Reem (28) works as a deminer for NPA. For the past months she has been working with search and clearance of buildings after the Islamic State in al-Kalah, Iraq.
Can you please tell us your name, age and where you’re from?
I’m Reem, 28 years old, I live in Ana [a town in western Anbar].
How long have you been working for NPA?
By February I will have completed my first year with NPA.
How did you find out about this job?
I left my résumé at NPA’s office in Ana.
Do you mostly clear houses or do you also work on open minefields?
I usually work in houses but I also did minefield clearance. I recently moved to this team to clear houses in Rawa [a town in western Anbar].
Can you explain the steps for clearing houses?
First, the team leader guides us to gather enough information about the house to start the clearance process. The team leader also secures an initial line to walk inside the house. We then use metal object detectors and a lamp because the houses can be quite dark. If we detect explosive devices or crush wires [a type of detonation mechanism] the team will immediately remove them.
Do you like this type of job?
My husband was working a few years ago with another mine action organisation, so when he heard about this job he advised me to apply and join NPA. I love working here so much because of NPA’s environment, my team is always very helpful.
Are you ever scared during your work?
When I first began working with NPA I was really scared, but because of the support of team leaders and the experience I gained, I overcame this fear. There's no work in the world that's free of challenges, especially in mine clearance.
What makes you continue with this work?
I’m a mother and I have children to take care of. It's natural to fear for their lives. It's hard to see my children can't play outside because of the mines planted randomly by ISIS. So many people and children died while playing outside or while swimming in the river in Ana due to the mines and other explosives.
I love my work very much because it's humanitarian work. When we clear a house or a piece of land, it means I've secured the lives of my children and the lives of many others, now and from future generations, that's why I keep working with NPA.
Are there any mines in your village or near your house?
In Ana there are still a lot of mines.
Do you know anyone who got injured or died due to the mines?
There are a lot of accidents in the area where I live. For example, one of my relatives who owned land in Ana died of mines, that was before NPA started clearing his land. Another accident also involved a relative, he was taking care of his sheep when a mine exploded and killed him.
How do you feel when you clear someone’s house?
I feel happy, there's no safe place like home. Removing the mines from an area will make many families feel more secure. They will get their homes back and will be able again to do their normal activities.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I’m so grateful for NPA's work, not only because it's our source of income, but it's such important humanitarian work. Since the conflict there are so many families in Iraq who need clearance of their homes and lands, there's no comparison between living in safety or in a place still contaminated with mines.