Risking life, limb for others’ safety

The Sunday Mail

Veronica Gwaze

WATCHING them going about their each day duties tells a narrative of powerful and daring ladies with an unflinching want to tackle even essentially the most harmful duties in a largely male-dominated area.

Such is their bravery that they get up each day to labour in landmine infested fields, seemingly oblivious to the dangers and risks that encompass them.

Landmines are among the many most barbaric weapons of battle which proceed to kill and maim the harmless lengthy after the conflicts have ended.

4 a long time after Independence, dense and unfenced landmine belts that had been laid by the Rhodesian military alongside the nation’s borders with Zambia and Mozambique proceed to trigger hurt.

Lives, livestock and limbs are misplaced nearly each day. Nonetheless, it’s not all gloomy.

HALO Belief, an organisation largely working in war-torn communities, is recovering the landmines and making the land protected.

The organisation is concerned in landmine clearance in not less than 150 international locations throughout the globe. Thus far, working in partnership with Authorities, they’ve eliminated greater than 142 000 landmines from 15,7 million sq. metres of land in Zimbabwe.

An additional 3,7 million sq. metres nonetheless await clearance. Apparently, ladies are on the core of their operations as they worth gender parity.

Out of their 405 expert area workers members, 97 are ladies.

The Sunday Mail Society visited varied minefields in Rushinga final week the place among the ladies shared their experiences.


One of the touching tales is that of 36-year-old Angeline Chioko.

Born in Mukumbura, she turned one of many first 5 females to affix the landmine clearance programme below HALO Belief in 2016.

Her tough expertise and resilience has turned her right into a shining beacon.

Chioko was thrust into the deep finish at a young age following the premature demise of her father when she was in Type Two.

She instantly dropped out of faculty to seek for work in Harare since she may now not afford charges.

At 16, she was already a housemaid and labored within the northern suburbs of Highlands and Borrowdale.

“Ordinarily, that could be a school-going age and one needs to be house with mother and father. I didn’t have the privilege to take action as a result of horrible scenario I discovered myself in at house,” remembers Chioko.

Her abusive marriage to a gold panner on the age of 18 didn’t final.

Nonetheless, it left her a single mom of three.

“I went via hell. He all the time discovered purpose to depart me nursing all kinds of accidents.

“At some point I gathered braveness and left for my mother and father’ place the place I then acquired a job as a storekeeper,” she mentioned.

Girl luck lastly smiled on her in 2015 following a number of years of wrestle as she secured employment as a de-miner.

Along with 4 different women, she was deployed to Nyakatondo base in Mt Darwin the place they underwent rigorous coaching.

“It was not straightforward however due to the scenario at house, quitting was by no means an choice,” recounts Chioko.

Her first day within the minefield, she mentioned, was nerve-wrecking. However she regularly warmed up and commenced to fall in love with the job. Nonetheless, her new-found confidence was partially reversed a yr later.

“I heard a loud explosion, which pressured me to down my instruments as my coronary heart throbbed. I then heard my supervisor calling me for help. After I acquired to the scene, I found it was my pal. We had been each shaken though the harm was not severe. We took her to Karanda Mission Hospital,” narrated Chioko.

Naturally, she needed to give up upon returning to camp the next day.

However they had been provided essential counselling which helped restore her confidence.

Nonetheless, Chioko’s mom was not amused when she heard concerning the accident and sought to make her give up.

“The incident made me stronger and perfected my commerce ability,” she mentioned.

Chioko was promoted in her first yr of service, July 2016 to be exact, and have become a piece commander.

By means of her glorious service and dedication, she was once more promoted to change into the primary feminine supervisor — a place she holds thus far.

She leads a division of about 30 folks.

“It’s not powerful commanding a battalion on account of my gender as a result of we’ve got mutual respect for one another,” mentioned Chioko.

Betrayal, Agony, Pleasure

Ever Magunda shares an nearly comparable story with Chioko. After shedding each mother and father at a really tender age, she needed to transfer in along with her uncle and aunt.

