Thursday, May 28, 2015
It wrecks havoc. No matter the side, war creates tragedy, and people learn to persevere.
Perseverance, and the desire to live, is ever so evident in the province that lined the DMZ line during the Vietnam war, Quang Tri Province.
Our first stop for the day was the Vinh Moc Tunnels. Per usual, Johnny took us down memory lane and described the history of the tunnels. The tunnels are in Quang Tri Province, which as I mentioned was close to the DMZ line between North and South Vietnam. In order to prevent the flow of supplies to the North and specifically to Con Co Island, the United States heavily bombed Quang Tri Province with over 9,000 tons of bombs. That is 7 tons of bomb per individual living in the area.
During the Vietnam War, the United States dropped more than twice the amount of bombs used during WWII on Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
Not wanting to leave their land, and wanting to help the soldiers in the area, the people started to dig a tunnel system, inspired by the Cu Chi tunnels. By the time there were done, the tunnel system was over 2 km long and included sleeping areas, cooking areas, meeting areas, maternity rooms (17 children were born in the tunnels), hospital areas, etc. It was an underground city. When the bombing became constant, over 300 people lived in the tunnel system full-time for almost 6 years, only leaving the tunnels to farm and collect food. Besides the people living full-time in the tunnels, upwards of 600 people at time, both civilians and soldiers, would seek safety within the city of clay walls during bomb raids.
We shouldn’t think about the sides. We should remember the people, the people who did everything in their power to live and survive.
Leaving the tunnels, we headed to Project Renew’s Museum.
Remember the total amount of bombs dropped?
Of the total bombs dropped, it is estimated that 10% did not detonate. That means that after the war ended, there was potentially 900 tons of unexploded ordinances left throughout the Quang Tri Province.
Remember the UXO Project in Laos? Well, Project Renew has the same mission, to help clear the land of unexploded ordinances. The cool/different thing about Project Renew is their project called Mushroom with a Mission.
In partnership with the American non-profit organization Humpty Dumpty Insitute (HDI), Project Renew has created a livelihood assistance program for those injured or disabled by landmine explosion or accidents. I found an article from 2012 that stated that over 150 families were involved, and when at full capacity they hope to eventually aid over 1,000 families.
- Mushrooms are not difficult to grow.
- Mushrooms do not require a lot of land.
- There is a market for mushrooms.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Interested in the cause? Check out Project Renew’s website, www.landmines.org.vn , and see you can do!
Leaving the museum, we had a few hours to reflect as we drove to Hue. In Hue, we checked in and then went to catch a sunset.
Mentally, and physically exhausted, I downed a mango smoothie and went to bed early.
Everyday you learn something new, is a good day. The question is, what will you do with what you learn….
Love always, Arianna the Wandering Pipette