As the world returns to school, from Laos to Iraq to the Caucasus, children in the countries where HALO works are getting risk education lessons that help them and their communities to stay safe until we can clear them of dangers forever.
This school is in Manchi Village, Sepon District in Laos, the most heavily bombed country in the world, where unexploded bombs are still injuring and killing people. In Manchi a local woman had been sweeping her yard and went to burn the debris when an item of ordnance buried in the ground exploded, injuring her and her two children.
Following the accident HALO held two risk education sessions in the village, one at the primary school (pictured below) and the other an evening session to reach as many older residents as possible after the working day. These days when HALO delivers a safety message to local people it combines it with public health lessons on COVID-19 and dengue fever alongside the standard sessions on unexploded bombs.
In Nagorno Karabakh, in the Caucasus, a fresh round of fighting in 2020 means there is an urgent need for HALO's risk education classes. HALO teams are clearing as much deadly debris as quickly as they can, but the risk education outreach team is also prioritising the communities that were particularly affected by the conflict in September-October last year.
This short films show Anahit Grigoryan, the risk education team leader at Aygestan school in Karabakh.
"In each place we give people risk education lessons to make them aware of the dangers, especially the children as they are so curious and pick things up. In Baiji we have found all types of explosives and ammunition. From small pieces of ammunition, to IEDs and missiles. We find many 40mm launch grenades."
Safa says: "We go to all areas across Baiji where there are dangerous explosives and IEDs to make a survey of the threats. Every day we meet with local people to ask about the hazards they have encountered. For me, the most important part of my job is being able to remove the threats from where people live so they can come home safely. I remember one elderly lady who had found a dangerous item in her garden. She was so scared and sat every day to warn people to stay away. When we were able to safely remove it, she was so happy and grateful, she was crying and hugged us. That is what I love about my job."