Handler Usseni Ussi, with rat Garvey
April 4th marks International Day for Mine Awareness, and APOPO remains dedicated to our mission of seeing a mine-free world.
In 2011, APOPO’s Mozambique Mine Action team found and destroyed 792 landmines, 227 Explosive Remnants of War, 2,683 Small Arms and Ammunition, and released 2,632,608 m² of land in the Gaza Province.
But our work in Mozambique goes beyond these numbers. It is defined by our most valuable asset: the people who make up our incredible team.
Usseni Ussi, an inhabitant of Gaza, knows what it is like to live in fear of the explosive remnants of war that lie hidden in the earth.
“During the time I grew up, there was no demining activity at all. No one could use our land. We could not even walk freely. And the community was very static as a result. There was no growth,” he recalls.
In 2006, Ussi heard about APOPO’s demining work on the radio. When APOPO arrived in Gaza he went to the camp to see the rats he had heard about, and found employment with APOPO’s Mine Detection Rat team.
“I knew that the work would involve taking out landmines," he says. "And that was important to me.”
Now in his fifth year as a Mine Detection Rat handler, Ussi is proud of his work, proud of the rats, and proud of his place on APOPO’s team. “I believe in this approach because I can see it,” he says. “We can already see the benefits. Now, we have access to things we didn’t have access to. We can build. We can grow.”