Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Unexploded bombs cost lives but provide a living
Clearing mines from Vietnam could take 300 yearsA nun visiting Nguyen Vinh Thoai
- ucanews.com reporter, Hue
- April 17, 2012
Unexploded ordnance left over from wars in Vietnam's Thua Thien-Hue province are still claiming lives and causing injuries. Yet some local people risk life and limb in order to scrape a livelihood from it.
"I used to collect 30 kg of military supplies and materials from the hills every day," says 32-year-old Nguyen Vinh Thoai. "By selling it as scrap metal, I was making 200,000 dong (US$10) to support my family. I was hoping to save enough money to build a house in the future."
Then last June, almost inevitably, Thoai lost his left foot while trying to defuse a Â bomb.
âI was given medical treatment at a local hospital for six months and now I can't do anything because the wound still hurts,â he says.
Now his wife has become the family breadwinner, working on a farm. Their family and 12 other relatives all live in his parentsâ house, which measures 48 sq.m.
"I used to collect unexploded ordnance to sell, so I could support my aged parents," says another victim, Ngo Thi Boi. "But I lost one eye and my left arm while I was removing the rust and mud from a mine I'd pulled out ofÂ a river. I didn't realize it was a mine until it exploded.â
A recurring series of wars and military engagements ravaged this province for decades. Even though hostilities abated in the 1970s, the local authorities estimate that 500,000 hectares of land in the region are still covered by unexploded ordnance.
Nationally, it is thought that the deadly detritus can be found over as much as 6.6 million hectares. And although rates have tapered off slightly in recent times, there are still around 1,370 related accidents per year, killing or injuring more than 3,800 people.
With the help of numerous NGOs and charities, the effort to safely remove the ordnance is ongoing, but it is a mammoth task.Â So far, only 300,000 Â hectares of contaminated land have been cleared.
With an annual de-mining rate of around 20,000 hectares, it will take another 300 years to complete the clearance across the whole country, at an estimated cost of more than $10 billion.