Weary of war, our Roots of Peace delegation found the strength to visit the families who suffered from the perils of war in Vinh Linh, a rural district of Quang Tri Province located in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam.

Far from the comfort of our homes in California, our group is dedicated towards healing the wounds of war by restoring the agricultural roots of prosperity in the region.  However, we must first deal with the legacy of war caused by landmines, UXO and cluster munitions.

Millions of Americans recently watched the extraordinary documentary PBS series produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick entitled THE VIETNAM WAR.  Yet, is now time to act upon the scenes of war depicted in the film, and realize that more bombs were dropped in Vietnam than World War I and World War II combined.  These explosive remnants of war do not just go away, as they lurk in the soil causing generations of Vietnamese families to suffer.

The Le Family in Quang Tri, knows this tragedy firsthand.  In 2015, Mr. Le Hun Ha, the father of three children, ventured into his orchard to remove his rubber trees and plant orange trees as a means of growing higher value crops for his growing family.  As his shovel dug deeper into the soil, he hit a metal object.  A blast was heard from miles away by his wife, Le Thu Kiem, who instinctively ran to the site where he was working.  She collapsed when she arrived at their orchard, as all that remained were chunks of human flesh.

Our hearts were torn, as we wept with tears as the gentle voice of Kiem told us of this tragic moment.  Her face was full of grief, as she told us of a bomb which was planted in the ground long before her beloved husband, Ha, was even born.  Her teenage children live in a neighborhood where warning signs of landmines line the streets.

It takes only eight pounds to detonate a landmine–the average weight of a newborn child.  Thousands of explosive remnants of war remain buried in the ground, waiting to maim or kill the innocent footstep of a child or a farmer.  Since the end of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975, explosive remnants of war have killed over 60,000 Vietnamese and over 40,000 innocent people have been maimed or injured since the guns have silenced.

As an American mother, I cannot change the history of the past.  But, as CEO of Roots of Peace, I may train thousands of proud Vietnamese farmers to cultivate their fertile soil without the fear of landmines beneath their plow.  In Vietnamese, the name ‘Kieu’ means ‘sword.’  As I looked into the hallowed eyes of the widow and mother, I realize that we must now turn ‘swords into plowshares’ by converting ‘mines to vines’ in Vietnam.  As we departed from Kieu’s home, Dr. Binh (whose name means ‘peace’) committed towards helping the Le Family become a proud Roots of Peace farmer to grow fresh black pepper on former battlefields, with the dignity and income it takes as a single parent.

As we heal the soil, we heal the soul…

Together, may we plant the Roots of Peace in Vietnam.

This is my humble prayer.