Music helps rid Laos of landmines

SIOBHAN Collie recently returned home from the trip of a lifetime.
Nanjing Night Net

The Guildford musician last year partnered with Vietnam veteran Gary Bridgeland to host a music benefit at the Guildford Hotel.

The event was hugely successful and raised more than $12,000 to go towards clearing landmines in Laos.

Ms Collie was able to see the good work first hand during a four-week tour of Laos, the most densely bombed region on the planet, in November/December last year. “I took lots of photos and sort of gathered information,” Ms Collie said.

“I just really kind of checked the whole place out and checked out what the Mines and Victims Clearance Trust was doing as well.”

Ms Collie said the thing that struck her the most about Laos was the extreme poverty.

“The Americans did what they said they were going to do,” she said.

“I forget which politician said it, ‘We’re going to bomb them back into the stone age’.

“Well, they’re still in the stone age 40 years later.

“They live in bamboo houses and they’ve got dirt floors.”

Ms Collie visited the village of Ban Xai and has been inspired to continue to support MiVAC’s project work.

“Ban Xai is a village which hasn’t been able to plant rice for two generations,” she said.

“Traditional agricultural skills are being lost.

“MiVAC has a role in supporting this process as well as providing training and education for the local village kids.”

MiVAC was started by a couple of Australian Vietnam veterans who cleared landmines in Vietnam.

Between 1964 and 1973 Laos was hit by an average of one B-52 bomb load every eight minutes, 24 hours a day.

Of the 260 million bombs that rained down, some 80 million failed to explode leaving a deadly legacy rural villagers must contend with every day.

Projects undertaken by MiVAC include training local residents in bomb disposal, building and supporting local orphanages, schools and hospitals and clearing cluster munitions from children’s playgrounds and from surrounding rice fields.

MiVAC aslo offers villagers development support to re-establish agricultural practice.

“It was amazing to see the work they are doing and know that the money we raised here in Guildford is having such an incredible impact on people’s lives so far away,” Ms Collie said.

After the success of last year’s benefit, Ms Collie and co-organiser Gary Bridgland held another fundraising benefit concert at the weekend.

The two-day event was at the Newstead Racecourse and featured performances by local musicians.

To find out more about Ms Collie’s cause, visitwww.facebook南京夜网/LandmineClearanceBenefit

Siobhan Collie

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