For 32 years, MAG has been driven by our vision of a safe future for everyone affected by violence, conflict and insecurity. MAG is taking this week to thank our supporters for helping us to reach more than 20 million women, men, girls, and boys in 70 countries across the world. The story below is from 2017.

Bosnia and Herzegovina remains scarred by the conflict that took hold in the early 1990s. 

Slavko Puketa's ancestral home sits with a commanding view across a stunningly beautiful wooded valley. But this was once the front line in the Bosnian War.

The break-up of Yugoslavia led to the deadliest European conflict since the Second World War. 

An estimated 100,000 people were killed in the fighting while more than two million people were forced to flee their homes.

"Life was wonderful here before the war.’ Slavko explained. "My father worked for the railroad and my mother was a housewife. We didn’t need anything. We had a shop and plans for the future."

Slavko Puketa returns home after conflict

"The war changed everything and I left my village in 1992. The war was terrible and many of us suffered," he continued.

By the time the fighting stopped in 1995, landmines and unexploded bombs littered large areas of the country.

Slavko's hillside village of Pale-Prača, near Groražde, was situated between Bosnian and Serb front lines and was mined by both sides.

The deadly legacy prevented people from returning home and communities from rebuilding their lives. 

"People were injured here trying to come home - one was killed," Slavko says of the danger and the fear that has prevented so many of his neighbours from coming home.

MAG began working in Pale-Prača in 2017. The first landmine was discovered just 50 metres from a house. 

By the time MAG finished clearing the area in October 2017, 131 landmines and 18 unexploded bombs have been found and destroyed.

Landmines were even found in Slavko's small family graveyard

MAG teams cleared Slavko's land of 24 landmines - he was able to return home for the first time in decades. 

"Now, after 23 years, I can, at last, come home. I am so, so happy to be able to come back. I will slowly clean up and try to rebuild," Slavko explained. "I can now put candles on the graves of my mother and my brother. That means so much to me."

During clearance, two mines were found on the graves of his mother and brother in the graveyard by his old house.

As Slavko surveyed his land and the remains of his old house, he became very emotional and, with a big smile and tears in his eyes, described what it used to be like: "Now coming back it reminds me of being a kid."

"Even though it has changed, so much is still familiar and I have so many wonderful memories. This fir tree here was so small and we would play around it, and now it is a huge tree. When it was my birthday we would roast a lamb on the spit – there would be more than 30 of us! We would play football and play hide and seek in the forest. When I was older, we would drink and sing all night under the stars."

Slavko believes that now the land is clear, what was once a vibrant community will return and begin to rebuild their lives. 

"Many of the people from here went overseas after the fighting started but now MAG has cleared the mines I think many will come back. This is their home. It is amazing to come back here with no fear."