Mine Awareness Day: Learning for the Life Afterwards

Rangun, 04. April 2019

Ko Min Min, 37, is a traditional farmer from a village in Myanmar. In 2007 he stepped on a land mine and lost his leg and his fortune. He told us about his struggling life after the incident and how he managed it the last years with support of a local organisation.

When Ko Min Min married his wife Ma Ni Lar Win, he inherited from his parents 8 acres of land where he farmed rice and also had some cows to work with. In 2007, when he stepped on a land mine, he lost his leg and his fortune. He remembers the date exactly - on the 6th of March, 11am: “I went to the forests with my brother to collect some firewood. Only a few steps after I got off the cow-cart, I stepped on it. My brother brought me back on the cart,” he says. "On the way we got stopped off at a military checkpoint and questioned until the commander came out, gave me some first-aid treatment, and let us go. I was lucky as in some cases the mine victims die while being questioned on the way like that.”

"I asked for a Lethal Injection"

He was hospitalized for six weeks, had a few surgeries and his right leg cut off from the upper thigh. “I asked for a lethal injection, but the doctors encouraged me by showing other patients who were like me or even worse. Then I signed for the operation”, he says. A few weeks after he got back home, he heard about the hospital in Hpa-an where he could get an artificial leg. Despite the uncertainty of getting it, he was determined to try - no matter what it takes. He took off on a horse-cart along with three other mine victims who were just as eager. After a 2-day 3-night journey they got to the hospital and luckily all four of them got the prosthetics.

Although he got an artificial right leg, he lost all his fortune within a few months, as he had to spend money on medical expenses and other things. He had to sell five cows and all the farmland. “For every mine victim, the first few years are the worst. The depression hits hard, many became alcoholics and some died. I was also drinking almost every day for a while,” he explains.

Encouraging Mine Victims

But today Ko Min Min is not the person he was back then. He met up with Johanniter´s partner organisation Karen Development Network (KDN) in 2015 and became a member of Linn Let Kyal (means "shining star"). It is a community based peer group (CPSG) in which he is the leader. “What I like most about KDN’s support is that they visit us regularly every month and this really encourages us. Then of course we also had a lot of training such as first aid, mine risk education, book-keeping and other capacity-training, including leadership training. I gained a lot of knowledge and confidence.”

Not only he became the leader of his CPSG, he also got his role in the community – he is a member of the school committee in his village and is also responsible for village events and festivities. He learned how to lead, he says “as I am a leader I have to be responsible for all matters. I have to show how to do things properly instead of bossing people.”

As for his family’s survival, Ko Min Min farms a few pigs and chicken in their house compound. Every day he goes fishing and picking wild vegetables and his two sons accompany to help him when there’s no school. He also runs a motor-bike taxi service or works as a casual laborer on a daily wage of 5000 Kyats (3 EUR). Altogether he makes an average of around 15000-20000 Kyats (9-12 EUR) per day. “I really want my sons to be educated. As long as I live, I will keep supporting them for further education.”

 

 

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