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In Colombia, Women Are Cleaning Up The Remnants Of Its Bloody War

In Colombia, women were directly impacted by the more than half a century-long bloody war between the military and the guerrilla rebel group, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo (FARC). Their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers were killed. They were often subject to sexual violence, including rape and forced abortions. Today, three years after a peace pact was made between both armies, the women are now cleaning up the conflict’s deadly remnants.

In war zones throughout the South American country there are leftover explosives. Guerrillas planted landmines in towns, by schools and homes, as well as fincas years ago, prepared to ambush their enemies when they needed to. While the land is no longer occupied, many still fear walking through affected areas, knowing the risk they take stepping on a mine and detonating a bomb that could take off their leg.

Humanity & Inclusion (HI), an internationally funded humanitarian aid organization, is working to remove these mines — and it’s largely powered by women. In fact, 40 percent of the group is women and some, like Erika Romero, also lead teams.

“In the armed conflict, the mines were the most effective mechanism to do damage. Mines don’t discriminate,” Romero, HI’s base manager in Caquetá, told Teen Vogue. “Mines aren’t going to just target people in the military. The mines are going to take down civilians, the most vulnerable population. They’ve taken down children, animals, mothers, farmers.”

From 1990 to 2017, more than 11,000 people were killed or injured by mines and explosive, like grenades, mortars or bombs, that remained after the war.

This makes the women’s work essential. Before they started, 31 of 32 of Colombia’s departments were sullied with mines. That’s down by three. It might not seem like a lot, but the work is dangerous, making it meticulous and time-consuming.

Still, it’s labor that excites Marifer Culman Ortiz. The 19-year-old wakes up each morning, puts on her shatter-proof mask and anti-explosive gear, and begins her day in the minefield, moving away scrubs in the jungle and hovering her metal detector over the ground until she hears a long beep.

“It’s a very beautiful kind of work,” Culman Ortiz told the magazine. “That is, you have to go out to these areas and free them from many dangers like mines. Then people can pass through these pathways without fear that they’re going to step on the ground and lose their leg.”

Without women, this crucial work couldn’t get done. In the rural communities largely impacted by the war, there’s still a distrust of outsiders. This complicates the work of deminers, who often count on locals to identify areas where mines might have been planted. Those from the area are more comfortable speaking with familiar faces, who tend to be young women eager to rebuild their communities.

“Families are not going to trust people they practically don’t know and give this information because they could say ‘No, it could put my family at risk,’” Andrea Trujillo Ramirez, one of the women who works with the organization in the community she grew up in, said. “When we [women] go there, they almost always give us the information because they aren’t scared of us.”

Trujillo Ramirez was raised in a farmhouse near an encampment-turned-demining locale. Her childhood was plagued by war. She remembers hiding in bathrooms and under beds to protect herself from bullets as well as her mother pulling her out of school so she wouldn’t be hit during an unexpected, but common, shoot-out. She knows the pain of losing an uncle to a land mine and a brother, a member of FARC, to a clash with the military.

“The importance of this work is that I don’t want my family to have this experience of pain that I have had to live,” Trujillo Ramirez, who has a 7-year-old daughter, said.

While the Colombian government and the rebel group signed a peace pact in 2016, many fear that new conflict may soon arise. The government, which promised reparations for victims, reintegration of former combatants into society and developing the country’s destitute and rural areas, haven’t carried their vows through. Most recently, Colombian President Ivan Duque, who was elected last year, has questioned the accords altogether.

Former FARC rebels, upset by the unfulfilled pledges, have returned to war zone areas, carrying guns and sparking fear into many community members who are familiar with what a war-torn Colombia looks like.

This puts the women’s work at risk. They now face being at the center of violence themselves for attempting to detonate the remnants of yesterday’s brutality — a danger that could potentially put an end to their demining efforts.

“There would not be guarantees that we wouldn’t be forced out,” Romero said. “We could be at risk for the work we do with the communities so we would have to stop.”

For now, the women continue cleaning and hoping for a safer time ahead.

Read: This Queer Colombian Muralist Is Changing The World One Wall At A Time

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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Women Are Sharing Their Most Brutal Pregnancy Symptoms

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Women Are Sharing Their Most Brutal Pregnancy Symptoms

Pregnancy really does require a strong stomach.

