My first encounter with Danish Demining Group – DDG – was in Afghanistan. I was working for the humanitarian organisation DACAAR. And I was immediately fascinated. Men in heavy protection gear was thoroughly searching the ground with a knife in 40 degrees Celsius on mountain sides outside Kabul.
DDG is a Humanitarian Mine Action Unit in the Danish Refugee Council. DDG operates in some of the most fragile and conflict-affected places in the world. The focus is on those countries most affected by landmines and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), as well as the widespread proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
In 2016 I edited three films recorded in Afghanistan aimed to educate about the dangers of mines and ERW. It was short fiction films, the actors were from Assad Theater Production, and each film focused on a separate danger when living close to a potential mine field.
The films are shown in villages in the countryside of Afghanistan, and the idea is, that the audience will discuss the actions of the actors as the films progress. Therefore, there are pauses in the films and questions will appear on the screen.
Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of DDG Sri Lanka, a colleague and I produced a booklet telling their story. My role was photographer and designer.
It was a short but intense journey through the Tamil part of northern Sri Lanka, and we interviewed deminers, victims of the war as well as the people working to rebuild the country after the long civil war.
DDG Sri Lanka was the only demining organisation in the country using female deminers, something the organisation was very proud of. It had been a long process convincing village elders, that it was safe for the women to clear mines. An interesting example of humanitarian demining being more than just clearing mines.
The motto of DDG Sri Lanka was “Inch by inch – it’s all about the people”. And that became the title of the booklet as well.
Acknowledging that communities and individuals are affected by other threats to human security than landmines and unexploded ordnance, DDG also engage in AVR, armed violence reduction. DDG works with a range of AVR initiates, but a very concrete example is the gunlock, a safety lock that has to be unlocked before a weapon can be fired.
When designer Sylvia Holthen produced a safety lock specially designed for an AK-47 for DDG, she competed in the Core77 design awards, in the category Social Impact.
My humble role in the project was to take a photo of the lock.