A Nonprofit’s Courageous Efforts Eliminates Hidden Threats, Protects Lives

Published online: Mar 05, 2024 Video
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We came across this video from John Deere showing the work being done to clear landmines from farmer’s fields in Ukraine. It is definitely worth sharing.

The pictures from the war in Ukraine often show the destruction caused by Russian weapons flying overhead. Missiles and drones have not only devastated cities of all sizes, but also countless lives.

Yet, the larger battle – one that unfolds on the ground, inch by inch – involves finding and safely detonating millions (yes, millions) of land mines placed during the war, giving Ukraine the unimagined distinction of being the most mined country in history.

Demining Efforts In Ukraine

Leading the efforts to clear Ukraine of land mines is The HALO Trust, a non-profit organization that has been doing this work since 1988 and employs over 12,000 deminers in 30 countries and territories. John Deere has supported HALO with $800,000 in unrestricted grants.

“The most important thing for us in evaluating our grant with The HALO Trust was that we learned that at its core, The HALO Trust is an organization that supports farmers,” said Nate Clark, global director of corporate social responsibility and president of the John Deere Foundation. “As we’ve learned from HALO, many times in conflict mines and explosives are placed in wide open areas. Those are the same areas where farmers grow their food, where they make a living, and where they help end hunger.”

The HALO Trust gained international attention when Princess Diana visited one of HALO’s minefields in Angola in 1997. This led to the formation of the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty, calling for a global effort to rid the world of land mines, although Russia did not recognize the treaty.

Diana Tatili, head of development and communications at The HALO Trust, said, “Because of the scope, because of the sheer amount and types of mines placed, we have to first complete the reconnaissance, or mapping, process so we can understand the level of contamination.”

Tatili also explained that the Ukrainian government and HALO have prioritized demining farmland, aiming to clear anti-personnel mines effectively and methodically, as there are over 67,000 square miles of mined, unusable arable land in Ukraine. This is roughly equivalent to the size of Florida.

Empowering Local Communities

Currently, HALO has around 1,000 deminers in Ukraine, with 97 percent of HALO’s workforce being local Ukrainian citizens. Tatili emphasized that HALO's impact in Ukraine lies in its commitment to community empowerment, providing opportunities for local people, especially women, to contribute to the cause and build futures.

“It’s important to us to employ people – often women – who are not part of the war effort so they are looking for a way to contribute to the cause,” Tatili said. “And I have to tell you … this is a point of pride for them. This is a duty that they feel that they can do. And in a way, this is who represents HALO. And we are just giving them the ability to be able to accomplish this mission.”