Mohammed Wayed (20) and his family have farmed wheat and barley in Al Rumila village for generations. The family of eight live together in a small house near their two acre (7,400 m2 ) plot of land. To supplement their income Mohammed’s father Hameed taught Arabic at an all-boys primary school in a nearby village. The village was a quiet place until 2015, when ISIS invaded.
At that time Mohammed and his family fled to Erbil for their safety. Knowing no one in Erbil, Hameed had to work odd jobs to earn a living. It was a difficult time, and the family missed their home. They were able to return to Al Rumila in 2017 after Fallujah was liberated from ISIS, but the village was drastically different from the one they had left behind.
Mohammed and his family returned to find their house in ruins, with walls collapsed by shells and furniture destroyed. Their farm was littered with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other explosives laid behind by ISIS, which made the land impossible to work. The area they could farm shrunk from to just three-quarters of an acre (3,000 m2).
Hameed immediately returned to working the land that was safe, determined to rebuild his home and support his family. However, tragedy struck one morning when he was out on the farm. While he was walking home Hameed unknowingly stepped into hazardous area and detonated an IED.
After Hameed's death, the family’s only source of income was the pension he had received from the school where he had worked. No one farmed, and the land that was once productive lost its use. The family petitioned the government to clear their farm but had no support until HALO arrived in February 2023.
With funding from Luxembourg, HALO deployed one mechanical and one manual clearance team to clear the area of explosive hazards. Shortly after deploying, HALO teams found this to be one of the most contaminated areas they had ever cleared. In less than 3 weeks the team had already removed 118 IEDs.
When clearance is complete Mohammed Wayed will take up his father’s mantle and start to farm the land himself. He has already planted wheat in safe areas and will be able to cultivate the entire farm when all IEDs are removed. With the income the family earns they will finally finish renovating their house and replacing furniture that was destroyed by the conflict. Mohammed also plans to build a house for himself and start a family of his own one day.
Mohammed and his family are extremely grateful for the work HALO is doing in Al Rumila. With the support of Luxembourg, HALO is creating livelihood opportunities for households across the village. By clearing agricultural lands, HALO is boosting economic development and improving food security in an area long overlooked by government officials and other aid organisations. Mohammed’s family has returned to the land that has been in their family for generations and can build a strong future for those to come.
HALO's work in Al Rumila Village and Al Anbar Governorate is generously
supported by the Government of Luxembourg