My name is Berihu Mesele and I am from the Northern part of Ethiopia. I live in the town of Mekele. I am married and I have two daughters, who are five and three years old.
I was once a person who could normally walk. Now I am in a wheelchair.
I was a fighter for four years and suffered an accidental bullet wound to the leg in 1991. I was 22 years old then. In 1992, after the end of the struggle, I went back to complete the schooling I had had to leave.
During the border conflict with Eritrea in June 1998, the Ayder School, close to my house in Mekele, was bombed. It was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Many people ran to the school to see what had happened to their children. I ran with them. When I arrived there, I saw people lifting children into cars to bring them to the hospital. I saw blood everywhere. At that moment, I did not realise who was injured or dead, or whether my relatives were among them or not.
We did not expect that around 30 minutes after the first bombing, a plane would bomb the school a second time. There was no sound, nothing. I was hit during that second bombing. I lost consciousness and I did not even know I was being brought to the hospital. When I woke up two days after the accident, they told me they had immediately amputated both of my legs.
People had kept the accident a secret from my family, who live in a village. After 10 days, my family came to see me. My mother started to cry, but I thought I was better off than the many children who had died in the cluster munition bombings. At first I thought I was a useless person, but after three months, when I was cured, I saw many people using wheelchairs.
Now I work for the government in the financial and development sector. I got married in 2002. My wife knew me before my accident. We have two daughters, Selam and Fana.
Before my accident, I did not know about cluster munitions, and I did not know they were destroying people. Now that I know the other survivors in the Ban Advocates Team, people like me, I feel strong and I can fully speak out. Cluster munitions have to be banned.