All the signs say Go !

Eindhoven Travel Blog

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War junk cleared by MAG in Laos.
Do you believe in coincidence? I don't. Over the last few years I have come to believe that things happen for a reason. That reason might not be completely clear at the time something happens, and it may never be clear at all. It may well be that things that happen to you have nothing much to do with you yourself. Maybe they're meant for somebody else and you're just a cog in the deus ex machina, or just a pawn in the greater scheme of things. Part of the universal cunning plan. As such I have stopped thinking to much about things that instantly feel like the right thing to do. I have become much more impulsive over the years, in a positive way.  I don't believe in coincidence anymore. Instead I'm considering them signs. And signs are there to follow. The seventh of May 2010 had such a sign.
MAG sign at the Plain of Jars in Laos.

As on many Fridays, to close a working week I headed down to the company bar with my drinking buddy Ingmar. We were discussing how we were and were not enjoying certain aspects of our jobs over a cold beer or two. When asked if I still enjoyed mine I told him that I do indeed like my specialism and projects but that I lately have come to feel that it doesn't add much to a 'greater good' in the world. That I should maybe use my energy and skills in a different way. I'd been toying with the idea of going abroad to work for a charity, but it's not something I'd be able to do right now, with my kids being teenagers. When he asked me what type of work I would be doing I told him about MAG. MAG (Mines Advisory Group) is 'a neutral and impartial humanitarian organisation that clears the remnants of conflicts for the benefits of communities worldwide'.
MAG marker of a safe footpath at the Plain of Jars.
Now, this might have you thinking that it's a company cleaning up the mess after a football match, but their work is far more serious than that. MAG tracks and dismantles landmines, unexploded bombs and such throughout the world. Not only does this keep innocent locals from being killed or mutilated, it also helps them to pick up their normal lives again (e.g. agriculture on fields where they did not dare to plough before).

I had first learned about MAG when watching the documentary Bomb Harvest as a preperation for my trip to Laos. I was shocked by the fact that Laos is the most bombed country in history and fascinated by the work of MAG. So, when we visited Phonsavon I took our little group to MAG's local office.
War junk cleared by MAG in Laos.
We watched a DVD checked out the exhibition and ended up making a few donations. The importance of MAG's work in Laos could be easily understood seeing all of the war junk in the area, some of which is used by locals to build homes! MAG remained in the back of my mind and I now and then found myself thinking how my marketing skills could get many more tourists into their Phonsavon office, especially since there's little else to do in town (people mainly come to see the Plain of Jars). I explained Ingmar that this would be something I would be interested in doing. Combining my knowledge with a more useful goal in life, working in a part of the world that was less preoccupied with materialsm.

I had left my e-mail address with MAG at their Phonsavon office and would occasionally receive their newsletters. Imagine my surprise when an e-mail arrives on my PDA only minutes after having told Ingmar about MAG. What's more, this was no ordinary newsletter. It was an e-mail from MAG's Event Manager, Lesley Achim. She was recruiting volunteers to raise money for MAG and participate in the Community Challenge Cambodia 2010. Volunteering for MAG? Cambodia in my cherised travel destination of South-East Asia? Raising money for a greater good? What does it all mean? I showed Ingmar the e-mail and he was as surprised as I was. And if I remember his words correctly I think he said 'I think this means that you must go' ....

To be continued.

Aurora78 says:
You just got yourself another follower. :) Great job at writing these! Cheers!
Posted on: Dec 03, 2010
monky says:
Very interesting blog thanks for sharing a little piece of what you think in this site well done!
Posted on: Dec 03, 2010
debsadams1979 says:
I think Ingmar could well be right! It's a great blog and surely will prove to inspiration to many fellow Travel Buddies who would like to get involved in charities or volunteer work abroad, I look forward to hearing more about it.
Posted on: Dec 03, 2010
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War junk cleared by MAG in Laos.
War junk cleared by MAG in Laos.
MAG sign at the Plain of Jars in L…
MAG sign at the Plain of Jars in …
MAG marker of a safe footpath at t…
MAG marker of a safe footpath at …
War junk cleared by MAG in Laos.
War junk cleared by MAG in Laos.
photo by: liekevo