Every child deserves to be schooled in a decent building, but when plans were made to extend the schoolhouse at Ponleachey village in Cambodia, the construction team and its Japanese funders found themselves in need of more than a spirit level. Unaware that a villager had already found two Type 72A mines near the site just two years earlier, the building work came to a halt when a woman was seriously injured after accidentally hitting a mine with her shovel.
Terrified there may be more undiscovered mines in the ground, parents kept their children at home and out of danger. Thankfully the HALO Trust responded to an urgent request to clear the land and sent in a team funded by DFID in October 2014. The site was cleared of landmines by December and the children returned to school. Building work recommenced shortly afterwards and the new school building was completed in 2015.
A DFID-funded deminer working at Ponleachey School.
Some of the children studied outside a teacher’s house during clearance.