Myanmar: Life disrupted by landmine injury, but dreams and will intact

Myanmar: Life disrupted by landmine injury, but dreams and will intact

Article 01 February 2023 Myanmar

It was a regular day for 20-year-old Aung Aung Oo. He woke up around 7am to the chirping of birds and grabbed a quick, early meal before going to work on the farm with his mother. Around 3pm, they headed back home. "I was a few yards ahead of my mom when I heard a deafening blast. Suddenly, I was on the ground," Aung recalls.

As soon as she heard the blast, Aung's mother ran to help him. "There was no one around to help us, so my mom carried me on her back and took me to the jetty near the village," he says. She took him to Paletwa Township Hospital and from there he was sent to Sittwe General Hospital for further treatment. Aung's right leg had to be amputated because of the injury.

The International Committee of the Red Cross's (ICRC's) team first met Aung in June 2022. "He was still traumatized by his experience. I talked to his mother and explained our services," shares Moe Moe Kyaw, who works with the ICRC's Physical Rehabilitation Programme in Sittwe. Aung started the physical rehabilitation process a few weeks later.

"I think it is going to take a while for me to fully recover. It will never be the same, but I will get used to it," he says matter-of-factly, looking down at his amputated leg. When asked about what he is going to do after rehabilitation, he makes plans: "I will continue to pursue my dreams. Even though I didn't finish college, I will do my best to learn English and get computer skills."

Aung knows that there will be challenges along his way, but he is certain that he will overcome them one step at a time. He shares that since his father passed away when he was a child, he and his mom had only each other to depend on and make the best out of life.

"I want to work at an office someday to support my mom and give her a break from the hard labour she has done all her life," he says. For him, it is the beginning of his journey, and he won't let a landmine disrupt his goals and dreams.

Across Myanmar, landmines and other explosive hazards continue to impact the lives of many communities long after clashes end. Some people have lost their loved ones, some have been severely injured and some live with the scars of landmine incidents for the rest of their lives. The ICRC's teams work with partners to raise awareness about landmines and other explosive hazards in communities living in conflict-affected areas. In Kachin, Kayin, Rakhine and Shan states we also provide physical rehabilitation services to people with disabilities.