“There were so many landmines here,” explains Manuel Evaristo Cassanga, teacher and secretary at Luzi school, in Angola’s Moxico province.
The school was constructed on land cleared of mines and now provides education for hundreds of pupils from Luzi and surrounding villages.
“We are so thankful that the landmines have been cleared, and the school was built. Education is very important for the community and for the country. We can only rebuild our country through education.”
Moxico was the scene of intense fighting during the country’s 1975-2002 civil war. Fifteen years after the end of the conflict, the landmines and other deadly explosive items left behind mean that communities are still living in fear of death and injury.
“You can’t stop now,” says Manuel. “This area has been cleared, lives have been saved and people have a future, but there are other areas and other communities that need you.”
A country that has the highest under-five mortality rate in the world and is suffering from a debilitating economic crisis, Angola has a desperate need for safe and accessible land – to increase domestic food production, feed its own people and diversify its economy.