Damian O’Brien, Cambodia Programme Manager
Cambodia is HALO’s second oldest programme, established 28 years ago in response to the devastating accident rate caused by the thousands of landmines laid during the ousting of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 and throughout the 80s and 90s.
Thanks to the dedication of our team of Cambodian staff, around half of the country’s minefields have now been cleared. Last week we were honoured to celebrate the loyalty and outstanding contribution of eight of our longest serving Cambodian team. Between them, they have amassed over 200 years of working for HALO. Their skills and expertise have saved countless lives. The work they do is challenging, spending weeks at a time out in the field which requires them to display great physical and mental discipline to conduct their job safely and efficiently.
Over the years, they have not only passed on their knowledge and wisdom to hundreds of Cambodian colleagues, but also to the many international HALO staff who begin their training in Cambodia.
The incredible contribution of our Cambodian colleagues was marked at a special event in Phnom Penh attended by the British Ambassador, Tina Redshaw, the US Deputy Chief of Mission, Michael Newbill and senior representatives of the Cambodian Mine Action Authority.
US Deputy Chief of Mission, Michael Newbill
“It’s not just the job. When I take a mine from the ground and destroy it, I feel we’ve helped those people’s lives. It’s not just my money, it’s not just my job, we save people’s lives. I am very proud.”
Meet HALO Cambodia's longest serving staff
Mr Uch May is HALO Cambodia’s longest serving member of staff. He began working for HALO as a deminer in 1992 before being promoted to Assistant Survey Officer, one of the most challenging and technical roles in HALO.
Mr Moeun Samet began working for HALO as a deminer in 1994, but after demonstrating a natural grasp for all things mechanical, he joined our team of mechanics. Today he is the Workshop Manager for our Cambodian HQ in Siem Reap. His crew are vital to keeping HALO’s teams on the road so they can carry out their life-saving work.
Mr Ream Sarath was recruited to HALO Cambodia as a deminer in 1993. Three years later he became Section Commander, leading a team of deminers across northern and western Cambodia. His commitment and hard work were recognised with a promotion to Field Officer, meaning he is responsible for several minefield clearance teams.
Mr Houn Ny also began work as a deminer for HALO in 1993 before being promoted to Section Commander and then Field Officer in 2007. He is known by his colleagues for being dedicated and diligent in his work and is currently employed as a Survey Officer.
Mrs Seang Sokvy began work for HALO as a maid in 1994 but after two years was promoted to Assistant Office Manager. Her hard work and organisational abilities were quickly recognised with a promotion to Office Manager and today she is HALO Cambodia’s HQ Office Manager in Siem Reap.
Mr Thai Rit has worked for HALO for the past 25 years. He was a deminer for 13 years, spending weeks at a time out in the field. Today he is a Section Commander, leading his own team of deminers and continuing to rid his country of landmines.
Mr Monn Seit is HALO Cambodia's longest serving deminer, having worked in the role for over 25 years. This is an incredible testament to his dedication, working tirelessly day-after-day in the physically and mentally challenging conditions of the minefield.
Mr Smann Makara started working for HALO as a deminer in 1994. After just two years he was promoted to Section Commander. Makara is recognised for his leadership and strong work ethic. He was appointed Field Officer and Trainer in 1998, before serving as a Location Manager from 2000 to 2013. Today he is the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Survey Manager, responsible for nine different teams.