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It is estimated that 350,000 tons of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) remains scattered throughout Vietnam from the war that ended in 1975, resulting in more than 1,000 people being wounded or killed each year.
In an effort to reduce the threat of these lethal remnants of the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund initiated Project RENEW, a cooperative effort between the Memorial Fund and the Quang Tri Province People's Committee, aimed at Restoring the Environment and Neutralizing the Effects of War.
Initiated in December 2000, the project focuses on mine awareness education and victims assistance in Quang Tri Province's Trieu Phong District. During the Vietnam War, Quang Tri Province was divided by the Demilitarized Zone and as a result, was the most heavily bombed and shelled area of Vietnam. The Trieu Phong District is the most densely populated area in the province and was an area of heavy fighting during the war up to 1975.
Several significant steps have been taken to help the Vietnamese lead productive lives. Quang Tri Television airs public service announcements showing the dangers of landmines and UXO during nightly newscasts, childrens programming and other key times. Since the public service announcements began airing in March 2002, only three people have been injured by explosions in Trieu Phong District.
A partnership with the Youth Union, a well-organized network of Vietnamese young adults who meet regularly for social and civic activities, has worked to influence changing behaviors toward the areas throughout Quang Tri Province known to have landmines and UXO. Through coordination with the Youth Union, Project RENEW has organized community camping events, parades, art performances and painting competitions in several communes, with games and plays used as effective tools to highlight mine awareness messages.
Efforts by Project RENEW staff also have involved working with health care stations in Trieu Phong District communes, upgrading the medical systems through the provision of first aid medical equipment and supplies, and the training of local healthcare workers in first aid skill in an effort to enhance successful outcomes for victims of landmines and UXO.
To assist families that have been victims of landmines and UXO, Project RENEW has launched a mushroom growing project in Trieu Phong District in partnership with the Trieu Phong Farmers Union. Through the project, many families now have sustainable employment and incomes.
For more information about Project RENEW, please visit www.landmines.org.vn/index.html or contact the Memorial Fund at (202) 393-0090 or via email at ProjectRENEW@vvmf.org. To support Project RENEW, visit our Donate page.