On Sunday, July 11, 2010, Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) and the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI) coordinated a Landmine Education Presentation in Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, CA. The presentation focused on the work being done in regards to landmine and unexploded ordinances (UXO) in Vietnam. Sunday’s program held particular significance as it marked the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. The panel of speakers included Ambassador Bui the Giang, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Vietnam Mission to the United Nations, Ms. Jerilyn Brusseau, Co-founder of PeaceTrees Vietnam, and Mr. Ralph Cwerman, President of HDI. Devotees of the temple and other community members attended to make up an audience of over 150 people. Special guests included Vietnam War veterans and University of Southern California (USC) students working on school projects.
Mr. Cwerman began the program with an overview of HDI’s past and present landmine programs in Southeast Asia and Africa, with an emphasis on HDI’s holistic approach to landmine clearance. Ms. Brusseau followed with a presentation on the history and work of PeaceTrees Vietnam with a personal touch as the organization was founded shortly after the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam – a goal that was always in the back of Ms. Brusseau’s mind after her brother perished in the Vietnam War in 1969.
Ambassador Giang concluded the program and reminded the audience that this year marks both the 15th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations and the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. The Ambassador described the course his country has taken since the end of the war, painting a picture of development, challenges and determination. Ambassador Giang also touched upon HDI’s “Mushrooms with a Mission” project and hailed the program as “the right project at the right time.”
The audience was engaged during the two and half hours presentation and raised a number of questions for each speaker. Ven. Hui Chi, Ven. Yi Kung and trustees from the University of the West also participated in this lecture and raised great interest in hosting this event in the campus in the near future.