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(E) Jan Mihelich helps Croatia clean landmines
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/20/2004 | Charity | Unrated
(E) Jan Mihelich helps Croatia clean landmines

Eating out can help effort to clear minefield in Croatia

Local activists make the pitch to raise funds for worthy cause

Tribune Staff Writer

Jan Mihelich and the South Bend Adopt-A-Minefield committee are raising money to clear a minefield in Croatia.

Tribune Photo/GREG SWIERCZ

How to help

Send donations to the Adopt-A-Minefield campaign at the Notre Dame Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 7878, Notre Dame, IN 46556.

Make checks payable to Eliminate the Land mines.

Contributions are eligible for a tax deduction.

Another way to help

Eat at the Hacienda Mexican restaurant at 5836 Grape Road today or at Barnaby's restaurant at 713 E. Jefferson on Feb. 3.

Hacienda will donate 20 percent of meal and drink costs to Eliminate the Land mines. And Barnaby's will donate 10 percent of all meal and drink costs served that day to Eliminate the Land mines.

To donate by eating at Hacienda, a coupon is required. This can be found at Martin's Super Markets.

To learn more, call (574) 232-3844 or (574) 273-5354. Or go online at

Croatia land mine facts

Total country area: 56,538 km

Number of suspected mines: 400,000

Types of mines: 10 identifiable types of mines, including the Yugoslav-made MT-4, PMA-2 and PMA-3.

Sources of mines: Land mines were deployed by Croat, Serb and Muslim forces during the former Yugoslavia conflict in the early 1990s.

Location of mines: The most heavily mined areas are in eastern and western Slavonia and coastal areas north of Split.

United Nations presence: A mine action center was established in 1996 to help develop a national demining capacity, to provide advice to the government and to maintain a database of land mines. The center activities have since been transferred to the Croatian Mine Action Centre.

-- Source: Adopt-A-Minefield of the United Nations Association of the U.S.A.

After visiting Croatia and seeing firsthand the devastation that land mines can cause to innocent people, Jan Mihelich of South Bend decided to take action.

"I have been there, and it's the only place I've been with land mines, so I felt a connection," Mihelich said. "I've long been concerned about land mines."

Mihelich started a branch of the Adopt-A-Minefield organization in South Bend after seeing an advertisement for the national organization in a magazine. Mihelich is chairwoman of the nine-member committee.

"The ad told me there is something I can do," she said. "There's this little voice inside of you that says, 'I can help.' "

An estimated 26,000 innocent people are killed or injured every year in land mine explosions around the world, and a third of these are children, according to the Adopt-A-Minefield campaign.

"The land mines don't know that the war is over, so they detonate," Mihelich said. "We have to get rid of land mines so children can play and people can work in the fields."

These minefields have been placed during past wars in about 70 countries, including Bosnia, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Croatia.

"When there's a war, one of the ways they fight is with land mines," Mihelich said.

Land mines come in various sizes and strengths. They explode when a person walks or a vehicle drives over them.

Each one only costs $3 to make but $300 to $1,000 to remove. The local Adopt-A-Minefield committee is hoping to raise at least $25,000 to clear one minefield in Croatia, Mihelich said. The community has responded generously since December, with about $3,000 raised so far.

A minefield in Croatia was chosen because the money donated to Croatia will be doubled by the International Trust Fund, Mihelich said.

The national Adopt-A-Minefield organization will decide which minefield will be cleared with the money. For instance, a minefield that sits between a village and its water supply desperately needs to be removed, Mihelich said.

Mihelich encourages the public to give because all money donated goes directly to the land mine clearing efforts in Croatia.

"Other causes are worthy, but for some, about 70 percent (of the donation) goes to overhead (costs)," she said. "For this, you know every penny you give goes to clearing land mines because we have a couple of 'angels' who are taking care of postage and other overhead.

"This is saving lives, so people are not blinded, injured or maimed."

Staff writer Teresa Falk:

Editor's Note:

Fact is that 99% of the landmines in Croatia have been planted by Serbs. Also, fact is that the UN has no charter or any kind of document in preparation, that I know, which will make people who planted the landmines, first give data of where they are, and second clear them on their expense. In this case government of Serbia and Montenegro, should as soon as possible give data, where the landmines are and secondly, but not after, PAY for the clearing the land. Is our government asking for it? Suing them in Hague WAR REPARATIONS. It is evident that Croatian community around the world is getting together to clear our own homeland. Wonderful effort from Ms. Mihelich. We should get her address and thank her.

Nenad Bach

Editor in Chief

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