaboration model that combines community participation in UXO safety awareness at the grassroots level with a strong information network that channels timely reports of UXO to EOD teams, trained RENEW professionals who come and safely remove and destroy the ordnance.

Totaling 380 collaborators who include Youth Union officials and village chiefs, the CRN has raised the level of public safety awareness while actively gathering and reporting ERW information quickly and accurately to two EOD Quick Response Teams. The EOD teams are working with the technical assistance of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), one of RENEW’s project partners. During a recent three-month period, 68 cluster bombs, mortars, grenades and projectiles were safely destroyed thanks to UXO sightings and other information passed on from the CRN.

Despite extensive clearance efforts by military and international NGOs, thousands of UXO still remain on and under the ground, posing an imminent threat to the daily activities of local people, especially children. A province-wide survey conducted by Project RENEW indicates that children account for 31% of all UXO casualties in Quang Tri Province since 1975.

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