I just happened upon some haunting photographs about the aftermath of war. The pictures are the work of Fiona Willoughby and they document the important work of HALO Trust, a NGO that dedicates itself to getting rid of landmines around the globe. Even though this exhibit is focused on landmines and those whose lives have been affected by them, it is both hopeful and inspirational. It shows not only the heroic work of those who risk their own safety to get rid of landmines, but also those who have been injured by landmines, or forced from their homes due to the risk of landmines and unexploded ordances.
The new exhibition Getting Landmines Out of the Ground, For Good is being hosted by the World Affairs Council of Northern California. You can stop by their office at 312 Sutter Street in San Francisco to see the exhibit for free any time during their office hours. I just walked in off the street this morning.
If you want to hear the photographer and her husband, Guy Willoughby (founder of HALO Trust) speak, you can attend the reception from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, tomorrow night (April 3) Tickets are $15 for the general public and $5 for students. You can get tickets online at www.worldaffairs.org
In case, like me, you have never heard of the HALO Trust, here are some pretty impressive stats about the work they have done in the 25 years since their founding:
- Over 1.4 million landmines destroyed
- Over 11 million items of larger calibre ordnance destroyed
- Over 208,000 cluster munitions destroyed
- Over 53 million bullets destroyed
- Over 3,400 heavy weapon systems immobilized
- Over 165,000 assault rifles destroyed
- Over 10,423 minefields cleared
- 33,460 hectares (82,682 acres) made safe from landmines
- 144,616 hectares (357,353 acres) made safe from unexploded and abandoned ordnance
- 14,491 kilometres (9,004 miles) of roads cleared
Finding out about this organization makes me reaffirm my belief that even in the worst of situations there is always hope. As I looked at the very moving photographs I was reminded of two quotes from Anne Frank's diary:
“It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” (This brought tears to my eyes the very first time I read it, back in 6th grade, and it has every time I have thought about it since then. To have such faith in the goodness of humanity in her circumstances is so incredible to me.)
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” (These words have often reminded me that we can always try to make things better, whether in big ways or small, it is never the wrong time to help make the world a better place.)
I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon this exhibition and to be reminded that there are many people who dedicate their lives to healing both the people and the land in countries devastated by war.