Cleaning up what’s left after a war

During the Vietnam War, fighters dropped more than 400,000 tons of sub-munitions over the country. Today much land remains dangerous to farm 
and civilians continue to be injured from unexploded ordnance. Since the war ended in 1975, more than 100,000 people have been maimed or killed by unexploded bombs and landmines. This all kept Mary Crawford very busy during her internship in Quang Tri.Mary Crawford in Hanoi

As a Master of Development Practice (MDP) student, Crawford had access to fieldwork opportunities around the world. Yet Mary chose to pave a unique road and organized an internship via Mines Action Canada

Although it was more work, it was important to work in my preferred field and gain the necessary skills for future employment.

Mines Action Canada placed the graduate student with their partner, Norwegian People’s Aid in Vietnam. While in Hanoi, Mary worked alongside local staff to clear undetonated explosives left over from the war. Clearing mines was a moving experience and has helped make more areas of the province safe for local people: 

Working alongside these incredible men and women who are physically destroying the remnants of the war is inspiring. Their work is so important to reducing the number of civilian casualties and allowing Vietnam to heal from the legacy of war.

Minesweeping in HanoiAs a Canadian, Crawford is particularly invested in seeing an end to the use, stockpiling and production of land mines. Indeed, while Canadians led the campaign to draft the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, much remains to be done around the world: 

It is possible to have a mine-free world by 2025. Therefore it is key that Canada - the founder of the Ottawa Treaty - see this through.

For those of you with a humanitarian itch of your own, Mary has nothing but encouragement:

Get involved as much as you can. There is no telling where life will take you, but the skills you gain from volunteering have a lot of weight in the outside world. You never know what will come in handy in the future.

After completing her Master's degree next year, Mary plans to continue her work in disarmament through an international development organization, such as Project Ploughshares.

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