Birmingham Friends Meeting: Saving Lives via Land Mine Detectors

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A demonstration of a landmine detector during a Peace Fair held at Birmingham Friends Meeting.

A demonstration of a landmine detector during a Peace Fair held at Birmingham Friends Meeting.

Over the past seven years the Peace Center of Birmingham and subsequently the Peace and Social Concerns Committee at Birmingham Friends Meeting have raised over $12,400 to purchase 12 land mine detectors. They were bought through the manufacturer, the Schonstedt Instrument Company, which generously matches one for one every landmine detector purchased, doubling the number of detectors that we can count as our contribution to reducing this form of violence and suffering. Where are they sent? The mine detectors are sent to the United Nations Mine Action Service, which is the operational arm of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and the U.S. Department of State, which determines areas of past conflict most in need of clearing unexploded ordinance. For example, some of our landmine detectors have gone to Nepal, Gaza, and Libya.

These landmine detectors are a type of metal detector used by surveyors searching for metal pins placed in the ground to mark property boundaries. Some time ago Frank Lanik, a member of Woodstown Friends Meeting and a surveyor by profession, recognized that the Schonstedt surveyors’ tool was light in weight, easy to use, and ideal for detecting land mines. Frank Lanik came to one of our peace fairs and demonstrated the detector. Our interest to make a difference was immediately stimulated.

How have we raised this money? We have undertaken numerous efforts. We’ve held two Peace Fairs, engaged our young Friends to create crafts that were sold, created peace t-shirts with an artist’s logo creation, and sold many, many quilts and quilted bags made by our very generous member, Ruth Young.

We plan to continue to raise money to support the procurement and shipment of land mine detectors; we hope that other Quaker Meetings and other groups and individuals will join this endeavor. Information on contacts to obtain the mine detectors can be obtained from Birmingham Friends Meeting Peace & Social Concerns Committee member Ted Brinton: 610-388-6006