St Martin’s Primary School in Nyandoro Village, Zimbabwe, is full of energy with 140 students regularly attending classes given by five teachers.
But its position on the porous border with Mozambique means that the school has been witness to the wars which took place between the two countries throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, all the students live close to landmines and a quarter of them are forced to cross a minefield twice a day to get to and from school. Older students have to make sure their younger siblings do not stray from the path they believe is safe.
MAG is working in the areas removing the landmines but until the land is safe the children need to learn how to stay safe.
So, with funding from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), MAG’s team visited the school and provided the students and teachers with vital mine risk education.
The sessions provide potentially life-saving messages on how to identify and avoid mined areas. Specially designed to engage children, it gives them the knowledge they need to avoid and report danger until the surrounding area is cleared.
”These lessons help people to stay safe when they have no choice but to live and work around landmines left over from past conflicts,” says Adam Komorowski, MAG’s regional director. “It is crucial that people, especially children, are able to recognise, avoid and report threats to the local authorities.”
The funding from DFID has already had an extremely positive impact on the local community.
From March 2018, the number of pupils coming from surrounding villages has more than doubled.
The school’s headmaster Mr Munyoro attributed the increase to people knowing how to avoid dangerous areas as well as the reassurance that the landmines were also being cleared.
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has provided £46 million of new funding for landmine clearance that will benefit more than 800,000 people in conflict-ravaged countries around the world.
International humanitarian organisations MAG, The Halo Trust, Norwegians People's Aid and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining will work in partnership to deliver demining efforts, mine risk education and capacity development in nine countries.
As well as saving lives and fostering economic development, these projects will boost local employment, recruiting women and men from communities where job opportunities are limited.