Burma

All of the people working at the factory are landmine victims themselves.

INDONESIA

Jumat, 17 Okt 2014 15:28 WIB

Burma

Burma, landmines, prosthetic, limb, DVB

Decades of armed conflict in Myanmar make it one of the worst hit countries for landmines.

People living close to the border with Thailand are the most severely affected.

Six years ago, the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front established a prosthetics factory in the Karenni state, to help people who have been disabled by landmines.

Kyaw Win used to be a soldier with the Karenni Army who has been fighting a separatist battle with the Burmese military for decades.

While on the battle field d he stepped on a landmine and lost his leg.

After years living without a leg he was sent by the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front, to Thailand to learn about make prosthetic limbs….

He now makes legs for other landmine victims…

“We had training in Mae Sot for about three years and then the factory opened in 2007. We can produce about 100 prosthetic legs every year. Most of them are for soldiers, but in border areas, many villagers also get injured.”    

The factory has made around 600 prosthetic legs.

Most of them are for people injured by landmines, but about 10% are for people with gunshot wounds or diabetes.

“The materials are ordered from Thailand and arranged by Mae Tao clinic in Mae Sot.”

The advantage of employing people like Kyaw Win  is that they know how it feels to walk with artificial legs.

Maung Myint is a former soldier in Burma’s army.

“The prosthetics that the army made in the past were different. Now, the ones that are made by disabled people like us are much more convenient to use.”

According to the Swiss NGO ‘Geneva Call’, over 5 million people in Mynammar live in areas contaminated with landmines.

Most of them are located along the Thai border.

Maw Kae is in charge of making legs in Mae Sot.

“Both sides are using landmines to harm people. Even if we get genuine peace it would take many years to clear those landmines.“

Myanmar’s government hasn’t signed the international Mine Ban Treaty from 1997.

But earlier this year it signed an MoU with the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) to begin the clearing of landmines in the eastern part of Myanmar, including the Karenni State.

But clearing the ground of all the hidden landmines will take a long time. So that means there will still be lots of work here for Kyaw Win and his team.

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