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Republic of Congo: Life-changing messages

Source: MAG (Mines Advisory Group) - Wed, 13 Feb 2013 09:41 GMT
Author: Marysia Zapasnik, MAG (Mines Advisory Group)
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When local people are too busy with their daily toils to attend potentially life-saving Mine Risk Education sessions, MAG Community Liaison teams have to make alternative plans.

In the Republic of Congo, Community Liaison Officers Michelle and Christian travelled to the local market in Djiri town, 20km from the capital of Brazzaville.

“People work in this market daily from 7am to 5pm, so if we want the safety message to reach the stall-holders, we have to come here to them,” explains Michelle.

She spent the whole morning walking from stall to stall, talking to a few women at a time. Among others, she spoke to Jeanne, who was selling chopped greens, Gudelle who was selling homemade peanut butter, and 70-year-old Henriette who was selling dried fish. They stopped serving customers for a few minutes and listened attentively.

At the other end of the market, Christian spoke to the men. Gullit, the mobile pedicurist, was cutting and filing the toenails of Dieumerci, a money changer. Christian showed them pictures of unexploded ordnance and explained about the dangers of touching such items.

Gael, the tailor, came over to see what the men were talking about. He remembered an accident in that very market a few years ago, when children found and played with an explosive remnant of war. Two of the youngsters died in the explosion and the third lost his arm.

“If I lose my arm,” explains Gael. “I cannot be a tailor any more. So recognising which items are dangerous is very important. If I cannot sew clothes, I will not be able to buy food for my family. Thank you for coming here to our market today.”

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