Myanmar: A childhood dream shattered by a landmine

La San dreamed of getting a proper education and moving up in life. But the more immediate aim was to take the exams and then go for a trip. "I wanted to visit my relatives in China," says La San. So, to earn some money, the youngster went foraging the mountains to collect some bamboo shoots. "I wanted to save up money for the trip," he says. But one wrong step changed everything.

I had never heard of anyone stepping on a landmine. I was the first one in my village.

La San goes over his memories from that devastating day in February 2017. He was on his way home after collecting bamboo shoots when he accidentally stepped on a mine. He lost a limb and his dreams in that accident. "I could not think about the future at all," he says.

He didn't continue in despair for too long. In May 2018, La San received a prosthetic limb from the Myitkyina Physical Rehabilitation Centre and started back on the road to building new dreams. "It's been nearly a year but I'm still trying to get used to walking with the prosthesis," he says. But he's not going easy on himself. Instead, he is trying to be independent and even earning his own livelihood.

Trying to put the pieces of his life back again, this hard-working young boy is learning the skill of carpentry. "I accompany experienced carpenters in my village, helping them and also learning from them at the same time," says La San. Right now, he is investing whatever time he gets in renovating his own home.

I'm giving up my goals so that my brother can achieve his.

The third of four brothers, La San is now pinning his hopes on his younger sibling. He is focused on saving money so that his brother can get a proper education and succeed in life, achieving what he himself could not.