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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Like swords into plowshares

In Cambodia, Lutherans help replace land mines with vegetables, fruits

Morm Saveurn, 46, his wife, Mou Ly Viseth, and their six children live in Kam Prong, a remote village in northwest Cambodia’s Battambang Province. Saveurn and Viseth (both former soldiers) left the capital, Phnom Penh, and returned home a little more than 10 years ago. Saveurn still works part time as a soldier (10 days a month) but also depends on farming for the family’s income.

Thanks to Lutheran support for clearing
Thanks to Lutheran support for clearing land mines in Thmey, Kampong Speu Province, Cambodia, Khan Trang (right) and her husband, Yoy Yon (left), safely grow vegetables to sell at market and feed their five children.
Home is the site of a former battlefield, where Khmer Rouge troops fought those of the Vietnamese and Cambodian governments. Battambang is the most heavily mined province in Cambodia. From January 2004 to August 2005 alone, Battambang recorded 458 casualties from undetected land mines. Current estimates place 4 million to 6 million land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) scattered across Cambodia—threats to lives, limbs and economic recovery. Since hostilities ceased in 1997, some 40,000 people have lost limbs to mines in Cambodia.
A Lutheran World Federation partner, the U.K.-based Mines Advisory Group, is one of the country’s mainde-mining operators. The group has spent the last five years clearing nearly 4 million square yards of land in Battambang. In the first half of 2007, the Cambodia Mine/UXO Victim Information System reported 232 victims—a 28 percent decrease from the same period in 2006.

Since 1979 the LWF Department for World Service has worked in Cambodia, taking an approach to sustainable development that empowers vulnerable groups such as poor farmers, female-headed households, landless families, returnees, internally displaced people, rural youth and people affected by HIV/AIDS in remote and isolated areas.


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