Women in their first trimester of pregnancy experience extreme hormonal changes that can lead to some pretty bizarre symptoms. From extreme cravings, even for non-food items such as pica, to a heightened sense of smell, it often seems like a pregnant woman could be experiencing an actual possession.

Women on Reddit are sharing the most bizarre symptoms they wish people had given them a heads up about before they got pregnant.

Check them out below!

“Nosebleeds. Not currently pregnant, but when I was, I got nosebleeds every few days during the first and second trimesters.”- creativeandwonderful

“From my mom: I paralyzed her from the waist down for a few hours because I decided to take a nap on her spinal cord in the third trimester. The doctor’s response was ‘yeah you’ll be able to move again once they wake up.’ Pregnancy is pure body horror.”- AbsolXGuardian

That is awful. I’m glad it wasn’t permanent. I knew a mom of twins who had one of them move and dislocated some of her ribs. Just…holy cow. It’s scary to think about all the damage that tiny little being can do while inside you, not to mention when coming out. Then many years of them beating you up and wearing your body down. Thank goodness for those hormones that help you believe it’s all worth it.”- TCMueller

“This is mostly a 3rd trimester thing, but that when you are active and moving, it kinda rocks the baby to sleep.

But as soon as you lay down to go to sleep, baby wakes up and starts kicking and spinning.

Might not be super common (?), but I knew a lot of other mothers who complained about this, too.”- GingerMau

“Not a woman, but i wish i knew the warning signs of preeclampsia, Girlfriend was 7 months pregnant at the time, and had been complaining of generally not feeling good with a constant headache that would occasionally break for a bit, i came home from work(i work overnights) to her sleeping on the floor and i eventually got to bed but i woke up 3 hours later to hear a thud and she was having a seizure, turns out she went eclamptic, she ended up having a c section, daughter was in the nicu for a bit but both are doing great now. What really put things into how close my girlfriend was to dying was the doctors and nurses saying how few people they’ve seen go eclamptic and one of the nurses said shes only seen 3 cases in like 10 years and 2 of them died.”- LeButtSmasher

“How hungry you can be. All. The. Time. Especially twins.

Then how hungry you still are after baby comes.

Then his hungry you are while breast feeding.

And sometimes the weight doesnt go away. At least the kids dont care.”- kleigh1313

“I wish someone would have warned me about the constipation. Corollary: I wish someone would have warned me that ‘fiber supplement’ does not equal ‘stool softener.’ Today, we’re at 26 weeks gestation.”- InfernalWedgie

“Related– I did have a couple of friends warn me about constipation, but no one told me I would be as thirsty as I have been! I get constipated after any day where I didn’t drink a huge glass of water every single time I felt thirsty… but I’ve been constantly insanely thirsty since probably month 2. I’m drinking something like 8-10 12 oz glasses of water a day. And no, turns out it isn’t gestational diabetes… just pregnancy.

And lol, agreed on the fiber supplement– I’d say it was more of a gas multiplier than helpful. Real food fiber did better on that front (oatmeal, pears, prunes, sweet-potatoes. heck, even beans were better than the fiber supplement for me).”- badgersonice

“Your body produces a hormone called relaxin that helps loosen your pelvis in preparation for birth. Some women get waayyy too much too soon and it loosens everything to the point you lose mobility and every day all day is painful. Also your body pushes so hard during birth you can feel yourself shit your own asshole out.”- Jen_Itals

“During labor the “water breaking” is not one rush of liquid. it’s continuous and can occur for several hours. it’s horrendous and messy and incredibly awful to deal with. it feels like peeing but you have zero control over anything and if you tense up then everything is much more painful and weird feeling.

nobody ever told me that and i was VERY surprised to find out for myself.”-notgrass87

“YUP. Went to the hospital at 4CM, water broke the second I got into triage. Water continued to POUR out with every contraction until I laid down. An hour later, they decide to take me to L&D, I stand up, bam pouring buckets. Get to L&D, another big contraction and water pours out of me all over my poor nurses shoes. My god, I did not know my body could have that much liquid in it. It was insane. I was so embarrassed and kept saying sorry lol.”- The-Chonky-one

“To quote a doctor friend of mine: People don’t realize that it’s the worst day of their life for them, but for me it’s Tuesday. Stop worrying about embarrassing yourself.”- Klaus_Goldfish

