When armed conflicts were prevalent in Karen state 10 years ago, Kyaw accidentally stepped on a landmine. He was referred to Mae Sot General Hospital and had to have one leg amputated. The same accident happened to Wahr 3 years ago and he also lost his one leg. There are around 90 landmine survivors in their village, including women.
“You can’t imagine how much the prosthesis has helped our daily life. Although there are some challenges, we can still work to support our family, which is more than worth it.”
45 years old Wahr and 46 years old Kyaw visited the Prosthetic Department at Mae Tao Clinic to receive new prostheses.
They are from a village in Karen state, Burma, where there are about 1,000 households living together. Majority of the villagers are ethnic armed group soldiers and youths mainly go to Bangkok in search for better jobs, working as daily workers.
Wahr and Kyaw are soldiers: Wahr for 20 years and Kyaw for 9 years. They make 50,000 Myanmar Kyat (USD 31.5) per month, which is quite tight for the living. When armed conflicts were prevalent in Karen state 10 years ago, Kyaw accidentally stepped on a landmine. He was referred to Mae Sot General Hospital and had to have one leg amputated. The same accident happened to Wahr 3 years ago and he also lost his one leg.
After the amputation, the doctor recommended that they should not wear a prosthetic leg for 6 months. They told us that it was the hardest moment and it made them lethargic and depressive. They could not find anyone to blame. They shared a common hardship during this period and told us “as wounded soldiers at the time, we received a small amount of rewards from the leader of the armed group but they were insufficient and could not meet our living expenses and school fees for our children.” Regardless of hardship and handicap, they might have faced, they tried to find anything that they can make some extra money to support their family.
It has been already 3 times for Kyaw to visit Mae Tao Clinic to receive prosthesis while it was the first time for Wahr.
“There are around 90 landmine survivors in our village, including women, and most of them are soldiers like us. We are still in the service, serving for our people.
You can’t imagine how much the prosthesis has helped our daily life. Although we cannot walk for a long time or carry heavy stuff, we can still serve as a soldier and work. Sometimes we inevitably need to take a long walk in mountainous areas, the area of prosthesis becomes awfully painful: the skin of that area rubs and chafed while walking. Nevertheless, we can still work and make money to support our family, which is more than worth it.
We cannot thank enough Mae Tao Clinic and its donors to support this project. If we cannot come all the way to pick up the ordered prosthesis, the clinic staff kindly arrange the delivery to the remote areas in Burma. This service is vital for people like us and is needless to say to change lives.”
According to the Landmine Monitor Report 2016, ‘Myanmar/Burma has produced many mine casualties for decades. When compared globally, over the past decade, Myanmar/Burma has the third highest total of mine victims combined across years.’ Especially eastern Burma, where is located along the Thailand-Burma/Myanmar border is believed to be one of the most landmine-contaminated places in the world.
Mae Tao Clinic monthly cares for around 13 people who need prosthetic services.
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 To respect interviewees privacy, we do not display the full name or position of the armed group they are serving or fighting with. Neither can we disclose the village they are from.
 Karen State is a state of Burma. It is bordered by Thailand to the east. Majority of refugees and migrants along the Thai-Burma border are from Karen State.