Jessica, Form 2, Mukosa Secondary School
Rushinga district is in north east Zimbabwe, bordering Mozambique. In this rural community families survive by farming the land —growing maize, sorghum and other grains—but constant droughts mean life is hard. The average annual household income is just 576 USD. Since the Liberation War of the 1970s, the people here have also faced another threat—landmines.
These are some of the most dense mine belts in the world. They cut off access to land and resources, in-still fear, kill valuable livestock and cause devastating accidents. For local students, attending school can also mean walking directly through a minefield. At Nyamuzeya Secondary, where Charles is a student, one in four pupils are crossing the minefield just to get to class.
“The book I am holding here, The Minefield, taught me about what to do when I encounter a landmine. When I see a minefield I should tell people from The HALO Trust, teachers and local authorities.”
Since 2015, thanks to support from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA), HALO has been working with The Happy Readers programme, to teach children how to stay safe from the landmines. The Minefield is a specially designed book which teachers of the dangers, while improving English literacy skills through a series of comprehension and spelling exercises. In the last year alone, we have distributed over 3,000 books to 18 schools that are located close to the minefields all thanks to US funding.
Ms Marazanye is a maths and science teacher at Mukosa School. The school was only established in 2019 and has 110 students age 14 to 18. The HALO team helped install a borehole, which then became the water source for moulding the bricks to build the school. Ms Marazanye says The Minefield book has educated both herself and the children on the landmine danger, as well as being an invaluable teaching resource.
“I have learnt a lot about the minefield and the students have learnt a lot about the minefield..,what we should do so that we do not get hurt by the landmines. Even their English is improving.”
To date, HALO has cleared over 8 million square metres of minefield in Rushinga district (an area two and half times the size of Central Park, New York). Our teams of local staff continue to work to make their country safe so no child has to walk to school through a minefield.
This project is made possible thanks to funding from:
The Government of the United States