It’s deployment day at the Halo Trust’s compound in Zimpeto district, north Maputo, Mozambique – a day that’s fondly described in Portuguese, the national tongue of Mozambique, as the day of confusão.
Halo is the world’s oldest and largest landmine-clearance organisation and, today, 15 of 26 highly specialised teams working in Maputo have just returned from their eight-day leave and are about to embark on three weeks living and working in one of Mozambique’s remaining 139 minefields. The atmos- phere is tense because these men and women work at what is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s most dangerous jobs – de-miner.
It’s still the rainy season, but today there’s nothing but brilliant sunshine and an intense wilting African heat. Helen Gray, a resourceful Scot, is pro- gramme manager for Halo (it stands for Hazardous Area Life-Support Organisation) in Mozambique. She pulls into the compound in her Nissan pick-up and surveys the scene. What greets her is a blur of activity. Land Rovers and trucks are being refuelled, tents and sleeping bags are being loaded and stores are emptied of food and the essential de-mining kit the teams will need for the three weeks they’ll spend in the field.
After several hours they are ready for deployment throughout Maputo province and they leave the relative safety of Halo’s compound.
Helen has just returned from taking Susan Eckey, deputy director-general of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, and her accompanying delegation on a fact- finding mission in the Halo minefields. One of the two all-women teams Halo employs had extended their days in the field to accommodate the visit and will now redeploy later in the week.
Halo, a non-profit non-governmental organisation, has its head office in Dumfries, Scotland. It deployed its first de-mining team in Mozambique on February 20, 1994, and has now declared the country’s six northern provinces mine-free – after exploding more than 100,000 mines – leaving only the south to be made safe.
After finishing her BSc in biology and anthropology at Durham University, Helen worked for the Scottish Sea Bird centre and then as an expedition guide in Peru’s threat- ened rainforests. Back in Britain she speculatively sent her CV to Halo. Her neighbour had told her about the organisation and she’d already decided she wanted to work in a humanitarian field.
Post A Comment
Comments are published and responded to (if required) on a weekly basis. For queries or comments about our Sweepstakes and product purchases from our online store, please call Customer Service on 0800 400 060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments containing personal or inappropriate material may be modified or removed at our discretion.
If you could renovate any room in your home - which would it be?
|NEW: Saturday Links|