Domingas Luzia, 100 Women in Demining, Angola
Domingas Luzia is 30 years old and mother to three children. She also clears landmines.
Every day, alongside a team of other formidable women funded by Bp Angola, she works tirelessly to clear the minefields that still haunt Angola’s rural communities, nearly two decades after the end of the country’s civil war.
At first my family were against it because it is a very risky job, but gradually they got used to it. My family realised that we work safely and that by working for HALO I am helping the family a lot. The salary I earn at HALO really helps, it helps a lot in the education of my children: I can pay for their school, I can help my husband with groceries, bills and in case of illness. And it also helps with the purchase of other things. They have seen that, as a paramedic, I can help the family at any time: when they need assistance at home, I can give them injections, IV fluids and treat their wounds. They are very happy and I am very grateful for the knowledge I gained at HALO.
Working together with other women is wonderful. We are very close, when one of us feels unwell in the minefields, the others come to her and express their affection, we are really welcoming and even in the work itself we are very close, the work goes smoothly, without problems. In the beginning the accommodation was an issue because I had never lived with so many people for so long. It was difficult but also a stimulating challenge. Today we bond very well, we are like sisters: one knows the pain of the other; when one is upset, the other gives her advice; in moments of suffering we cry together; we celebrate moments of joy together. So the accommodation really is our home.
Many of those who live in my area can't even believe that I do this work because there is still this taboo that it’s a man’s job and so they are surprised by the job I do. But in the end they praise us and thank us for our humanitarian work. We help the community a lot and therefore they like the work I do.
Cristina César is 23 years old and from the province of Benguela. She has worked for HALO for a year and is a paramedic trained deminer. Her job is vital to help support her family, although at first they were worried about her taking on the work of clearing landmines.
At first my family were worried because they thought it was heavy and man’s work. At the beginning it was difficult for me too but I got used to it. We had a training course first and only when we completed it successfully were we allowed to enter the minefields. It was difficult but I have already got used to it.
Working for HALO has influenced my life a lot because the salary I earned before, when I was teaching, didn’t allow me to do much. I needed to look after my mother and the teacher's salary was very low. Thank God HALO came to our aid.
Cristina César, 100 Women in Demining, Angola
In March 2020, bp Angola increased its financial grant to $6.1 million over three years to support HALO's work in Angola, including funding least 85 women to train as deminers in the western province of Benguela. Thanks to this support, women like Domingas and Cristina are playing an important role in the future of their communities and country.