On World Humanitarian Day, MAG is taking the opportunity to recognise the #RealLifeHeroes who risk their own lives to provide life-saving assistance to people around the world.
Today we're highlighting the work of just a handful of the 5,000 frontline staff that are the lifeblood of MAG. It's been a challenging time for humanitarians and the communities they serve in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, the unacceptable targeting of aid workers and the Beirut tragedy.
From working amidst the devastation of a developing crisis to working to prevent further tragedy, we want to share stories that demonstrate #RealLifeHeroes don't need capes, just the desire to make a difference where they can.
Hussein in Lebanon
Lebanon is still a country in mourning. The devastating blast in Beirut killed at least 178 people and injured more than 5,000 others.
All of MAG's staff were quickly and safely accounted for but on witnessing the aftermath they were keen to help however they could.
“With MAG, I am proud to be a medic, helping my colleagues to clear landmines and unexploded bombs. But when the Beirut explosion rocked our country, I knew I needed to go help," says MAG Medic Hussein Akaran.
The 26-year-old was among twenty of MAG's highly skilled medical staff who volunteered to support the emergency response, helping to care for survivors and provide support for those coping with the trauma.
"I volunteered at the scene; attending to the wounded. I saw so many injuries, to people’s heads, faces, legs and many of the injuries were from broken glass from the shattered windows of the buildings," he added.
Hussein has now returned to his life-saving day job, working with his MAG colleagues to clear landmines and unexploded bombs across Lebanon: "I am back working with my MAG colleagues now, but the people of Beirut remain in my thoughts."
Sisouphan in Laos
When Sisouphan Nunthavong started working with MAG six years ago, he was a technician in Laos. Now he leads a roving MAG team responsible for responding to community reports of deadly unexploded bombs. The bombs lay dormant across Laos, trapping families in fear and acting as a barrier to development.
Laos is the most bombed country in the world per capita, which makes the MAG team Sisouphan leads an emergency service of sorts. One working to prevent the kind of tragedy Sisouphan's family suffered. "My father lost his arm in an explosion and my grandmother died during the war. My family’s farm has a lot of bombies, we are scared but we don’t have a choice, we need to grow food," he recalls.
"When I dug the ground to plant crops I found a lot of bombs. My father asked me to move to another area. He doesn’t want anything to happen to me like it did to him."
Sisouphan's work is vital for the communities in which he works and for his family, "I am the oldest son in my family, I work hard to earn income to support my family and help my father."
"As a team leader, I have learnt a lot of new things. I am responsible for the safety and management of the team to ensure they are following the work plan and operating standards. I am very happy to work to make communities safe."
Ngoie in Angola
Ngoie Mulunda Grace has been working with MAG for almost a year and a half, first as a deminer and now as a site supervisor in Angola.
The country was ravaged by almost four decades of conflict, leaving behind an explosive endowment of landmines and unexploded bombs.
Ngoie is from Luena, in the Province of Moxico, one of the regions most heavily contaminated by this deadly legacy.
"I like this job - it's hard but it helps communities where landmines threaten people's lives on a daily basis, people just trying to feed their families," Ngoie explains.
But it's not just farming, Ngoie sees her role as protecting the future of Angola: "if a curious child touches these landmines, they will explode and that child might die. This is not good at all for Angola - the future of Angola tomorrow belongs to the children of today."
"I want to congratulate MAG's donors and encourage them to keep on supporting our work. With their support, we can continue to free the communities trapped in fear by landmines and unexploded bombs."
Ngoie Mulunda Grace
Last year, MAG found and destroyed more than 100,000 landmines and unexploded bombs, cleared and safely returned 76 million square metres of land and directly helped more than one million people across the world. This wouldn't have been possible without the vital efforts of our #RealLifeHeroes.
And our heroes can only continue saving lives and building safer futures for children across the world with the generous and continued support of donors.
"I want to congratulate MAG's donors and encourage them to keep on supporting our work," says Ngoie. "With their support, we can continue to free the communities trapped in fear by landmines and unexploded bombs."