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Repairing the Land After War

Ted Lieverman | Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Bosnia

Quang Tri Province, Vietnam – A Project RENEW Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team detonates an artillery shell left over from the Vietnam War, using a barren, sandy field for the explosion. Project RENEW, a Vietnam affiliate of Norwegian People’s Aid, originally created by a partnership of the Quang Tri Province government and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which created and maintains the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Vietnam is one of the most heavily contaminated areas in the world; in addition to unexploded heavy bombs and artillery shells, Handicap International estimates that during the war of 1965-1975, over 296,000 cluster munitions, containing nearly 97 million submunitions, were dropped. Between the end of the war in 1975 and 2014, over 105,000 casualties are attributed to landmines and ERWs, including more than 7,000 in Quang Tri Province alone.

A number of government agencies, private corporations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) work around the world to find and clear land mines and explosive remnants of war (ERWs) – bombs, artillery shells, grenades, cluster munitions - left over from armed conflicts.

Norwegian People’s Aid does that and more. An NGO working on mines and ERWs in some 25 countries, NPA trains local staff to high technical standards; provides local staff with living wages, medical benefits and educational opportunities; creates partnerships with affected governments; promotes local staff into leadership positions; and actively recruits women and national minorities to participate equally in the projects. As a result, the demining efforts are largely run by highly trained local administrators and technical staff.

Over the last three years, I’ve shadowed NPA teams in four countries to see how effectively NPA repairs the physical land and how it helps rebuild civil society through those efforts.

Ted Lieverman is a free-lance documentary photographer and writer, working on issues of social justice and post-conflict communities. He has photographed in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Serbia, Bosnia, Lithuania, El Salvador, Cuba, Israel and Palestine, as well as in the U.S. His photos and stories have appeared in Global Post, Consortium News, Vietnam Magazine, The Progressive, Huffington Post, thINKing DANCE, and several law-related publications and NGO websites. Lieverman is a photographer for Northstar Productions and associate producer for two of its documentary films, including Guazapa: Yesterday’s Enemies about post-war El Salvador. He is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and the Philadelphia Pen and Pencil Club. His website is at www.tmlphotojournal.com .

For many years, Lieverman served as a labor union and class action lawyer. In 2011, he received a Fulbright Specialist grant to lecture on election reform in Serbia. He served as an international observer for the parliamentary elections in Cambodia in 1998 and 2003.

Lieverman lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He is available for assignment.

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) is one of the principal nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the world working to clear unexploded ordnance and landmines from former battlefields. Founded by Norway’s labor unions in 1939, NPA “embraces the values of solidarity, unity, equality and democracy as its guiding principles.” It works in 30 countries to provide aid and technical assistance, but also to “improve people’s living conditions and to create a more just society, undertaking political advocacy and practical supportive work.” In addition to Norwegian labor unions, NPA received grants and donations from international agencies and various governments (including the United States). www.npaid.org

Ted Lieverman

P.O. Box 39837

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

267-250-7059

tlieverman@TMLphotojournal.com

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