Meet our PEC neighbour, on-screen Sci-fi star + irl humanitarian Anthony Lemke

Posted by Drake, December 03, 2016
Anthony Lemke - Pointing

"Being an ambassador for Handicap International has opened my eyes without a doubt. It's changed my perception and has taught me to be more aware of the challenges that people living with disabilities can face."

Anthony Lemke is a familiar face to those who frequent Drake Devonshire. He's a regular who moved from Montreal to Wellington with his family just before the Devonshire opened its doors and he considers it his local. To everyone else, he's Marcus Boone, aka Three from the sci-fi hit series Dark Matter. Now he's taken on a new role as Handicap International's official Canadian ambassador. Anthony recently travelled to Laos to see Handicap International in action.

Anthony Lemke - Prosthetic

How did you get involved with Handicap International?
When I landed on Dark Matter, I knew that it was a big series and I would be afforded a bit of a megaphone. I wanted to get involved and was looking for organizations to partner with and Handicap International reached out to me. Their mandate is to help people living with disabilities who are in natural disaster zones and conflict zones. My mother-in-law was born in a displaced persons camp in Italy and my father fled Germany when he was a kid. There are people who still live through that but there are ways to help people who suffer. That's what Handicap International does. They were involved in helping get the Ottawa Treaty signed which is a treaty that banned landmines. They also help people get prosthetics and rehabilitation.

Why did you choose to go to Laos for your first trip as a Handicap International ambassador?
Laos is the most bombed country per capita in the world. There are nearly 80 million unexploded ordnance in that country today that 50 people a year die from doing things like digging or having a little fire or whatever and then the bombs that are in the ground explode on them. That number used to be 300 a year before HI and other organizations started working with them.

What are some initiatives led by HI that you got to see first hand in Laos?
In Laos, Hi is involved in every aspect from advocacy work, to education, to identification (of pre-existing conditions) to demining. We went in and saw these teams of about 12 deminers go in. They're clearing a space around the size of an average suburban high school. It takes them about a year and a half. In that year and a half they'll remove about 60 of those 79-80 million unexploded ordnance.

Anthony Lemke - Bomb

Who did you get to meet while you were on this trip?
They'll have one zone that's cleared but it's surrounded by villages and kids play in those affected areas. One of the guys I met who was a deminer, lost an eye when he was a kid playing in a situation like that. He was using a slingshot and he ran out of rocks and he found one of these little bombies in the ground. They look like little tennis balls. They're around the same size but there are also different kinds. Some of them carry little shots so he as a young boy decided to take them out of the bombie but it was the wrong kind and it exploded in his face. He lost the use of one eye and scarred his whole face and lost part of his left appendage. Now he's in his 20's and works for Handicap International in Laos. That was a touching story to see that come full circle.

Handicap International is also involved in the COPE Centre. The COPE Centre in Vientiane is also a rehabilitation centre where they make prosthetic limbs and they teach people how to use them. I was able to see a guy try on a prosthetic limb and walk for the first time in a long time. These people are missing limbs and you might expect it to be sad but it was nothing like that. His wife and family were there and the smile on his face was incredible. It was almost like a really giddy moment. It was really beautiful and touching sensitive moment and I saw his wife and his family just be so happy and thankful for what was happening.

Anthony Lemke - kids

What are some other memorable moments you'll take from this trip?
It literally brought a tear to my eye to hear the kids talk. The attitudes towards people living with disabilities is incredibly inclusive and heartening and incredibly enlgihtened. We could learn from that.

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Tags: Anthony Lemke  Drake Devonshire  Handicap International