WYOMING RESIDENTS HELP TO CLEAR A PATH FOR
A LANDMINE-FREE SRI LANKA
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
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
19 September 2003