PANO – Two people, used to be soldiers fighting against each other in the Vietnam War, now become friends and work for the same organization, Golden West Humanitarian Foundation (GWHF), which is supporting its Vietnamese partner to remove the legacy of the war: unexploded ordnance.
Allan Vosburgh, Director of Plans and Operations of GWHF and former Vietnamese Colonel Nguyen Quang Bieu, GWHF’s country representative in Vietnam, were happy welcoming guests to the ceremony in Hanoi on May 8 th , 2012, to celebrate the establishment of their project office in Vietnam.
“We are here not for the sake of being something but for the sake of doing something for the benefits of Vietnamese people,” said Bieu, who retires after serving in the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence’s Department for Foreign Affairs.
According to Mr. Vosburgh, the objective of GWHF presence in Vietnam is for a long-term cooperation with its partner: Technology Centre for Bomb and Mine Disposal (BOMICEN), a center under the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence’s Engineering Command.
|Allan Vosburgh (R) and Nguyen Quang Bieu meet with BOMICEN leaders. |
“We are here to serve our partner’s demand,” said Vosburgh, whose wife is of Vietnamese origin and accompanying him to the ceremony.
GWHF began working in Quang Tri Province from April 2007 by providing technology support and training to a demining project and applying a new detection system called Modullar Detection Array (MDA) to make UXO clearance in Quang Tri faster, safer and more cost-effective. As a result, over 130 hectares in Trieu Thach and Vung Ha was free from UXO.
Two years later, in February 2009, GWHF signed an agreement with BOMICEN to provide consultancy, new technology and personnel training support for UXO clearance and disposal in Vietnam. Since then, GWHF has become an official partner to BOMICEN.
|Allan Vosburgh at the opening ceremony of GWHF's project office in Hanoi. |
The new detection system, MDA, was later requested by BOMICEN for provision through a joined project on development, production and testing of equipment used for detection and disposal of UXO in Vietnam which was approved by the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence in January 2011.
According to this project, GWHF delivered a Mobile Bomb Cutting System (MBCS) to BOMICEN in May 2011 and provided trainings on how to operate this system to BOMICEN technical personnel in September 2011.
This system was highly appreciated by BOMICEN for its mobility, cost effectiveness and suitability to Vietnamese conditions.
Moreover, from 2009 to 2011, GWHF had successfully conducted six field visits and training courses in Cambodia and Vietnam to upgrade the skills of UXO clearance and disposal operations on land and in the sea for 75 technical personnel of BOMICEN and of other Vietnamese engineering units.
“An outstanding example was the underwater detection training of Klein Sonar 3000 conducted by GWHF experts for 41 people in Nghi Son, Thanh Hoa Province in May 2011,” said Bieu.
After having got permission to operate in Quang Tri, Quang Binh and Ha Tinh provinces, with the approval of local authorities, GWHF donated 6,000 illustrated children’s books entitled “Vinh and Trinh’s Adventure”, developed by GWHF experts, to primary and secondary school children in these provinces to help them realize and stay away from the threat of UXO left after the war.
As a result, on January 11 th , 2012, GWHF got the permit from the Viet Nam Committee for Foreign NGO Affairs (COMINGO) to establish its project office in Hanoi.
“The establishment of GWHF project office in Hanoi marks a new important step of development and cooperation with our partners in Viet Nam and encourage us to do more for Vietnamese people” said Bieu.