A group of women in Angola are bravely working to clear their country of landmines
Each and every day, 23 people are killed by landmines all over the world. That's almost one per hour — and half of those are children, according to The Guardian.
During times of war, landmines are deadly killers. After the war is over, landmines are left behind to kill people even when there's no more enemy. But thanks to the efforts of a brave group of women in Angola, landmines are less of a threat and the community is a safer place.
Between 1975 and 2002, Angola was engaged in a civil war following their independence from Portugal. During the war, many men in the region were killed, and now this group of women are the ones dealing with the aftermath. "People might say it is not work for women, but we can do what men can do, we just need to believe and be strong — this is what I am doing," Olimpia Nduva Chicoma Dala told Global Citizen.
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Chicoma Dala is one of a team of women taking part in "Women in Demining," a project run by the HALO Trust, a nonprofit organization that removes debris left behind from war. Last year, 14 of these women worked for nearly 100 days in order to clean up over 20,400 square feet of land, the size of about 75 tennis courts.
Before the Women in Demining project came along, Chicoma Dala says she struggled to find a job. "It is really hard for women to find work in Angola, especially for my generation. When I first heard that the job with HALO involved removing landmines I was frightened — I thought maybe I will die doing this!" she said.
All-female teams are being trained in landmine clearance, vehicle mechanics, and paramedic first aid, and despite being scary work, the women find it empowering. "I remember excavating my first real mine, I was very afraid but now I am happy that I can do this work," Chicoma Dala said.
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Members of Chicoma Dala's family died during the civil war in Angola, but she's working hard to make sure that they're out of danger now that the fighting has ceased. "My family suffered during the war," Chicoma Dala said. "Some of them died running from the soldiers, some were killed by bullets. The landmines from the war represent a big danger to our lives, but as a woman I am able to contribute to my country by removing them."
Chicoma Dala has a message for women all over the world, even those who aren't involved in work as dangerous as demining. "I would like to say to all women in the world, whatever you want to do in your life, do not give up, keep on going. Do not say this is men's work, we women can do anything too," she said.