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Update: Stock Destruction 01-April-2004

Stockpile Destruction

The crew spent Monday morning (29 March) filming landmines in the process of being destroyed at a Kabul factory. We had arrived thinking we had missed this filming opportunity, but they found some more stockpiled mines to destroy. The process involved melting a thousand metallic casings of the Soviet-made POMZ antipersonnel mine (the stake or “pineapple” mine) in an ancient-looking furnace. The factory workers, none of who wore any significant protective gear, poured the molten iron into molds for manhole covers. They then covered the molds with sand to cool down overnight and placed a kettle on one to boil some tea. The process was fascinating and beautiful. With sparks flying everywhere, we were glad the camera, zeppelin, and crew made it out safely!

ICRC Rehabilitation Clinic

We then visited the Kabul rehabilitation clinic run by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to interview an engaging Italian, Dr. Alberto Cairo, who has directed the clinic for the past 15 years. Almost all of the clinic’s workers are former patients now employed to make artificial limbs and braces for mine victims and others. We were very lucky to get to Cairo before he left for a month of travel. He introduced the crew to a woman patient wearing a burka who agreed to an emotional interview about the mine incident that took her leg.

Bicycle Race

Finally, in the afternoon we filmed a bicycle race by disabled Afghan men and boys (including mine victims) organized to coincide with the campaign meeting. Girls and women did not compete, but the organizers hope it will soon be possible to include bicycling in their skills training program, which has a 4-year waitlist. Competition was fierce for the main prizes of new bicycles and hot water thermoses. We filmed a series of races by competitors entered in various groups such as below-knee (BK) amputee, above-knee (AK) amputee, wheelchair, and youth. The event took place in the national stadium, scene of public executions and other atrocities during the Taliban period.

Rebuilding Afghanistan

On Wednesday morning I left Kabul and the crew (Brian, Luc, and Rob) to travel home to New Zealand for two weeks vacation turned into work. They have a packed schedule to complete by 13 April. I’m quite sad to be missing the experience. Afghanistan is slowly coming back to life. Despite the poverty and daunting challenges, Afghans are keen to reconstruct the country and rebuild their lives. Landmines account for just part of their many problems, but the way in which they have tackled this issue over the past decade is remarkable and rather awe- inspiring. I hope do it justice in the film.

Some resources…

Stockpile destruction article

ICRC clinic article

Afghan Amputee Bicyclists for Rehabilitation and Recreation