With so much going on at HALO, we're excited to bring back The Minesweeper to share our latest news and stories, and to share insights into the HALO community you are part of.
We hope you enjoy the latest stories in this edition! If you'd like to hear an update from a particular HALO program or project in the next Minesweeper, or if you have a question you've always wanted to ask, let us know by replying to this email.
The HALO Trust (USA)
HALO Art in Colombia: We're excited to spotlight this beautiful mural at The HALO training center in La Fría, Colombia. It was painted by HALO's very own construction team member Juan David. Juan included four hands in the center of the mural, and he told us why - “The four hands represent the different ethnic groups from the Cauca region, and they celebrate diversity, inclusivity, and neutrality”
Update from the Field: Ukraine
Hear from our colleague, Sophia, who just returned from an impactful visit to the field in Ukraine:
"My first HALO program visit to Ukraine was an incredible experience. To be able to see firsthand our work on the ground and its monumental impact was unforgettable. And meeting the Ukrainians on the ground making it all possible made me so proud to work alongside them.
While in country, I had the opportunity to travel to our operations in Kharkiv Oblast and visit two minefields that are currently being cleared by our teams. The first was in a town called Chkalovske, where the task was a children's soccer field that was covered in mines. At that time, the team had only finished clearing a small area the size of a penalty box, and had already found 5 anti-personnel mines.
Standing there, it felt like the field was just asking to be played on. The spring weather had just emerged, the sun was shining, and the grass was lush. But we all knew the dangers that lay just inches beneath the surface. Unfortunately, a curious kid wouldn't. The need for clearance is absolutely vital for the Ukrainian people of towns like Chkalosvke to live their lives without fear, because as I learned being in Ukraine- even during wartime, there is no where else they'd rather be than home.
The strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people is inspiring beyond words. I am grateful to those that I met for sharing their stories with me and feel so lucky to be able to share them with our supporters. I look forward to sharing more with you all soon."
Starting Clearance in Waghaz district, Afghanistan
Waghaz is a remote district in Afghanistan that has seen heavy conflict the past 40 years. Landmines here threaten lives and livelihoods as minefields cover acres of agricultural land and a local unpaved road connecting nearby villages. In March, HALO began clearance operations in the district. So far 15 anti-tank mines and 1 additional unexploded ordnance (UXO) have been safely destroyed. Approximately 988 acres of land have been confirmed as contaminated in Waghaz. HALO plans to clear 5 minefields here of about 150 acres throughout 2023.
Safaa has led the way in breaking new ground for Iraqi women working in humanitarian mine clearance. She was the first HALO female member of staff in Iraq to earn her Explosive Ordnance Level Three qualification. Today, she is a Team Leader, heading up a mixed team of men and women clearing battlefields in her hometown of Baiji. Read more about the women clearing bombs in Iraq.