|Volume 11, Issue 1||Interchange||April 2001|
NGO Profile: PeaceTrees Vietnam
Mission statement and history of organization:
PeaceTrees Vietnam, the 19th international PeaceTrees program of the Earthstewards Network, was founded in 1995 as a grass roots effort in healing and reconciliation with the people of Quang Tri Province, one of the most war-torn provinces of Vietnam. PeaceTrees' vision of "working alongside the people of Vietnam to reverse the consequences of war" includes: sponsorship of clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance; citizen diplomacy/tree-planting programs for environmental restoration and friendship building for American and international volunteers working with Vietnamese citizens; landmine awareness education programs for children to prevent further accidents; victim assistance to landmine survivors and their families; and economic development, community restoration and relocation projects.
Since 1996, in cooperation with the People's Committee of Quang Tri Province, PeaceTrees has sponsored clearance of more than 28 acres of the former US Marine Combat Base in Dong Ha Town and organized efforts by international volunteers and Vietnamese citizens to plant 5,000 trees on the cleared land. In 1998, the Danaan Parry Landmines Education Center was built for the children of Quang Tri Province. Mines awareness education, as well as medical assistance for survivors, is carried out through this center in cooperation with the Vietnamese Committee for Protection and Care of Children. In 2000, PeaceTrees assisted Catholic Relief Services in creating the Art Exhibit of Quang Tri Province Landmine Survivor Children in Hanoi, in honor of the US Presidential visit. Plans for 2001 include expanding the mines awareness outreach programs, ongoing landmine/UXO clearance, citizen diplomacy/tree-planting programs, and building recreation facilities for the local people.
In 2000, clearance efforts of 38 additional acres on the former combat base prepared the way for "PeaceTrees Friendship Village," with homes for 100 families, many of whom have suffered landmine/UXO accidents. In cooperation with the Dong Ha Town People's Committee, groundbreaking ceremonies took place in late February with participation of a 16-member American-British volunteer team, including five American veterans. The two-year project will require $385,000 to complete, and will include new roads, water, electricity, a kindergarten and community hall, a dam and sports field. The Semper Fidelis Society, a service organization of former US Marines in Jacksonville, Florida, is partnering with PeaceTrees Vietnam in fundraising efforts.
PeaceTrees welcomes volunteer tree-planters for its September 2001 citizen diplomacy mission to Quang Tri Province, and invites partnerships in building "PeaceTrees Friendship Village" and in sponsoring continuing landmine clearance and mines awareness education for children.
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