Our programme in Nagorno Karabakh deployed its first team of female deminers on 14th July 2015. The locally-recruited team of five women underwent a 3-week intensive demining course followed by a week of paramedic training. Since then, the team has been conducting clearance of minefields close to their community and their productivity has been on par with other more experienced male teams. Deployment of the team not only represents a programme ‘first’, but also a clear barrier broken down in the conservative attitudes towards the role of women in the region.
Christine Kachataryan is a 35 year old married mother of three children aged 4 to 15 years old. She worked as an accountant and secretary before joining HALO. Christine says,
I knew of the mines problem in Karabakh and I wanted to do something different with my life. Now I love this job and I know I am doing something good for my community. My family are proud of me, and I am able to better support them.
Marina Barseghian is a mother of six children. Her eldest son is a policeman and her eldest daughter is a nursing student. Marina says,
My husband works as a guard at our village’s school. I was working as a cleaner at the school too, but when I learned about recruitment at HALO, I decided to join. Landmines have affected all our lives; one my friends lost her leg while grazing her cattle.
I like my job and I am very happy. My salary helps me pay my kids’ tuition. I am very grateful that I can provide for my family’s needs.
Twenty three year old Varditer Shaboyan is the second eldest of 12 siblings. Varditer says,
Before joining HALO, I worked as a guard at my village’s school but the salary was low. My mother was sick and I had to work to help support my siblings. I was very glad when I heard that HALO recruits female deminers. Now that I work for HALO, I can properly support my family.
At first my father didn’t approve of my decision to become a deminer. But I wanted to do something significant for my community and in my life. Now he is proud of me.