It is over 40 years since the end of the Liberation war and yet every day thousands of people in Zimbabwe are still risking life and limb by crossing minefields to fetch water, farm their land or get to school.
HALO has recorded over 75,000 people directly affected by landmines in the north east of Zimbabwe. With so many people living in such close proximity to minefields it is no surprise that people continue to get killed and injured and that there are a great many landmine survivors in need of prosthetic limbs.
Zimbabwe has no social security safety net for such people so prosthetics have to be purchased at full value. This is generally beyond the means of the survivors themselves. Even if funds are available it is apparent that the expertise is also in short supply.
To help meet this gap HALO has linked up with a locally based specialist, Cassim’s Prosthetics, and put in place a relatively simple system.
As a first step, HALO identifies survivors and gathers contact details. We then arrange for Mr Cassim and the survivors to come together at the same place, for instance at a HALO demining camp. Mr Cassim assesses the survivors, taking measurements and casts for the limbs required. Finally, 6 – 8 weeks later HALO arranges for a second meeting of Mr Cassim and the survivors. Mr Cassim fits the limbs to those survivors seen last time and measures up any new people identified.
The provision of a limb transforms lives overnight by restoring independence and self-esteem. As beneficiary Matanhura Khupera said:
Now I can farm my land again.
Thanks to financial assistance from the United States Department of State and the British NGO ZANE over 30 survivors have benefited so far and the project has been extremely well received. Many more survivors need similar assistance and HALO hopes to expand the project in 2016.
As witnessed by Landmines in Africa, the impacts on the local communities are staggering.
We have so far cleared 10,000 mines from 30km of minefield frontage but there is still a very long way to go.