In a country where poverty is widespread, cultivating land is a vital source of income. But when your land is contaminated with mines this can create an impossible choice. All too often, the urgent need to support growing families means using dangerous ground becomes a necessity. Sometimes people are not even fully aware of the terrible risks involved.
Kum Nisa is 25-years-old and has three young children; Pheap Sokheng, Pheap Sokhom and Pheap Vann. A hardworking mother, she grows rice and works as a labourer to support her family. Often whilst digging the soil Kum Nisa would see landmines hidden in the earth but paid them little heed. She explains that she was not afraid because she did not realise how dangerous landmines are and assumed they did not work.
It was only when HALO began to remove the landmines from Kum Nisa’s land and our teams were able to educate her about the danger that she fully understood the threat they posed to her family. She was shocked to see them so close to her home, especially when she realised their power.
Today Kum Nisa’s land is safe and she is experimenting with growing corn instead of rice to earn more money to support her children. With a broad smile she describes how happy she is now her land is cleared and how lucky she feels that her family are safe from the landmines.
Thanks to funding from the UK Department for International Development, HALO has cleared 1,137 minefields across Cambodia since 1997, as well as educating communities about the dangers of landmines so people can stay safe until they are removed from the ground for good. Between 2018 and 2020 the UK Government is providing over seven million pounds for humanitarian mine action in Cambodia and HALO is leading a consortium of organisations, including Mines Advisory Group and Norwegian People's Aid to clear mines and the explosive debris of war from communities in the north and west of the country. The new funding will enable a further 54,410,202m2 of land to be released by March 2020—building a secure future for mothers like Kum Nisa.