Tomorrow the day finally arrives when I will get on the plane towards Vietnam, where I am going to spend my summer working as an AP Peace Fellow with Survivor Corps Vietnam (formerly the Landmine Survivors Network) in Dong Hoi, Quang Binh province. This region close to the former demilitarized zone, which separated North and South Vietnam, is still heavily affected by unexploded ordnances (UXO) like cluster munitions as well as landmines.
During the past weeks I have been very busy finishing my studies in Paris, spending a couple of days with my family in Switzerland and preparing my departure to Vietnam. Right now, I am already in Bangkok for the weekend to visit some friends who I met two years ago during my internship at the Swiss Embassy. I was very happy to leave again for South-East Asia. I have never been to Vietnam before, however, so in this sense I am entering complete unknown territory.
I am very much looking forward to having the opportunity to work with Survivor Corps over the next few months. Even though I don’t know yet what exactly my tasks are going to be and how I will fit into the NGO’s daily work, I have already had first email exchanges with Survivor Corps staff over the tentative work plan, which looks highly promising and interesting – and also very challenging. As an AP Fellow, one of my main tasks will be profiling the NGO’s beneficiaries, i.e. victims of landmines and cluster munitions explosions, which then can be used for their fundraising and outreach strategy. Also, Survivor Corps is currently preparing various advocacy activities to urge the Vietnamese government to ratify the international Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which will celebrate its entry into force on 1st of August. This includes the production of a documentary film on cluster munitions issues in Vietnam, and I am impatient to contribute to this project. In addition to advocacy linked to the CMM, I will be asked to help supporting the promotion of two other priority campaigns, the implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty and of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In any event, it is going to be a very rich and lasting experience for me, and I hope that I will be able to contribute to Survivor Corps efforts in the most positive way during this summer. I like the feeling of anticipation, which one has just before a departure to the unknown. There are many challenges and adventures waiting for me in Dong Hoi. I’ll arrive there Tuesday morning. Can’t wait any longer.
Posted By Simon Kläntschi
Posted Jun 13th, 2010