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Inside Angola's demining training grounds

Inside the landmine training grounds where recruits are saving lives

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James Martin
Angola minefield the Halo Trust
1 of 19 James Martin/CNET

In a hot, dry field on the outskirts of Huambo, Angola, women are learning the dangerous job of removing land mines. 

This training facility is part of the Halo Trust's "100 Women in Demining" program, which aims to boost mine clearance while adding female deminers, medics, drivers and mechanics in Angola. 

Angola minefield The HALO Trust
2 of 19 James Martin/CNET

Although this is a mock minefield used purely for training, everything here is treated as if it were real. 

All rules are followed by the book. Safety gear is worn at all times. 

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
3 of 19 James Martin/CNET

The training camp's facilities include canvas tents for sleeping, a common area, a kitchen and storage units made from shipping containers.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
4 of 19 James Martin/CNET

Demining is tedious and meticulous work -- often in thick brush -- as workers slowly scrape away the soil, centimeter by centimeter. 

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
5 of 19 James Martin/CNET

Deminers must first clear away any brush before they can even begin to use their metal detectors, which must be as close as possible to the ground. 

Angola minefield The HALO Trust
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Ralph Legg, a location manager of the Halo Trust, goes through proper demining technique with a new trainee. 

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A trainee works under the hot sun in Huambo, Angola.

Angola minefield The Halo Trust
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A trainee calibrates her solar-powered metal detector. 

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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A young trainee follows the same rigorous procedures she would use in a real minefield. 

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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Metal detectors require frequent calibration.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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Following meter-wide lanes, deminers move forward a few inches at a time, scanning the ground with metal detectors as they go.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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It's safer to excavate mines from the side, where there's less risk of detonation.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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Workers get a 10 minute break every half hour.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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An estimated 1 million land mines were buried during Angola's 27-year civil war.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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Clearing mines is a painstakingly low-tech affair. The tools include a metal detector, a weed wacker and a meter-long stick.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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A trainee marks out a new line to follow. Red-tipped sticks stake out a boundary between safe ground and live mines.  

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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Another trainee measures a lane to be cleared.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
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To make sure deminers stay safe, the Halo Trust continually reinforces strict procedures and protocols so that trainees never lose sight of proper technique.

Angola minefield the Halo Trust
19 of 19 James Martin/CNET

After completing the monthlong training course, the women must pass a written exam and a field test before they can officially become deminers.

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