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Proud to clear lands for communities

Explosive weapons
Iraq

Mawj Maad JarAllah joined the HI clearance team in Salah al Din, Iraq, last April. She tells us her motivation:

© N. Mandalawi / HI

To make a difference for my country

Last March, I started a new chapter in my life/ I became a a deminer with Handicap International (HI). I already had an experience in working in humanitarian mine action, as I delivered explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) sessions to the communities.

I want to make my community safer. And I want to have great impact by participating in actual clearance operations. I am also directly concerned by the issue of contamination: one of my relative lost a leg after stepping on an explosive ordnance a few years ago. I heard numerous stories of children affected by similar incidents during my sessions on risk education. These encounters deeply affected me and served as a powerful motivation to choose this path.

Being a female deminer

I did not hesitate to join the men-dominated field of demining. I initially faced some resistance from some male colleagues, this was not surprising considering the cultural norms that prevail. But as the field work started, the team dynamics changed and a strong camaraderie developed.
My job

Through the daily clearance operations, I locate various explosive ordnance and isolate them. They will be handled by the team leader. During the summer months, the work under the open sun is challenging due to high temperatures.

Here, clearance operations are vital to the farmers who own but cannot use the contaminated agricultural lands, as well as to the children who may accidentally  play in the hazardous areas.    

Despite the high-risk nature of her work, I never feel scared or anxious. I love my job, the daily accomplishments it brings, and the opportunity to develop my skills. The most gratifying moment is when we complete a clearance area and move on to a new land. It is a significant achievement.

My family has been incredibly supportive when I decided to become a deminer. I am highly motivated to prove that women are just as capable as men in clearance operations. I am proud to work as a deminer and actively encourage female friends to pursue similar careers.

***

Clearance operations in Iraq

HI Iraq is currently conducting land release operations in Baiji, Salah al Din governorate, and Kirkuk, Iraq, generously supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Date published: 04/09/23

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