Ever Magunda and her son Vincent Chimwara stand outdoors their three-bedroom home

And that marked the start of her sorrowful story. “I used to be pressured to drop out of faculty after I was in Grade Seven. This was even supposing I used to be on a Fundamental Training Help Module (BEAM) grant. My aunt and uncle argued {that a} woman couldn’t transcend main faculty degree,” she mentioned.

BEAM officers tried in useless to sweet-talk her guardians to rethink their place.

As a substitute, they forcibly married her off at 16.

Initially, the wedding appeared blissful earlier than it morphed right into a union of horror.

Bodily and psychological abuse turned the order of the day.

However at some point the husband deserted the matrimonial house and later remarried.

Her in-laws knew every little thing, however saved Magunda at the hours of darkness even when she confronted them.

She, nevertheless, later found that her husband and the brand new spouse had been residing together with his mother and father. “I used to be heartbroken and left for my uncle’s place with our two youngsters.”

After years of surviving on piece jobs, she acquired formally employed by HALO Belief in 2016. Initially, she joined as a chef.

Impressed by her friends’ work in making the setting protected, she went on to affix the de-mining crew two years later.

She now owns a neat, fashionable and well-furnished house that stands out within the village the place they’re based mostly.

Each time she leaves for obligation, Magunda prays for security. “I knew what I used to be getting myself into after I turned a de-miner. I needed to be courageous and cling to protected working procedures,” she mentioned.

Having acquired huge data round landmines, Magunda additionally takes time to enlighten fellow villagers on staying protected at risk zones.

She urged ladies to cease limiting themselves and contemplate taking on even dangerous and menial roles to offer for his or her households.


For some, taking the dangerous job has been impressed by a want to help others.

One such character is Batsirai Chinhema.

She is taking good care of an prolonged household that features her two youngsters and 6 others from her struggling siblings.

“All I needed was to offer for my household so even after I acquired on to the minefield, I used to be not scared in any respect,” revealed Chinhema.

“When my siblings acquired to know the character of my work, they tried to dissuade me. Nonetheless, it didn’t work.”

They now assist her.

In reality, her sister has since joined the organisation and they’re in the identical crew.

Chinhema is now a revered position mannequin in her group.

Other than her formal work, she can also be establishing an enormous fish farming challenge.

“I consider what males can do, ladies may, what we merely want is bravery.”

Her colleague Magnificence Nyamande weighs in.

“I’m  the primary born in a household six and needed to change into a ‘guardian’ following the dying of my father in 2003,” she mentioned.

Nyamande joined the demining organisation in the identical yr as her colleagues however as a part of the second recruitment batch.

Having witnessed numerous landmine accidents in her village, she understood the character of the job.

“Most ladies had been scared however I informed myself that I used to be going to do it for my household. I needed to be there for them,” mentioned Nyamande.

She has over time risen via the ranks and presently holds the place of part commander.

“At first I used to be reserved, particularly round male subordinates however now I’ve moved out of my cocoon. I’ve gained expertise by the day.

“I do know when and the way to put my foot down even when coping with male subordinates,” mentioned Nyamande.

Miriam Nyemba, a widow, mentioned the duty turns into straightforward whenever you take away your first landmine.

“I heard HALO Belief was recruiting within the village and I made a decision to go for it regardless of realizing totally nicely how harmful landmines had been,” she mentioned.

“Initially it was powerful however after eradicating my first landmine, it gave me confidence and braveness to do it each day.

“After I acquired my first landmine, my coronary heart skipped a bit and I shivered, however after that, I used to be extra assured and desperate to make the group protected for everybody,” she mentioned.

As a guardian, Nyemba mentioned, you prioritise your youngsters’s security and that’s what offers me the zeal to face every day on the sphere.

HALO Belief, along side Cassim’s Prosthetics, presently helps amputees who misplaced limbs to landmine accidents.

Additionally they present communities with landmine threat schooling.


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