The Mothers Growing Business in Colombia
Life after landmine clearance

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Diana Gálvez is 32 years old and from El Fresnito vereda in the Antioquia region of Colombia. She is a single mother and lives with her two children, her mother and nephew. Diana has lived in this region her whole life and has been affected by the Colombia's conflict and the landmines left behind since she was a child. 

"Our history is quite complex because different armed groups have passed through here over time, leaving explosives behind. For example, where people used to collect wood and other natural resources, there are now landmines and explosives."

At the height of the conflict, her brother was badly injured by a landmine.

“My brother and two other people got badly injured and, because of the violence, the community was forced to leave. Instead of working on their land or with their livestock, they had to work in other jobs which they were not familiar with."

Safe land creates opportunities

Today Diana is settled in El Fresnito. Thanks to support from the Government of Canada, HALO has removed the landmines and explosives that threatened her community's lives and livelihoods. This has enabled Diana to take part in a project financed by the World Food Programme.

"I believe that HALO came at the right time. After the land was cleared, the Granja La María project with the World Food Programme was able to begin."

The project supports single mothers and their families. It's run by 11 women who use the land to grow crops including corn, beans, tomatoes and coriander—as well as keeping chickens. They sell their produce at market, giving them an income to improve their quality of life.

"We can now move safely, we can sow what we want without worrying about landmines. We can walk through the land and get what we need for the project, like wood or mountain soil to improve the soil quality."

Making the land safe has been important for the whole verada.

"The land was being used as path for the children to reach school but we had to stop because of the mines and take much longer routes instead."

Diana is grateful, not only to HALO, but also the Government of Canada for supporting this work.

"HALO’s work has been excellent. I am grateful to the Government of Canada who fund HALO’s demining work. Today we have the confidence to return to our land and, above all, to empower ourselves by continuing our heritage as farmers of this land."