The Marshall Legacy Institute

open pdf of this article

Marshall Legacy Institute

The Marshall Legacy Institute is a Virginia-based nonprofit organization formed in 1997 to extend the vision of Nobel Peace Prize laureate George C. Marshall by alleviating suffering and promoting hope, growth and stability in war-torn countries. For many nations, a primary obstacle to achieving sustainable progress is the deadly legacy of landmines that halt agricultural production, slow development, impede the return of refugees, and kill and injure innocent citizens.

Thus, MLI’s primary mission is to establish practical, affordable and sustainable indigenous programs to help severely mine-affected countries rid their land of the scourge of landmines. MLI operates three programs: the Mine Detection Dog Partnership Program, which provides Mine Detection Dogs to accelerate the pace of mine-clearance operations; the Survivors’ Assistance program, which helps those who have been injured by landmines; and the Children Against Mines Program (CHAMPS), which works with children to raise awareness about landmines, assist landmine survivors, promote mine-risk education, donate Mine Detection Dogs and promote global citizenship.

MLI Programs
MLI’s humanitarian programs have enjoyed many successes. As of February 2012, MLI’s Mine Detection Dog Partnership Program has generated millions of dollars from private and public sources to sponsor 170 lifesaving Mine Detection Dogs which are then donated to indigenous demining organizations in 11 countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Eritrea, Iraq, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka and Thailand. A portion of the funding received from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs (PM/WRA) has helped provide crucial MDD team integration training for local handlers and their new MDDs. Utilizing the MDD’s excellent sense of smell to detect explosive odors present in landmines, a typical MDD team can search upwards of 1,500 square meters (1,640 square yards) of land a day and can greatly accelerate the pace of mine-clearance operations when combined with other demining assets.

MLI places a high value on educational outreach programs to American schoolchildren. Since CHAMPS was launched in 2004, MLI’s CHAMPS team has traveled to hundreds of schools around the United States with a retired canine ambassador to educate children on the landmine problem and encourage them to get involved in the humanitarian initiative. The children have responded with great enthusiasm: CHAMPS kids have sponsored 27 of the 170 MDDs, which are serving in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, Lebanon and Sri Lanka. MLI has also electronically connected CHAMPS kids in the U.S. to schools in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, Lebanon and Vietnam, and the American children have raised money to help hundreds of mine survivors in those countries. Since launching CHAMPS in Afghanistan in 2008, more than 100 mine survivors in Laghman and Samangan provinces have been helped, and tens of thousands of members of the local population in the two provinces have received mine-risk education from Afghan CHAMPS students.

MLI has offered additional assistance by providing computer and other vocational training opportunities to mine survivors in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, and training to medical professionals in Armenia and Iraq. MLI is currently partnering with the Mine Detection Dog Center in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the International Trust Fund Enhancing Human Security to implement a mine-risk education program in Bosnia with members of the Bosnian Fantomi Sitting Volleyball Team, who are themselves survivors of war.

Organization and Participation

MLI has a 15-member board of directors and a seven-member international advisory committee. The organization has eight staff members involved in the day-to-day work of its Virginia office. MDD donors include PM/WRA, the U.S. Department of Defense, foundations, Rotary Clubs, companies, individual caring donors and schoolchildren. Donors can sponsor MDDs, fund a child survivor’s recovery, help with general expenses, or initiate a CHAMPS campaign in local schools. The organization also holds an annual gala each fall, and the money raised contributes to MLI’s annual budget of about US$2.2 million.

MLI’s Future

Landmines unfortunately continue to leave a horrific legacy, and MLI will continue to fulfill its mission statement to alleviate suffering and promote hope, growth and stability in war-torn countries around the world. J

~ Elise Becker, MLI and Rachael Weber, CISR staff



Contact Information

Elise Becker
VP – Operations
Marshall Legacy Institute
2425 Wilson Blvd., Suite 240
Arlington, VA 22201 / USA
Tel: +1 703 243 9200
Fax: +1 703 243 9701

Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA 22807 / USA