“I had adult diapers given to me by my SIL (she had some unused ones left from her pregnancies). They are INCREDIBLY useful for if your water breaks, and after you give birth and there is blood, so much blood.”- CypripediumGuttatum

“I didn’t measure, but I’ve heard people describe it as 9 months of periods saved up and thought that was pretty accurate. I was more concerned by my 2nd degree tearing to be worried about the blood. They said if there were “clots” that was what to look out for (so if your placenta hadn’t all come out and could potentially rot inside you basically). There is no glamor and not much dignity in giving birth and the recovery. Good thing the babies are cute! 10/10 happy I did it once and would never do it again, props to the ladies that go for round 2+.”- CypripediumGuttatum

“Hair loss! After I had my kid I lost a ton of hair. I would pull fists full of hair during my showers. I thought there was something wrong with me because no one told me about this. Went to Google, totally normal and it happens to everyone. It grows back eventually and you’ll go through an awkward baby hair phase.”- sm1020

“Aahh something I actually know the science behind! So apparently when you’re pregnant, your head holds on to almost all of those dead hairs that your scalp would normally just get rid of everyday. We all lose some hair, but most of the time we don’t realize how much we lose, especially if you’re blessed with thick hair. So when you’re pregnant and your body is worrying about keeping baby safe and growing, it basically stops shedding dead hair, and then sheds it ALL AT ONCE right after baby is born. So you’re not actually losing more hair than normal, you’re just losing all of those dead hairs that you would have lost anyway over the course of your pregnancy. It takes some time to see that your hair is back to normal because your head is now growing all of those hairs back at once, but when all is said and done your hair isn’t any thinner than it was before baby! My hair stylist told me this when I started freaking out about my pregnancy and body changes. She saved a panic attack that day.”- aep17

“Tore up from the floor up” lololol. I’m 5 weeks postpartum and had my OB take a look today for any remaining stitches from my second degree tear. I tore alllll the way and I swore I could still feel some. She said that they were all gone, but then I went home and found a whole ass suture on my toilet paper. Took my first look down there and it looks like I was stitched up by Frankenstein. My taint straight up has a seam now.”- edgeofdoom

“My god, the pooping. I now I have a three month old, and while I can’t remember my first poop after delivery, I vividly remember crying on the toilet not being able to poop. And nobody warns you about the hemorrhoids. Mine were so big I couldn’t sit for two weeks, and poops came out in little nuggets. Sometimes I actually had to scoop it out. Going to the bathroom became an event. My husband said the sounds I made trying to poop were worse than what I did during labor.”- toot_toot_tootsie

“I had a total meltdown in the hospital because my entire extended family was on the phone with my mom asking to come over to visit. “They just want to see you because they love you!” Um, no they want to see a cute new baby while I’m still bleeding heavily and have to use a squirt bottle after I pee, so… no.”- killergiraffe

“This times 1,000. Mine was fine, but I follow a woman on Instagram who lost her daughter full term because the doctor didn’t induce. She had signs of cholestasis and wasn’t diagnosed for awhile, then went to the hospital for lessening movements, failed a NST and then HE SENT HER HOME.

Every time I read her story I am angry on her behalf. I know she’s said she felt uneasy, and the way doctors dismiss our concerns in general let alone while pregnant, I imagine she ignored her feelings because she trusted the doctor and didn’t want to be pushy. I’m a loud mouthed person and I still failed to assert my needs during my last pregnancy. I’m pro-medicine but people need to understand that there is a valid reason that people mistrust doctors. Please anybody reading this – advocate for yourself!!! Trust in modern medicine but if your instincts are telling you something is wrong, trust them.”- thatcondowasmylife

“L&D nurse here, and I just wanna say that while you can pass blood clots as big as a tennis ball, it’s not “normal.” We tell our patients if they pass blood clots bigger than an egg, they need to let their nurse or OB doctor know! Big clots like that can cause a patient to have a hemorrhage, and patients don’t realize this, but you can hemorrhage up to like 6 weeks postpartum! Also, if you’re bleeding heavily enough to have to change your pad hourly or more, please call your doctor. Your nurse will probably do a fundal massage a million times before you get discharged, and I always encourage my patients to learn how to do it because it helps ensure the uterus is doing what it should do!”- little_ginger1216

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