Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bringing Peace to Sudan

Jamba Besta is a Sudanese woman who heads an all-female team of mine clearers in southern Sudan. While war in Sudan ended four years ago, there is still a lot of work needed to be done in order to clear the country of the remains of the war. Besta and her team are working with Norwegian People’s Aid in Bungu, where they are clearing an area to rebuild a school that was destroyed during the war.

They mark all unchecked areas with red tipped sticks to alert people of the danger. The de-mining process begins with pouring water over the dry ground so that unidentifiable objects can be investigated. Metal detectors are then used to see if there are any hazardous materials in the area. Only after a 45-minute shift of clearing will the safety line be moved forward to indicate a secure section.

There are people who do not feel that women should be clearing away mines. But, as one of the female team members, Tabu Monica Festo, says, "It's a job that is important to do - many people have died or had their legs shot off because of a mine" and these women are more than willing to do the job.

-- Jessica Milstead