Omar Land Mine Museum

Kabul

This is a museum that only a country like Afghanistan could host. Run by the Organisation for Mine clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR), it acts as a training and education centre for land mine and UXO clearance. The exhibit holds more than 60 types of mine that still litter the countryside, from small anti-personnel mines to those the size of dinner plates aimed at vehicles. There are mines made by almost any country you care to think of, except Afghanistan itself. The most sobering by far are the Russian ‘butterfly’ mines often picked up by children mistaking them for plastic toys. Where most mines are deliberately camouflaged, these come in a range of bright, kid-friendly colours. OMAR is the country’s leading demining organisation, with over 500 Afghans working in mine-clearance. Education is an important second facet to their work. Murals and posters depicting types of mine and UXO can be found everywhere in Afghanistan – visual education aids being particularly important in a country with low literacy levels. OMAR is also working in partnership with the UK charity No Strings (www.nostrings.org.uk), which uses puppet theatre to teach land mine safety information to children. Mines kill and injure more children than adults, and the use of story to illustrate what happens when a mine is picked up or disturbed is a highly effective educational tool. In addition to the theatre, a mobile cinema has been set up showing a No Strings film called Chuche the Little Carpet Boy, a modern Afghan version of the Pinocchio story, where a grandmother who has lost her family to land mines makes herself a new child out of carpet rags.