A letter from… Dirico, Angola
Marijn Goud meets heroes in Dirico, Angola
Today was a slightly different day. I was flying for the Halo Trust charity, which organises the removal of landmines and debris that is left behind by war. I flew to an active minefield in Dirico – a town in the far south of Angola, on the fringes of the Namibian border. As well as flying personnel, we were on standby for medical evacuations, should an active mine be unsafely detonated.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has been flying with Halo in Angola for 25 years, transporting brave men and women who continue vast demining projects across the country. Some 100,000 mines have been removed since 1994, when the country was in the full grips of civil war. Since then, thousands of lives have been saved and safe land has allowed life to spring up everywhere. The mines removed in Huambo for example – once a rural village made famous by Princess Diana’s visit in 1997 – is now a thriving city. But there is still so much work to be done, and MAF continues to provide flights to remote regions, enabling Halo to clear landmines in some of the most isolated territories. It’s a privilege to be part of this work, flying passengers who will bring about lasting change.
I was able to meet some known and unknown heroes. Yolanda and Elisa (pictured with Prince Harry) spend their days on their knees in the sand so that rural folk can live in safety and kids can walk to school. They are part of the ‘100 Women in Demining’ initiative, set up by Halo to empower Angolan women and give them employment, skills and purpose. Over the last few years, more than 78 women from vulnerable communities have been recruited, 80% of them single mothers. Six have been promoted to leadership and 19 have completed paramedic training…
Marijn Goud is a pilot for the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). To find out more about MAF’s work, visit www.maf-uk.org
This is an extract from an article that was published in the November 2019 edition of Reform