Brigadier Rohan Jayasinghe, Defense Attaché to the Embassy of Sri Lanka, along with Anthony Lake, Chairman of the Board of the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI), and Perry Baltimore, President of the Marshall Legacy Institute, were honored at a dinner hosted by Sophie and Derek Craighead of Jackson Hole, WY, on Thursday, September, 25th. The dinner completed a series of kick-off events of MLI's new national initiative, CHAMPS, to raise funds to train and deploy a mine detection dog to Sri Lanka.

CHAMPS, CHildren Against landMines Program, is a two week educational and fundraising program designed to engage schoolchildren in the global effort to rid the world of the threat of landmines. The children of Wyoming are the first in the nation to participate in the CHAMPS campaign. They are learning about the effects of landmines on children in severely affected countries. Wyoming schoolchildren, in turn, are encouraged to take action to ease the scourge of landmines by contributing a quarter to sponsor their very own mine detection dog. Their dog, to be named Wyoming, will sniff-out landmines and save lives in Sri Lanka.

Guests at the Craighead dinner, along with students in selected schools throughout Wyoming, have been treated with a demonstration by dog trainer, Chris Timmer, and his lifesaving dog Rosa, who has worked in Bosnia, Croatia and Namibia. According to Sophie Craighead, a Jackson Hole philanthropist, "if the schoolchildren can raise $20,000 to sponsor a mine detection dog, we will work to do the same with private donors." Dinner guests pledged contributions to sponsor a dog named "Jackson."

MLI is a Virginia-based, non-profit organization dedicated to donating trained mine detection dogs to severely contaminated countries. MLI raises tax-deductible private contributions to purchase the dogs, and uses matching government funds to train local handlers to employ the dogs effectively in national mine clearance campaigns.

The Sri Lankan Government has requested MLI's assistance in establishing an indigenous mine detection dog program in Sri Lanka. According to Brigadier Jayasinghe, despite the ceasefire after 18 years of fighting between government and rebel forces, "an estimated 700,000 landmines continue to cripple and kill innocent people, instill fear, discourage development and deny use of land in the northern and eastern portions of Sri Lanka."

Mrs. Diana Enzi, spouse of Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and CHAMPS chairman, has spearheaded the efforts to launch the school-based program in Wyoming. Anthony Lake, National Security Advisor to former President Bill Clinton, noted that without additional funding and the CHAMPS program, it may take as long as 30 years to free Sri Lanka of mines. "This is unacceptable and unnecessary," said Mr. Lake. By participating in this fund-raising effort, private donors can help reduce the timeline dramatically.

Dinner guests also included Tina Close, Bettine Close, Shirley Craighead, Carolyn Dejanikus, Stephen Dynia, Astrid Flood, Ann Frame, Carol and. John Gonella, Renny Jackson, Lucinda and Ed Krajsky, Jackie and Michael Lessac, Tatiana and Paul Maxwell, Bob McGregor, Trish Pillsbury, Benji Podmaniczky, Cathy Poindexter, Susie Rauch, Ed Smail, Ann and Patrick Smith, Liz and Dave Speaks, Bobbi and Ken Thomasma, Melissa Thomasma and Clark Wooley.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

19 September 2003



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