Every 5 days someone has a limb destroyed by a land mine. On Saturday 11th June 2016, Rotaract Gladstone funded and constructed 3 prosthetic hands to be sent to Cambodia to help those that have lost their hand from a land mine of some sort. Collectively with Interact, Rotaract and Rotary from the Gladstone region, 21 hands were funded, constructed and sent overseas.
On the day we had guest speakers in to teach about the Helping Hands Project, but also to educate us on the world-wide problems that are still very real due to land mines from past wars. Land mines are still a massive issue in places such as Cambodia, where there is currently around 4 to 6 million unexploded mines and other ordnance! While much is being done to fix this problem, unfortunately they are only getting cleared at around 100,000 mines per year, meaning Cambodia won’t be mine-free for at least 50 years! Whilst it was both educational and upsetting to hear about this, we also got to hear about a very inspirational man volunteering over in Cambodia, Akira.
Akira is an ex-soldier that spends his days clearing land mines from around Siem Reap, Cambodia – to date he has cleared over 50,000 land mines by himself, using only his bare hands. You can see a little of his work here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySaOYiihFz0.
The Saturday was a great day, we had many clubs from across our region coming together to learn about the Helping Hands Project and construct the prosthetic hands. The hands cost approximately $500 each and took us 2 hours or so to assemble – we did this in teams of two using only our non-dominant hand each so to experience, even on a very small scale, the difficulties these people go through on a day-to-day basis. Once the hands were completed, we added a photo of ourselves, a short message for the recipient and packed it all into a decorated case. These hands will now be taken over to Cambodia (and other developing countries), where they will be fitted to amputee land mine victims in hopes it will make their life just a little bit easier.
The Helping Hands Program made the pledge to fund, construct and fit 10,000 hands by December 2017, at time of writing this number is already at a staggering 7,659 hands! The Helping Hands Program is a great initiative for a great cause and I really want to encourage people get behind it, to find out more information please visit: http://helpinghandsprogram.com.au/
-Zak Avery, Rotaract Club of Gladstone
Editor’s Note: More photos and information about the Rotaract Club of Gladstone can be found on their Facebook Page