The first time I heard about HALO and its operations in Nagorno Karabakh, was in 2012. Hearing the work that they do, made me to reconsider my career path. A year later I applied and got a chance to work with the HALO Nagorno Karabakh programme as an interpreter. As I started to become more involved in operations, I realised that this was the direction I wanted to take.
Soon after, I had to leave HALO and go back home to Yerevan, however in 2015, I was able to re-join HALO as a Field Officer. This was a great opportunity for me to work in different countries and regions, to see and learn different cultures, and get more experience in operations.
HALO offers excellent training to equip you for the job. I firstly spent time in Cambodia with two other trainees, Ed and Deon, both from the US (who very shortly became my very good friends). The training syllabus covers all different aspects of HALO operations, and soon I had the opportunity to participate and assist other staff with their tasks, such as controlling minefields, carrying out demolitions, preparing reports, and participating in land handover ceremonies with local authorities.
The training is challenging, but together as a strong and committed trainee team supporting each other, we made it! Along the way we shared happiness, success, failure, tiredness, exhaustion, hot and rainy days, muddy morning formations, the food that we prepared in demining camps, geopolitics, and a few drinks every time we were back in Siem Reap after a two or three week field deployment.
Next I was posted to Afghanistan, the largest HALO programme in the world, for my second phase of training (and as my teammate from Cambodia would say – the birthplace of HALO), where the culture and the life style were completely different from the Khmer one. Senior national staff that have been there since the beginning of the programme in 1988 have a lot to teach and to share.
I have gained an enormous amount of experience from my training in the HALO programmes, which I look forward to sharing with others in the many other countries and regions I hope to work in, for the many years that I am planning to work with HALO.