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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
4 April 2024

Breaking barriers: from banker to deminer

Breaking barriers: from banker to deminer 01
© Danish Church Aid, 2024 (Photographer: Rasmus Emil Gravesen)

Formerly employed in a bank for five years, 27-year-old Diana changed her life and focused on her passion of making a difference in her hometown, Mykolaiv, Ukraine. Since October 2023, Diana has been working as a deminer for Danish Church Aid (DCA), specialising in non-technical surveys (NTS). Her team, which operates with the financial support of the European Union Humanitarian Aid, focuses on investigating areas suspected of containing unexploded ordnance, which can range from mines and grenades to cluster bombs — a job that many might consider dangerous. However, Diana believes that the rewards are worth the risk.

“I’m not afraid. On the contrary, I really enjoy my work. I am confident in myself and my team. We were all thoroughly trained in safety rules, which is paramount. So no, I’m not afraid. I find this work interesting; it is very satisfying to do,” Diana confidently expresses, dispelling concerns about the dangers associated with her occupation.

Breaking barriers: from banker to deminer 02
Despite the surrounding scepticism about her life-changing decision to become a deminer, Diana strongly believes that her work can make a difference
© Danish Church Aid, 2024 (Photographer: Rasmus Emil Gravesen)

Diana’s decision to join the demining efforts has been met with scepticism, particularly from her family, who questioned whether such a role should be reserved for men. However, Diana staunchly disagrees, asserting that in challenging times like these, everyone, irrespective of gender, should contribute to the well-being of their community.

‘I believe that in these challenging times for our country, anyone who wants to and has the right enthusiasm for it should work, regardless of whether they are male or female. The main thing is to perform your job well,’ – says Diana.

Diana’s dedication goes beyond breaking gender norms; it is deeply rooted in her desire to assist ordinary people affected by the war. As a team member of the EU-funded demining programme, she identifies potential dangers and provides crucial information to Ukrainian authorities responsible for the safe removal or disposal of explosive objects.

Breaking barriers: from banker to deminer 03
For Ukraine, which is now considered one of the most mine-contaminated countries in the world, Diana's work plays a crucial role.
© Danish Church Aid, 2024 (Photographer: Rasmus Emil Gravesen)

“We help ordinary people with demining, which is required by the war. I want to be useful in participating in this important work,” Diana states, highlighting the significance of her contribution to the safety of her community.

In Diana’s words, “The work itself is not scary. When I worked in a bank, it was very stressful, but I really like working for DCA. The difference is like night and day compared to working in the bank, which is why I love my current job. It makes me happy. I will continue to work in this field as long as there is a humanitarian organisation in our country where I can helpful.”

As Diana continues to play an integral role in the demining efforts, she serves as an inspiration for women across Mykolaiv, proving that dedication, skill, and a commitment to community well-being can empower individuals to thrive in any field, regardless of societal expectations.

  • Story by Rasmus Emil Gravesen

    Story by Rasmus Emil Gravesen, Danish Church Aid, Ukraine.

    Publication date: 04/04/2024