International Mine Awareness Day 2021

Year 1997
Penjween District, Iraq

Days in these mine-infested fields begin like any other, whether they will irreversibly alter someone’s life or not.

Karim is a shepherd. He was breeding animals close to the farm’s neighbouring village when he stepped on a mine. The explosion took his leg but its cacophonous noise, all too familiar to the village’s locals, saved his life. The people in the village found him and carried him to the Penjween Health Centre for first aid care.

We met him when he was referred to EMERGENCY’s Surgical Centre in Sulaymaniyah – a facility handed over to and run by local authorities since 2005.

“I got surgical, medical and physiotherapy services, and then I was referred to the Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration Centre after 3 months where I received my prosthesis”.

The harrowing circumstances so many patients like Karim face inevitably bring moments of discouragement and emotions of defeat. At EMERGENCY’s centre there is more than just prosthetics and physiotherapy provided, a hope for the future and return to economic independence is instilled too. Karim applied for our Vocational Training Programme to work with leather, and hopefully after attaining his certificate he’ll be able to join the leather cooperative workshop.

“After being admitted to the Training Course, I found many people around me among the Trainers, staff and other patients who encouraged me and helped me change my mind, and I am feeling very happy now.”

Karim was a shepherd. He will soon be a leather worker. Landmines should not be part of anyone’s story, but for Karim, his story will at least have a new chapter and will not be defined by a landmine. Today, on International Mine Awareness Day, we tell his story, one that may be incomprehensible to many of us, but too familiar to too many others.


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