Altair Guimarães

Clearing Colombia's Landmines

She was about 7 years old when the FARC rebels were most present. They would tell her and her friends to stay away from playing in certain areas. “'If you do come this way, you risk losing a little leg,'” they would tell her. When the FARC attempted recruiting Noralba as a 13-year-old, her grandmother acted quickly and sent her to Cartagena, where her father and sisters lived.

Now an adult, she has returned to her hometown, where she performs the brave work of clearing the minefields she was warned about as a child. She fills with pride whenever a colleague reports the finding and removal of a device because it means there will be one less injury caused by a landmine explosion.

“So many innocent people died,” she says while reflecting on a lifetime full of violence. Noralba knows many families don’t know too many details about the war but it has been a very personal experience for them regardless. “They do know the horror it has caused among the families in their own communities,” she says.

She’s hopeful about the peace treaty and the reintegration of Colombia as a unified society. 

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Background image: Feryal Aldahash looks down on her third daughter Valgerour Halla at their home in Reykjavik, Iceland. January 8 2017. | Thomson Reuters Foundation/Filippo Brachetti