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Although the forest around the village was mined, Afet Vila needed to work to cut firewood so that the family could survive.

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Her husband, Afet, had been working in the forest to collect firewood—a vital source of both fuel and income for many local families. The area had been heavily mined during the war but with no other way to earn money, the Vila family had little choice but to risk entering the forest.

Whilst cutting wood Afet stood on a landmine—it detonated immediately, taking off his leg. In an effort to find and help Afet, his brother was also injured. The terrible news spread through the village, reaching Zejnepe.

“They took my children into another room and told me about the accident—I felt my world collapse and then my body collapsed as I fainted.”

Afet Vila lost his leg in the accident meaning he was unable to work, leaving Zejnepe responsible for supporting the family.

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The accident left Afet bedridden for nine months, unable to work or support his family. Zejnepe took care of the house and children as best she could but it was a struggle to survive.

“Life after the accident was full of fear. The children were afraid to go out. They couldn’t enjoy their childhood and didn’t even think about playing outside because of what had happened to their father.”

Afet eventually underwent surgery and now has a prosthetic leg which allows him to get around but he has not been able to work since the accident.

Wood is an important source of fuel for cooking and heating but the majority of Kosovo's 47 remaining minefields are in forested areas—posing a serious risk to local people.

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Many of Kosovo's 47 remaining minefields are in forested areas. This has a devastating impact on local people who rely on woodcutting to heat their homes or as a means to earn a living.

HALO has been working to make these areas safe. In November 2017, our deminers finished clearing the minefield where Afet had his accident—removing a further 18 landmines that could have injured or killed more villagers. By the end of the year, Paldenica will be mine free and families like Zejnepe’s will be able to use the forest without fear.

“I am too old now to really enjoy life but I am happy knowing that my children and grandchildren will live in a safe place free of mines.”

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