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That Landmine Thing: Students Take on the Landmine Crisis

Updated Wednesday, 18-Sep-2013 09:29:08 EDT

Adopt-A-Minefield and Landmine Survivors Network developed a program called "That Landmine Thing" to raise money to help solve the worldwide landmine problem. Middle and high school students from all over the world have raised more than $180,000 (U.S.) for the cause.

Adopt-A-Minefield® and Landmine Survivors Network have joined forces to create That Landmine Thing, a student campaign involving thousands of young people from across North America interested in mine action. That Landmine Thing is an international fundraising campaign created for and by students to help clear minefields, assist survivors and raise awareness about the landmine problem. Since its inception, the campaign has been incredibly successful, involving nearly 1,000 schools and raising over $180,000—clearing four minefields in Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as providing survivors with appropriate medical care and the means to establish a livelihood.


Campaign contributions fund demining operations like the one seen here in Bosnia.

The collaborative venture of AAM and LSN was born out of the crossover between the philosophies and missions of the two organizations. Adopt-A-Minefield clears minefields so roads can be rebuilt, land can once again be farmed and refugees can return safely home. Landmine Survivors Network assists survivors in obtaining appropriate medical care, rehabilitation, peer support, job training and human rights advocacy training. There is a natural symbiosis between these two objectives, and AAM and LSN have found a way to work in cooperation, benefiting each organization, the students, and the mine-affected communities they serve.

AAM and LSN, along with the International Baccalaureate North America Office,1 invited IB schools throughout North America to participate in a region-wide creative and action-oriented service project to raise funds for mine action. The response from IB students was so successful that a minefield was cleared in Pursat, Cambodia, and various LSN survivor assistance programs were funded as well. Thanks to the efforts of the students, 60 families in Pursat were able to return to their previously mined land to farm the rice fields that serve as their main source of food and income.

Student Funds in Action

Clearing minefields. Collectively, That Landmine Thing has funded the clearance of nearly 120,000 square meters (30 acres) of land, saving lives and returning land to productive use.

In Cambodia, the clearance of two sites in Battambang province has allowed families to resettle on safe land with access to fertile farmland to sustain their families. The clearance of a road in Pursat province has connected three previously isolated villages, allowing commerce and development.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the clearance of a minefield in Mostar will allow refugees who fled this area during the war to return and cultivate their land.

A survivor's story. Nearly four years after his injury, Fadil Bisanovic did not trust anyone and had shut himself down emotionally. LSN staff visited him often and they began working together to chart a path to recovery. Through regular support and encouragement from an LSN outreach worker, Bisanovic was able to rent a house for his family, dramatically improving their living conditions. Next, Bisanovic and LSN began to work on finding a way for him to continue to support his family. With the help of his family, Bisanovic built a chicken coop. LSN bought him 150 small chickens and a supply of food and medicine to care for them. Currently, Bisanovic's wife and children help with the business. His business is going so well, he was able to give 132 pounds of chicken meat to a local school for children with physical and psychological disabilities. Today, Bisanovic and his family are successful producers of quality chicken, which they sell to grocery stores and nearby restaurants.

The two organizations have demonstrated that the landmine issue is a natural draw for students. By participating in a fundraising campaign for mine action, students are developing critical thinking and leadership skills, tapping into their creativity, and learning about community, teamwork and service. By studying the impact of landmines around the world and doing something to solve the problem, students become true global citizens. Many have written to tell us how they feel empowered by making a difference in the world at such a young age. One student even wrote to say that her involvement with the campaign gained her access to every college on her wish list. Teachers have reported that they love the campaign as well because they are able to incorporate campaign material into academic subjects such as geography, social studies, cultural studies and political science.

Each year, students across North America think of new, imaginative ways to raise money for global landmine clearance and victim assistance. Students have held dinners in their homes to raise awareness about landmine issues, run coin drives and hosted benefit concerts such as the "Rock In the Music, Roll Out the Mines" concert, planned by the students at South Salem High School of Salem, Oregon, featuring five local rock bands. During the concert, the students also held a silent auction to raise additional funds. Two schools in Florida beat the heat by holding car washes to raise funds in their battle against landmines. Children from Canada and California stayed up well past their bedtime during "Stay-Awake-a-Thons." We heard reports of all-night movies and ice-skating parties to raise money for the cause, and one group showed a PowerPoint presentation on their school's television station.

But our very favorite campaign story is the one of the innovative young men at Upper Canada College (Toronto, Canada) who worked with an herbalist to develop, produce and market their own line of all-natural and organic creams, lip balms, and lotion (Blue Crush Creams). These boys learned not only how to create their products from scratch and package them using minimal, recyclable packaging, but also how to run their own business and use cause marketing to perform community service at the same time. By incorporating science, math, business and economic principles into their program, they were able to raise an impressive amount of money while expanding their abilities, knowledge and experience.

These stories are only a few of the amazing programs conducted by schools across North America in the past four years to support Adopt-A-Minefield and Landmine Survivors Network. With each school event, support for the issue grows, and more importantly, awareness for this worldwide crisis builds. In just a short time, That Landmine Thing students have become models for how we can work together to educate our communities and make a difference.


Students being honored for their hard work and dedication to the campaign.

That Landmine Thing is now in its fourth year of working with the IB students and is expanding to other schools. Its newsletter—also named That Landmine Thing—helps teachers incorporate the material into their curricula to expose students to fresh information. Funds raised in the program clear minefields and help landmine survivors regain their lives. The campaign strengthens schools, allows students to act as a collective force and creates global citizens. But perhaps most importantly for these students, the campaign allows them to actively participate in eliminating one of the world's most pressing humanitarian challenges before even graduating from high school—the global landmine problem.

*All photos by Zach Hudson.

Biographies

Zach Hudson is the outreach and communications coordinator for Adopt-A-Minefield. In this capacity, he is the main contact for all of the ongoing national grassroots AAM campaigns. Zach also heads the AAM student campaign, a network of schools working together across the world to raise funds to clear landmines and assist survivors. Additionally, Zach manages the AAM communications, including the AAM seasonal newsletter, The Deminer.

Karla Fuentes is the institutional advancement associate for Landmine Survivors Network. As such, Karla coordinates LSN's student outreach efforts and assists in production of LSN's monthly newsletter, the Survivor Report. She graduated from The George Washington University with degrees in International Affairs and Political Science.

Endnote

  1. For more information about the International Baccalaureate North America Office see http://www.ibo.org/ibo/index.cfm. Accessed Nov. 1, 2005.

Contact Information

Zach Hudson
Adopt-A-Minefield
UNA-USA
801 Second Ave
New York, NY 10017
USA
Tel: +1 212-907-1305
E-mail: zhudson@unausa.org

Karla Fuentes
Landmine Survivors Network
1420 K Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
USA
Tel: +1 202 464 0007
Fax: +1 202 464 0011
E-mail: info@landminesurvivors.org