Learning Beyond Textbooks: Vietnamese Children Receive UXO Awareness Backpacks

Posted on January 20, 2024 View all News

Mo Duc, Quang Ngai (18 – 19 Jan 2023) —  Representatives from Project RENEW and Quang Ngai Red Cross this week delivered brand-new school bags that carry UXO safety messages to 800 schoolchildren in Quang Ngai Province, home of the My Lai massacre in 1968. 

450 girls and 350 boys in five communes of Mo Duc District, Quang Ngai received their gifts a few weeks before Tết, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, commences. These schoolchildren come from families affected by the war consequences and poverty and they had been recommended for benefiting this initiative by their teachers in charge. 

“Children are particularly at risk from UXO because they may be curious or unaware of the dangers,” said Nguyen Thanh Phu who is in charge of RENEW’s Risk Education Program. “Providing them with school bags that carry safety messages is a great way to reach them directly.”

A report by the Vietnam National Mine Action Center released in April 2018 listed Quang Ngai among the central provinces of Vietnam still plagued with bombs and mines. Since the end of the Vietnam War, UXO has killed 1,372 people and injured 1,560 in Quang Ngai Province. 

Together with the provincial Red Cross, RENEW team hoped that this initiative could promote community engagement. “Distributing the school bags could be a way to involve the community in UXO safety efforts,” said RENEW Coordination Manager Nguyen Hieu Trung. “This can help to build awareness and support for the cause.”

The initiative is part of a program funded by Friends of Project RENEW, a U.S.-based all-volunteer non-profit organization, to help advance RENEW’s risk education and victim assistance in Quang Ngai. The work in Mo Duc District follows the successful cooperation between RENEW and Quang Ngai Red Cross in two other districts, Ba To and Nghia Hanh, with funding provided by Irish Aid.