STORIES OF WOMEN UNDER THE SlovakAid BRAND: Gaiane Minasyan - SlovakAid


Gaiane Minasyan, like so many in Abkhazia, was no stranger to the dangers of unexploded ordnance (UXO) before joining the HALO Trust. A mother of two and former emergency room nurse, Gaiane remembers the day in August 2017 when an ammunition storehouse suffered an unplanned explosion on the Black Sea coast in the tranquil village of Primorsky, in the Gudauta region of Abkhazia. “Everyone could hear the explosion, no matter how far away. It shook the walls of my hospital many kilometres away, and all I could think about were the families living near to the blast. I had no idea that someday I would be working to help save lives and rebuild their community”.

Gaiane was recently recruited as a member of a SlovakAid-funded seven-person battle area clearance (BAC) team, tasked with clearing unexploded ordnance laying hidden in the landscape around the site of the unplanned explosion. An estimated 100,000 items of unexploded ordnance were kicked out by the explosion on 2nd August 2017; killing three people, damaging 122 homes, and contaminating nearly 4.5 million square meters of land used by locals for agriculture, animal husbandry, and tourism.

Thanks to the support of SlovakAid, Gaiane serves at the forefront of HALO’s life-saving efforts to return once hazardous land back to the people of Primorsky, helping the community’s resilience in the face of lost livelihoods and reduced human security resulting from the explosion. Gaiane is also a reminder of HALO’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in a region where traditional workplace gender roles remain entrenched. Gaiane is now one of 29 women working for HALO in Abkhazia, representing nearly 31% of the programme’s total workforce and holding leadership positions at both the operational and administrative levels.

Whilst her family worries about her safety, Gaiane says that the support she receives from her family, friends, and colleagues is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job. “My eldest daughter is always bragging to her friends about the work I do and it makes me so proud to see her admiration. When I put on the HALO uniform each day I feel I am an equal amongst my colleagues, both men and women. We are working to save lives and that brings us together”.

Photo: Gaine's BAC team conducting clearance in front of a local residence in Primorsky.

Photo: SlovakAid-funded BAC team leader inspecting a 100mm tank projectile discovered metres from a residence in Primorsky.