Chanthava Podbouly

Portrait Chanthava

I was living in the south of Laos when my accident occurred. My husband and I had taken our children out to work in the fields about a kilometer from where we lived. There was a new paddy field there at the time, and we were working on expanding it. He took buffaloes and went to plough the fields, while my three children and I went looking for bamboo shoots. Collecting bamboo shoots was always a good way to reduce family expenditure.

I was using a hoe to find the bamboo shoots when I hit a bombie hidden beneath the ground. The UXO blew up immediately, and I was left in the field, suffering terrible pain and bleeding excessively. My husband and children were all near enough to find me quickly and see that I was lying on the ground, soaking in blood.

They managed to get me across the Xe River to the hand tractor, which they used to transport me to Xepon District Hospital. The entire way there I screamed, and my children had to watch as I tried to cope with the pain. It was terrible.

It took forty minutes to reach the hospital, where I was treated for a week. The district hospital couldn’t heal my wound though, and I was referred to the provincial hospital at Savannahkhet, where I stayed for two months. The bone in my right leg was so badly fractured that the doctor had to amputate it.

Then, I returned home, where I struggled with the aftermath of having been involved in a UXO accident. We had to sell six buffaloes, because at that time, buffaloes were cheap and didn’t command much money. We had to pay five million kip for my treatment – which included money that my relatives gave us. My living conditions changed – not being able to move about with such ease had a big impact on how well I could care for my children. It was a very difficult time.

I will help Lao people who have been affected by cluster bombs by helping them to be more confident. People with disabilities have the same rights as other people. I am very happy to become a BA and be able to help the Lao government implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

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