Meet The Women Making Lives Safe And Improving Livelihoods In Lebanon

“The needs of daily life have pushed me to work ever since I was a child,” says 23-year-old Khadija, as she prepares to begin a day’s work searching for landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive items in Lebanon.

“My parents were shepherds and they used to sell milk and yoghurt to make ends meet. I used to carry the containers over long distances to sell them and return back home with a small amount of money that was barely enough to feed the 13 children in our family.

MAG's new female team in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

MAG's new female team is making land safe for 4,500 people in the Bekaa Valley region, including around 3,000 Syrian refugees.

Photo: MAG Lebanon

“When I reached the age of 12, I had to find a job, just like all my brothers and sisters, so that my parents could afford to keep me in high school,” Khadija continues, with courage in her eyes. “I grew up and got married, and I’m still fighting to make ends meet.

“I applied for this job last month [April 2016] when I saw the announcement, and today I am a female searcher at MAG.”

Khadija is one of 20 new MAG Lebanon bomb searchers.

Khadija is one of 20 new bomb searchers.

Photo: MAG Lebanon

Khadija is one of 20 women who have recently joined MAG in southern Lebanon after successfully completing a rigorous training programme.

The team is based in the Bekaa Valley region, which is heavily contaminated by cluster munitions and landmines, and is making 30,000 square metres of land safe for local communities – including the large concentration of Syrian refugees currently living perilously close to mined areas. 

In total, 4,500 people will directly benefit from the team’s efforts, which will mean much-needed agricultural land can be used in safety, enabling farming and struggling communities to improve their financial wellbeing.

Fatima is university educated. Mother to four-year-old triplets, all boys, and one-year-old twins, both girls, she too was motivated to apply for the job due to her difficult financial situation.

Wearing the heavyweight clothing and helmet that are together known as PPE (‘personal protective equipment’) she says with conviction, “When you are a mother, you are forced to fight in all ways. Neither the danger, hot summer or cold winter will put me off.”

Mofida’s story is different; a Business Marketing graduate who worked for many years as a photographer, she was seeking new challenges and opportunities. Batoul’s husband lost his job and is now working in a flower shop, meaning she needed to find work for the additional income.

After Ola got divorced, she needed to earn more money than was possible in her previous position as a physical therapist: “My job is a passion, I want to send out a humanitarian message,” she says. “And I’m able to do physical therapy for free now, especially for people who can’t afford it.”

All the new team members have different stories, but all are working towards the humanitarian goal of saving lives and improving livelihoods in Lebanon.

By Mariam Gharib (Community Liaison Reporting Officer, MAG Lebanon) and Mike Fryer (Communications Coordinator, MAG)


 MAG in Lebanon: Why we're there & What we do

 Case study: Puppets and Clowns in Lebanon


• This team is being funded by   OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).

Page published: 13 May 2016