Last month, Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty agent Karen Plastiras, along with a delegation from the Marin PeaceBuilder Chapter, accompanied Cheryl Jennings of ABC News and Heidi Kuhn to Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. The province is one of the most famous Vietnamese Demilitarized Zones (DMZ) despite previously being a battlefield, one of the most intensively bombed areas in military history.
Plastiras experienced firsthand the collaboration between Roots of Peace, Mines Advisory Group (MAG)) and Mercer University. Their goal: removing mines, replanting vines, and rebuilding communities. Cluster bombs and remnants of the Vietnam War are still found in Quang Tri Province. Even today, children mistake bombs for rocks. Plastiras and team witnessed Roots of Peace’s many efforts from actively educating children on the dangers of touching and playing with UXOs to converting deserted mine fields back to workable pepper vines to training of local farmers. For Plastiras, the culminating moment of the trip was a tearful meeting with a man sporting his new artificial leg after 35 years of wearing a piece of wood and a horse hoof for a foot. With his new leg and productive pepper vines, his entire life was changed because of Roots of Peace.
Despite the war having ended 40+ years ago, people are injured or killed every day in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia by landmines. “We were all impressed by the inroads Heidi Kuhn and her family have made in this war-torn province and other parts of the world. Tucker Kuhn spent three years in this community setting the groundwork for the farmers. Heidi’s singular focus on improving the lives of these pepper growers was amazing. Her conversations with our communist minders, her relationship with MAG and Mercer University, her discussions with Vietnamese businessmen as possible new donors, and her caring for each individual life was truly awe inspiring,” says Plastiras.
To learn more about Roots of Peace and its dedication to replacing Mines with Vines, click here.