An unusual passenger…

Because my original job – to set up a new location further up North – has not materialised….yet (we are playing the age old charity game of waiting for money from funders)…I have been moved on to survey.

 

Basically mapping any minefields which have not yet been identified and surveyed.

 

Quite often I get asked – “but are there still landmines in Mozambique?” The short answer is YES! And sadly, plenty of them.

 

 

posing-with-our-stash2

 

 

A huge survey has already been done so we know the extent of the problem but occasionally when we open up a new minefield task in a community, they see our deminers and hear us destroying the mines we have found.

 

We get approached by the village leader who tells us about a family who found a hand grenade in their back yard after the fighting stopped or an area of land which locals still fear.

 

 

Madomal quizzing local informants

 

Our job is to follow up these leads and map the minefield so we can go back once we have extra manpower and clear the area of mines.

 

So a couple of weeks ago, we set off on our first job…eventually!

 

There was much…we leave in 5 mins, one car won’t start so move all the kit to another, fill up with fuel, sign for kitty money, authorise kitty money, get kitty money from finance officer, where’s the driver gone, who has the car keys etc etc…

 

 

There was even new survey-hat buying to be done (and my word…what a hat!)

 

 

georges-new-survey-hat

 

But we eventually hit the road.

 

These are my survey ‘dons’…

 

Mr Boss – the most persistent and leader of the pack, last seen speaking with 3 local village chiefs in his bare feet (he forgot his boots and it was too muddy for shoes!)

 

too muddy for shoes

 

Mr Comedian – never without a smile on his face but excellent at gleaning information from reluctant officials with good humour

 

Mr Strong & Silent – the quietest of the bunch but for sure tough as anything and an experienced survey officer

 

Each of them choose a paramedic trained deminer and a driver to make up their 3 man teams.

 

the-3-amigos

 

Our job consists of explaining ourselves to local Government officials then finding and speaking – at length! – with local informants, this might be the village chief, an ex-combatant or an old boy who has lived in the area for pretty much ever!

 

And boy, do you meet some characters!

 

I take my landrover too so I can move between the teams while they work. At one point I had an old old village chief straight out the fields still with hoe in hand sitting in the front of my car in his bare feet with 2 of my survey boys in the back quizzing him – one translating from local language to Portuguese while the other translated from Portuguese to English!

 

Goodness knows how much we lost in translation!!

 

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