Since being injured by a landmine near his home Raul has feared for his children's safety.



For Raul, a former farm labourer, his wife, Rubiela, and their four children, the conflict has taken a heavy toll. The family have always lived in Puerto Limón, a community nestled among coffee plantations on the steep, wooded inclines of the Andes mountains in Tolima district. But in 2007 his life was changed forever when he stepped on a landmine while gathering wood in the hills—suffering serious injuries. Since then, Raul has been unable to work. His leg hasn’t healed straight and remains bent below the knee, requiring him to lean heavily on a cane to take a few steps. His back troubles him so much he’s unable to ride his horse for long and working his land forces him to spend the following three days in bed.

Raul has not been able to work since his accident so Rubiela dries and grinds the coffee grown on their land, selling it at the local market to try to support the family.



The presence of landmines has haunted the family for many years, even before Raul’s terrible accident. On the approach to their home, red danger signs shout their warning—identifying the Platanillal minefield that directly borders the only path to the house. In 2002 an illegal armed group had a camp here, telling the local community to keep away as mines had been laid. It has been a source of fear ever since. However, in May 2018, thanks to funding from the United States and the Norwegian Governments, HALO began work to make the area safe.

As Rubiela warms coffee over the outdoor stove she explains how she tries her best to support her husband and children; tending to the house and animals and preparing coffee beans to dry and sell in the market to make ends meet. Their traditional wooden house is isolated and until HALO began work here the family had for the most part endured their struggles alone, the chickens scratching in the dirt and their trusty horse the only company. There are over 11,600 victims of explosive devices registered in Colombia and the government is committed to ensuring the welfare of all conflict victims, supported by organisations like The HALO Trust. This assistance will make a big difference to their lives.

The challenges facing Raul and Rubiela have sometimes felt insurmountable, but knowing that HALO is now clearing the mines nearby is bringing comfort. Soon they will no longer have to worry their children could be injured, making Raul and his family feel safer with every passing day.

HALO began work in May 2018 to clear the Plantanillial minefield that directly borders the only path to the family's house. Raul says knowing HALO are removing the mines means they feel safer with every passing day.