Mayom Aguek Kochi spent more than two decades as a captain with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

From 1983 until 2005, the SPLA fought a bitter civil war with the government of Sudan. South Sudan's eventual independence was the result of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed almost exactly fifteen years ago. 

But the war left the country littered with landmines. 

Following the conflict, Mayom found himself working with South Sudan's National Mine Action Authority (NMAA). As the world's newest country, and one scarred by war, the NMAA did not have the resources it needed to keep pace with the demands of clearing up the deadly remnants of conflict.

Mayom's involvement in the civil war had, like many of his friends and peers, robbed him of the opportunity to study. It limited his ability to do his job. 

Mayom (left) with a member of MAG South Sudan team

With the help of funding from British taxpayers, MAG is working in South Sudan to help share our expertise and train national staff to clear landmines as safely and effectively as possible. 

Aged 55, Mayom started working with MAG in August 2018 and completed his training just over a year later in December 2019. 

By spending time with MAG, Mayom hoped to improve his practical skills and embraced the opportunity for first-hand experience clearing landmines and the other deadly explosives left behind by war.

"Before I started capacity building with MAG, I had a very low understanding of my roles... but now I feel empowered to do my job effectively."

For Mayom, working alongside MAG helped him feel more accomplished and better able to do his job – saving lives and building better lives for the communities still recovering from the civil war.

Practically-speaking, Mayom also learned how to be effective at using mechanical landmine clearance techniques, the intricacies of clearing former battlegrounds and safely destroying dangerous and explosive items. He also learned fundamental first-aid and GPS skills that will prove integral to his role. 

And the impact of this learning will reach even further: “I will also share the acquired knowledge with my colleagues who did not get the chance,” Mayom said.

For Mayom and many others like him, MAG's support is vital. Bolstering the strength of the national authorities and their staff helps South Sudanese people to better support each other and, ultimately, helps to save more lives.

MAG's humanitarian work in South Sudan is made possible by the generous support of the British people.