Mine Action Angola – Diu Luciano
Village Chief of Camatende Village, Malanje
The landmines have always prevented our freedom of movement. From the last house in the village, you can see the sign that shows where the landmines begin, only about 30 meters away. That is prime land for growing crops. But during the war, this village was taken over as a military encampment for civil defense. The landmines were laid to protect it and many enemy fighters died in those fields. But when the war finished, the landmines were left there. The soldiers who laid them were long gone so no one knew where they were. We were stuck with them.
Avoiding that land has caused us serious hardship. We had to work land that is much further away from us and from water. This forces us to work longer and harder, so we need more food and the children to help us in the fields and not go to school. It was a vicious circle.
We requested someone to come and help us a long time ago, but because of the effects of war the Angolan infrastructure and economy was not in good shape so we have had to wait. Then NPA and APOPO arrived and began to search the area for landmines. They used men with metal detectors and rats. We thought they were joking about the rats, but they showed us them searching for landmines. We got serious very quickly when they found an old bomb! In fact NPA and APOPO found quite a few landmines and other explosives, and then they declared the land safe. We went straight on to the land and began planting. Our lives have finally began again.