“It means so much to me that I am now able to be independent and carry out basic daily activities. It relieves the burden on my family and I do not feel helpless anymore“. – Mr Ing, 46 years.
It’s a tale that remains all too familiar in rural Laos; the life-changing impact of accidents involving unexploded ordnance (UXO) thanks to unexploded munitions from a war with many names now decades over.
Folks like Mr Ing, 46, whose accident 2 years ago took away the livelihood necessary to support his wife and four children aged 2-15 years.
From being family breadwinner to being seen by himself as a burden, his injuries have changed his life forever.
Getting more of his life back is critical to the physical and mental wellbeing of people like Mr Ing and his family, who has gone from feeling helpless about his predicament to having greater hope for the future.
Assisting people like Mr Ing to rebuild their lives are among the critical efforts organisations like COPE Laos with the able assistance of the Halo Trust.
Mr Ing agreed to share his story via COPE and Halo to raise awareness of the critical issue of survivor support services via prosthetics and rehabilitation in Laos. Halo writes;
UXO explosion leaves farming father with double amputation, vision impairment
Mr Ing is married with 4 children with ages ranging between 2-15 years.
The UXO-related accident happened two years ago when he was out cutting grass in his fields to prepare his land for cultivation.
He does not remember anything after the explosion but he spent two weeks at the Savannakhet Hospital recuperating from the amputation of both his arms. He was also blinded in his right eye.
Some of his medical expenses at the hospital were covered by an NGO but no other assistance was provided to him after the accident.
His wife became the sole breadwinner for the family with his 15-year old son dropping out of school to help her, whilst his 10-year old daughter also stopped schooling to take care of him.
Ing is unable to carry out even the most basic activities such as eating and dressing by himself.
He has to be fed at every meal.
His family went from one that did not suffer any food shortage to harvesting only 10 bags of rice a year (enough food to feed the family for only 2 months).
The family sold their s hectare piece of land this year to buy food and medication.
To sustain themselves, they forage in the forest and harvest bamboo shoots.
Ing met staff from HALO Trust, who work to clear UXO in Savannakhet province who helped him to access prosthetic rehabilitation services for free, including reimbursement for travels, accommodation and food allowance at Savannakhet Provincial Rehabilitation Centre with COPE’s support.
HALO Trust brought Ing to the Rehabilitation Centre where he was assessed and measured for prosthetic arms.
The rehabilitation team gave him a hook for his right hand that would enable him to grasp thing, whilst the model left hand would act as a support.
Within minutes of leaving the Centre, Ing was eating with his new prosthetic devices, and regaining his sense of dignity and independence for the first time in 2 years.
A team from HALO Trust visited Ing a month later at his home. He is now able to feed and dress himself. He is able to perform his daily tasks without much help.
In time, he hopes to be able to use his prosthetic devices to help his wife with farming activities.
To learn more about HALO Trust’s work in Lao PDR, please visit their website at www.halotrust.org/where-we-
“Here at COPE, you provide assistance to those who have suffered because of UXO while shining a spotlight on the work that still has to be done.” – US President Barack Obama, September 2016