Tony Langer is a Detective Sergeant with the West Australian Police, and founded charity organisation Imprint Solutions, which supports non-government humanitarian groups in countries devastated by remnants of war such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
At TEDxCanberra in 2013, Tony spoke about his work with Humanitarian Mine Action Groups clearing unexploded bombs and landmines in Southeast Asia.
Tony is also the recipient of the Royal Order of Sahametrei (Knighthood) for distinguished humanitarian services to the King and People of Cambodia.
I caught up with Tony to discuss where his TEDxCanberra experience has taken him, and what projects he has been working on since his talk almost three years ago.
What projects have you been working on since your TEDxCanberra talk?
I have been working to expand the projects of the charity I formed – Imprint Solutions. In addition to targeted clearance of explosive remnants of war and landmines (reducing the risk of death or serious injury) we are also conducting non-technical and technical surveys of potentially contaminated land in Vietnam/Cambodia. This is to facilitate the land’s use for agricultural purposes for people who are disadvantaged by not being able to utilise that land.
We have also been assisting with establishing schools and education programs for affected impoverished areas and ethnic minorities. We provide training and equipment for in-country nationals and minorities to achieve viably sustainable services to benefit their communities and families.
The biggest new area has been collaborating with other NGOs, universities and companies to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and skills to improve the lives of those suffering and at risk in Southeast Asia. This includes providing the skills to establish suitable housing and sustainable agricultural projects on explosive remnants of war cleared land for those impoverished people.
What has been your greatest accomplishment since TEDxCanberra?
Being able to assist with the establishment of a research and design laboratory in Cambodia. This program manufactures training aids for explosive ordnance disposal officers (local Cambodians & Vietnamese) The training aids are superior to any other training aid, in that all the moving parts function as they would on the real thing and all parts are removable, meaning explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) trainees can fully understand the workings of the dangerous items they are dealing with and readily identify where fuses and explosive components are located.
This project has been expanded to local capacity-building assistance, and is now training Cambodian university students in engineering, CAD and 3D design free of charge. This provides opportunities for learning that the students wouldn’t otherwise have access to or been able to afford. In conjunction with Handicap International, we are working towards better methods of manufacturing prosthetics and the use of 3D printers in prosthetics and other related items for handicapped people and victims of explosive remnants of war.
If you could speak at TEDxCanberra again on another topic, what would you talk about and why?
Poverty alleviation. Because I believe that with all the wealth, resources, equipment and knowledge that exist in this age, no person should be living in poverty.
Do you have any advice for future TEDxCanberra speakers?
Don’t get nervous. People are genuinely interested in what you have to say, so take advantage of that to really get your message across.
What was the best thing about your TEDxCanberra experience?
Meeting so many people from various walks of life and being able to freely engage with those people. Also listening to people’s stories and seeing their passion and dedication to their cause was truly inspiring.
How did speaking at TEDxCanberra impact your life?
It provided me with a lot more confidence when speaking publicly, and established networks of thoughtful, intelligent and caring people.
Our theme this year is “All In”. Can you describe a time when you went all in?
This for me would probably be the documentary I arranged and funded I put my life savings into it, and it was a massive gamble. I had no idea about making films or docos, so apart from being a big undertaking financially it was a massive learning curve for me. Whilst it’s still ongoing, I am confident it will achieve its aims of raising awareness once it’s completed this year, and raise awareness to the issues.