I’m sure if each of us were to look back at some of the goals we’ve achieved throughout our lives there would be some surprises. Things that perhaps now seem insignificant, things that we may have forgotten about and things that we still smile about because of what it meant to us when we achieved them. Equally, looking forward it is easy to imagine that each of us has at least one big goal that seems so far away and almost daunting to think about. The kind of goal that in many ways we might wish one day will define us. The kind of goal we want to achieve more than any other. The kind of goal that is epic, all encompassing, invigorating and above all – worthy.
Today, I want to share with you a goal that is all of these things and more. It is not just a goal like yours or mine, but one that resonates around the world and touches millions of lives. It is a goal encapsulated by a single organisation’s mission and that is:
“Getting mines out of the ground, now.”
In 2006 I travelled to Cambodia as a tourist. There were many things that struck me about this country. First and foremost the people were genuinely happy and very friendly. Furthermore, they were incredibly hospitable. This of course, I have not found to be uncommon in my travels. However, there is a striking difference about Cambodia that is hard to ignore. Little more than a generation ago it experienced auto-genocide on a scale that is virtually unrivaled in the history of human conflict. The devastation was and is horrible. There are many reminders to this very day of what happened during that period including the museum that is Tuol Sleng (the school that became a prison of torture) and of course the Killing Fields where the graves of the victims are so shallow, the clothes they were buried in extrude from the ground. But of course, the greatest reminder is the people themselves because despite the warmth of their smiles, they continue to suffer the physical and emotional burden of landmines and other unexploded ordinances. And this suffering is impossible to ignore because many men, women and children whom I passed in the street visibly bore the suffering in their very bodies due to the fact they were without a leg or an arm and in one rare case without legs or arms as a result of stepping on a landmine often very near to their homes. This of course does not speak of the dead. During the conflict in Cambodia in the 1970s and beyond landmines were used to great effect by both sides of the conflict and as most of us know with landmines, the effect lasts long after the war is over.
During my time there I travelled to several remote places. On the way to one such place I met a young Cambodian man whose job it was to clear landmines and he worked for an organisation that I have since come to know is very widespread – The Halo Trust. Some of you may be familiar with the work of The Halo Trust, but for those of you who aren’t, The Halo Trust is an NGO (UK)/Not-for-Profit organisation (US) that “specialises in the removal of the hazardous debris of war”. In the 22 years since it commenced operations it has achieved the following milestones:
- over 1.3 million landmines destroyed
- over twelve million items of larger calibre ordnance destroyed
- over fifty million bullets destroyed
- over 2,800 heavy weapon systems immobilized
- over 129,000 assault rifles destroyed
- over 7,400 minefields cleared
- 27,367 hectares (67,625 acres) made safe from landmines
- 128,785 hectares (318,235 acres) made safe from unexploded and abandoned ordnance
- 12,409 kilometers (7,710 miles) of roads cleared
Despite these amazing statistics, there is yet much to do. Whilst progress has been phenomenal, many mines remain putting the lives of men, women and most often, children at risk. That is why we have decided to donate $1 from every sale (and subsequent payment) of Lifetick and Lifetick Coach to The Halo Trust to support them in the work they do in the many war torn places around the world such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Angola, Somaliland, Georgia, Nagorno Karabakh, Kosovo and Colombia. We encourage you to visit their website for more information about how they do what they do and if you are in a position to do so, then by all means contribute in any way you can or spread the word. It is very easy to get caught up in our own goals in life, but it is also not out of reach to become a part of the worthiest of goals, even if it is in some small way.