Imagine you're a child of six or seven, happily skipping across a field , when you spot a small, round object partially buried in the ground. With a child's curiosity, you nudge it with your foot. BLAM! Unfortunately, it was a land mine.
Thousands of children, farmers, and others are maimed or killed each year by land mines left in place from yesterday's wars. Armies put these concealed weapons of horror in place to kill their enemies, but once the war is over, the armies have no map of where they placed the mines, nor do they return to disarm them. So the mines are found, one deadly discovery at a time, by innocents who literally stumble upon them.
There are about a million of these mines still in Bosnia, a million in Mozambique, some six million in Cambodia, and up to seven million in Afghanistan. U.S. weapons manufacturers are the world's leading marketers of landmines, which continue to be made, sold ... and planted.
But there's good news. A coalition of human rights, veterans, peace, and other advocacy groups, working with the mine-clearing experts of the United Nations, have launched a remarkable, grassroots program called adopt-a-minefield. Yes, it's modeled on our country's adopt-a-highway litter clean-up program, only instead of groups picking up trash along a stretch of highway, the adopt-a-minefield program collects money from groups and individuals to pay for experts to do the painstaking work of inching across the world's killing fields to de-mine them.
It costs about $300 to clear 100 square yards. From wealthy donors to schoolchildren, more than $2.5 million has already been raised to "adopt" 60 minefields, 20 of which have been cleared. As one of the organizers told the New York Times, "It's something you can pay for that gets done and helps save lives -- direct."
This is Jim Hightower saying ... To adopt a minefield, go to the Web site: www.landmines.org.