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A Machine to Uproot Land Mines

12/6/2004 - 5:15 AM PST

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Nathan Kunz Talks About the Digger DTR Project

GENEVA, DEC. 6, 2004 (Zenit) - A group of Swiss youths has launched a peaceful war against land mines and invented an instrument to destroy the lethal devices.

In the context of a conference against antipersonnel mines, which closed today, Nathan Kunz, a sales and finance manager of the Digger DTR project, explained his motivations.

Q: You are working on the production and launching of an innovative machine, the Digger D-1, already tried out on the spot, to destroy mines and make vast tracts of land cultivable. Will it bring hope to people gripped by fear of these weapons scattered around their lands?

Kunz: Digger D-1 is an armored vehicle that is used with a remote control. It cuts the vegetation and makes the mines explode, which are hidden in the ground.

Its purpose is to guarantee security and speed up the work of humanitarian, mine-destroying agents. It is a sort of tank, which moves with chains, strikes and penetrates the ground some 20 centimeters, and leaves the land ready for cultivation.

Q: What are the prospects?

Kunz: After the D-1, the first vehicle we produced, we are now developing the second generation of this machine, the Digger D-2, which will be mass-produced by mid-2005.

Q: Why did you launch yourselves on this project? What are your motivations?

Kunz: Frederic Guerne was at the origin of this project, in 1998. As an electronics engineer, he wanted to put his talents at the service of his neighbor. From his childhood, he was interested in explosives, which led him to opt for humanitarian mine destruction.

My motivation, like Guerne's and that of part of the team, is to put our Christian faith into practice through our work.

Q: How many people are in the team? What are their talents?

Kunz: The team is made up of 30 members; most are volunteers. For five years, the work was done totally on a volunteer basis, which represented over 20,000 hours of work. Since the beginning of this year, some of the people are on salaries; at present, they are four.

The strength of our team is its complementarity. In fact, the 30 people who work for the organization come from as varied backgrounds as they are complementary: mechanical and electronic engineers, automobile technicians, general mechanics, car mechanics, computers experts, locksmiths, coach builders, farmers, tree cutters, truckers, secretaries, and translators.

This complementarity allows us to have both a theoretical and practical approach to the problems.

Q: In this work, you have the support of the Geneva Town Council and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Destruction. What help do they give you?

Kunz: The Geneva Town Council has given us its support, financing the cost of the first D-2 vehicle, which will be used in an operation in Sudan. The Swiss Foundation for Mine Destruction has given us technical advice to develop the D-2, and will use our first machine in its program in Sudan.

Q: What do you need to continue the project?

Kunz: First of all, we need financial help. To produce 10 machines a year we still need 365,000 euros [$484,000].

Q: You referred to Frederic Guerne's Christian motivations and those of part of the team. How does this conviction help you?

Kunz: We are not a Christian organization. We are Christians and non-Christians who work together for a common objective. I am speaking on a personal level. My motivation comes from my Christian faith.

I have involved myself to this project as I wish to use the gifts God has given me to help my neighbor. God has helped me concretely in my work; I can confide in him, speak with him about certain situations, and he helps me. Up to today, he has taken care of us and has not abandoned us.

This privileged contact with him helps us, day after day, and enables us to see the future with confidence, as we know he is by our side.

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Keywords

Land Mines, War, Weapons, Europe

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