Golden Church Makes Global Issue Local with Potluck Fundraiser (Scotland)


St. Andrew's United Church is trying to help rid the world of landmines and wants your help to do so. The church is hosting a potluck supper on Friday, March 30, to raise funds for landmine removal in Cambodia.


(23.03.2007)

"There's almost 40,000 square metres of minefields being cleared in the name of the United Church in Kampong Cham province in Cambodia," explains United Church board member and event organizer Margaret Telford. "This particular area has taken the lives of 27 people, mutilated seven others and killed 25 domesticated animals."

Telford says losing just the animals is devastating for local populations, as they depend on them for food and labour, while injuries sustained by victims are often quite severe, resulting in the loss of limbs.

"We welcome the community to come and join us and learn about this," Telford says. She says bring a potluck item to share and money for the donation box.

The United Church of Canada raised $51,330 last year to go towards Cambodia's landmine clearing project.

But the United Church is just one of many organizations and individuals that has taken on the task of hosting a similar fundraiser. These dinners collectively are called "Night of 1,000 Dinners", and happen between March 1 and April 4, throughout the world.

The Night of 1,000 Dinners is managed by the Adopt-A-Minefield Association, an international entity with connections around the world.

Spokesman Paul Faucette says the fundraiser idea was actually started by the Canadian branch of Adopt-A-Minefield in 2001. Since then, the concept has spread, with dinners hosted in 39 countries last year.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 70-80 million landmines in the ground in upwards of 90 countries, killing or maiming approximately 10,000 civilians every year, or one every 22-60 minutes, according to Adopt-A-Minefield.

In Cambodia, there have been an estimated 159,153 casualties from landmines. Adopt-A-Minefield's website states the Cambodian government is committed to eradicating landmines but needs international support. Adopt-A-Minefield began mine clearance work in Cambodia in 1999.

"We wanted to have an impact over a long period of time, so we decided to focus on six countries for a number of years," Faucette says.

Along with Cambodia, the organization is working in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Mozambique and Vietnam to eradicate landmines. Most of the money which goes towards clearing has been raised by the Night of 1,000 Dinners.

"There's thousands of Canadians involved in the Night of 1,000 Dinners," Faucette says. "Around the world, we have tens of thousands who participate."

Faucette says one major concern with landmines is what it does to the poorest communities.

"You have a limited access to land with landmines and a community becomes paralyzed," Faucette says.

As landmines are cleared, the land can be used for farming. Roads and irrigation systems can be built or rebuilt and development projects such as schools can move forward.

He explains that even in places where war conflict has ended, such as in Cambodia, the destruction continues. Faucette says there is quite a bit of clearing to be done in Cambodia and they hope to have it landmine free within the next few years.

Globally, more than $4 million has been raised from these annual events since 2001. According to the organization, every dollar raised from the annual fundraiser goes to the United Nations and their partners for landmine projects.

"We do encourage Canadians to help with the initiative, to continue to work towards making Cambodia a safe place," Faucette says.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?

If you would like to find out more about Adopt-A-Minefield, visit their website at www.landmines.org. If you would like to take part in the potluck supper at St. Andrew's United Church, it happens Friday, March 30, at 6 p.m. at 901, 11 Ave. S. For more information, call 344-6117.

From Adopt-A-Minefield:

Landmines can be laid anywhere, including roads, paths, fields, buildings, waterways, bridges, forests and deserts
They cost as little as $3 to produce and can cost up to $1,000 to remove Chidren are particularly vulnerable to landmines. Their small size places them closer to the source of a mine's explosion and, consequently, they often sustain more severe injuries than adults
At least 70 per cent of reported landmine victims are civilians.

Von: 21.03.2007 www.thegoldenstar.net

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