ROOTS OF PEACE, A HUMANITARIAN NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, ANNOUNCES THE FIRST “MINES TO VINES” PROGRAM IN UKRAINE – A HISTORIC INITIATIVE TO ERADICATE LANDMINES/UXO AND RESTORE UKRAINIAN GRAPE GROWING REGION

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NAPA VALLEY, Calif., Dec. 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Napa Valley was the center of a historic launch of the first demining program that seeks to eradicate landmines and UXO in the Mykloaiv region of Ukraine, an area which is experiencing a significant increase in lethal landmines and explosives as a consequence of the Russian invasion.

Grgich Hills Estate President and Co-Proprietor Violet Grgrich, Daniel Yuval, Israeli landmine victim and Roots of Peace Founder and CEO, Heidi Kuhn

Napa Valley was the center of a historic launch of the first demining program to eradicate landmines in Ukraine

The announcement was made by Roots of Peace Founder and CEO, Heidi Kuhn, and Grgich Hills Estate President and Co-Proprietor Violet Grgrich during the first “Festival of Bells” at Grgich Hills Estate on December 2nd. The event celebrated the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Ottawa treaty on the prohibition of the use of landmines. Both Violet Grgich and Heidi Kuhn are mothers, and took the leap of this momentous partnership on behalf of children and farmers in Ukraine.

As Ukrainians and Rotarians, making Ukraine safe again and rebuilding destroyed and (military) polluted areas our main focuses now,” said Tatiana Godak, President, Rotary E-Club of Ukraine.  “The Roots of Peace Mines to Vines initiative will substantially contribute to both.”

Violet Grgich spoke after the announcement: “In May 2000, my father, Miljenko ‘Mike’ Grgich walked the minefields of his beloved homeland in Croatia with Heidi Kuhn and her daughter Kyleigh, age 13, to see the devastation of an estimated 1.2 million landmines. Together, they set out on a quest to transform minefields into bountiful vineyards. Today, Croatia is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, due in part to their Mines to Vines initiative. Today, we expand our vision for peace to the fields of Ukraine.”

Dmytro Kushnerek, the San Francisco Consul General of Ukraine, participated in the announcement and welcomed the initiative born in the heart of Napa and supported by the Rotary E-Club of Ukraine.

“This demining project is essential for Ukraine because landmines are one of the big problems we face in the middle of the war,” stated Dmytro Kushnerek. “These explosives are affecting our communities – especially children and civilians not involved in the fighting. Huge land parcels have seen substantial growth of explosive devices planted by Russian occupation in fields, villages, and towns,” he added.

As part of the treaty anniversary, the former United States Ambassador to Cambodia and The World Food Prize, President Emeritus Kenneth Quinn, led a series of panels with experts and diplomats about global challenges with landmines, the demining processes, and agricultural development opportunities in war-torn countries.

“In the past 25 years, the impact of Roots of Peace turning Mines to Vines has already been felt in Afghanistan, Vietnam, Croatia, the Holy Land, and now Ukraine. And I hope that during this season, whatever your religious background might be, people from around the world can join together in a cause that can unite us across significant differences, alleviating human suffering and preventing harm and death to innocent people, particularly children,” stated Ambassador Quinn.

Topics such as the perils of landmines were discussed by Azerbaijan Ambassador to the U.S. Khazar Ibrahim, the Consul General of Ukraine Dmytro Kushnerek, Ramil Azizov– ANAMA – National Demining Organization from Azerbaijan, and Chehab Elawar, Board Member, Rotary Peace Action Group and members of the San Francisco Consular Corps, including Japan, Israel, Hungary, Peru, Cypress, the Philippines, Ireland, and the EU Special Envoy for Digital in the U.S.

“I’ve walked the minefields of the world, including those of Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Now we are scaling up to the minefields of Ukraine– which was once the breadbasket of Europe. Since February 24, 2022, over 30% of Ukraine’s agricultural lands have been mined. We must put a stop to this,” declared Heidi Kuhn.

Daniel Yuval, an Israeli landmine victim who lost his leg in Israel’s Golan Heights as an 11-year-old boy in 2011, shared his personal story at the event broadcast online worldwide. Shortly after his tragic accident, he called Heidi Kuhn to his bedside to bring forth a landmine free world. Together, they worked with The Knesset to bring forth the first ever humanitarian mine action law. Through generous funding by Napa Valley vintners, they raised the funds to remove landmines in the fields of Bethlehem – four miles from the birthplace of Jesus Christ, where 8 children had been killed by landmines that had lurked in the area’s soil since 1948.

“I lost a leg as a child. I stepped on a landmine while I was happily running in the snow with my family,” Yuval said. “Shortly after the accident, I began working with Heidi Kuhn. We helped to demine to the fields of Bethlehem. Twelve years later, I’m now a man, and I am returning to the United States to continue to advocate with Heidi and Roots of Peace for a landmine free world. Children across the world – in Ukraine and Afghanistan and in many war-torn territories across the world – are blowing up as we speak.

Sera Koulabdara–Executive Director, Legacies of War—USCBL (Laos), Adriana Aristizabal, former war-correspondent from Colombia and iVoice Communications founder and CEO, Elizabeth Whitlow—Executive Director, Regenerative Organic Alliance (Sonoma) and Ivo Jeramaz—VP Wine Making & Viticulture, Grgich Hills Estate, were invited to the forum as experts to discuss the challenges of Cultivating Peace Through Agriculture and Education.

These panel discussions took place at the forum on Dec 2, 2022 as part of the inaugural celebration of “Festival of the Bells”, to raise global awareness regarding the 60 million landmines that remain in the soil of 60 countries worldwide. Roots of Peace has successfully facilitated the removal of over 100,000 landmines/UXO and planted over seven (7) million fruit, vines, and trees providing food security in war-torn lands.

Millions of farmers and families have benefited from the dream of turning Mines to Vines and cultivating sustainable peace through agriculture in Afghanistan, Croatia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Guatemala, Azerbaijan, and the Holy Land.

This holiday season of peace, Roots of Peace calls forth generous donations from global citizens, so that we may wage peace in Ukraine. Donate at Roots of Peace: www.rootsofpeace.org.   

PHOTOS AND IMAGES HERE 

Contact: Adriana Aristizabal

[email protected]

James Faccinto

[email protected]

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SOURCE Roots of Peace

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