Martin, who has worked for charities in places including Bangladesh and West Africa, first heard about Handicap International's work with conflict-affected communities through his long association with the South Somerset Peace Group.
In the run up to the 2003 war in Iraq, Martin, along with other local campaigners in Ilminster and the surrounding area, established a local Stop the War group which evolved into the peace group. It was through a talk one evening that Martin found out more about our work supporting the victims of conflict in places like Afghanistan, Gaza and Iraq.
Inspired by Martin’s support, South Somerset Peace Group has raised funds for Handicap International for a number of years. In 2014 the group organised an evening of poetry and prose to raise funds. One member even asked that donations should be made to us instead of receiving presents on her birthday! The group also hosted a talk by our Mine Action expert, Fred Maio, and John from Handicap International UK.
Martin (left) with fellow campaigners handing in our Lives and Limbs petition at 10 Downing Street, March, 2015. © Handicap International
An effective way of combating landmines and cluster munitions
Martin explains why South Somerset Peace Group decided to support Handicap International's work:
“The group supports Handicap International as a practical and effective way of combating landmines and cluster munitions through their work clearing minefields, assisting victims, risk education and campaigning against these horrific weapons.”
In 2015 Martin joined other campaigners to hand-in a petition at 10 Downing Street. The petition, which Martin had collected hundreds of signatures for, called for UK Aid to provide more life-saving risk education to prevent accidents involving landmines and explosive remnants of war, and to urgently prioritise the clearance of contaminated areas.
Mozambique declared mine free
A long civil war had left Mozambique one of the most mined countries on the planet. Between 1998 and 2015, Handicap International deminers cleared 16 million square metres of land, and neutralised 6,000 landmines and 5,000 explosive remnants of war. Thanks to supporters like Martin, our local deminers were able to free their country from the scourge of landmines.
Raising funds and awareness at every opportunity
Away from the peace group, Martin has fundraised for our work in a number of ways. Every November he talks to local residents about out work at a coffee morning he organises at the village hall in Chaffcombe, Somerset.
Martin also encourages members of an Italian class, which he hosts, to make a contribution to our work. Martin explains:
“An Italian conversation group that meets at my home every Friday asks members to contribute 30p for tea and biscuits. I ask attendees to put whatever they like in a pickle jar with Handicap International labels on and a note from Beatrice at Handicap International UK. The contributions build up quite usefully, and each December some of the members put in a note rather than handing round Christmas cards.”
A big thank you from the Handicap International team, on behalf of our deminers and all the people we support!
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