The reason I’ve been quiet over the last couple of days is because I’ve been performing in a short play called Inch by Inch, written and produced by Susan Timmins with Freya Inkster, designed to raise money for the charity Mines Advisory Group (MAG). It was a fascinating production; I played a trader called Steve who attends an arms convention but enters this limbo world where two Laotian mine-clearers rail against his selfish ignorance. Steve is unaware of their presence but by the end some of the message gets through. The outdoor stage was covered in bundles of clothes, each representing a victim from a country with existing mines or other unexploded ordinances, which the characters interacted with throughout the play. It was a great experience which I highly enjoyed and learned from – even despite the vicious showers we had to perform in! A local news website wrote about it here.
If you’re unaware of their work as I was before joining the production, MAG works towards clearing areas of mines and bombs (particularly cluster bombs) left over from conflicts. There’s generally an assumption that the humanitarian disaster ends with the war, but often it continues long afterwards. All over the world, from Egypt to Angola to Somalia to Iraq, and particularly in Laos and Vietnam, the problem still persists. I read a horrifying figure yesterday which stated 1 in 300 people in Angola are missing a limb due to either the civil war or from the aftermath. Children are especially at risk because it is difficult to teach them about the dangers and they often run through areas to play, unaware of what could happen. It’s horrific. They operate by a humanitarian criteria, conducting missions which will have the greatest benefit for a community rather than concentrating first on the area covered. They also train and provide employment for locals to make a difference in their own communities.
It’s a wonderful charity – I’m humbled by their dedication and bravery, and by their constant struggle to create a better future. My contribution has only been very small but I hope it can go some way to helping with their valiant work.