Bounmy Vijak

Portrait of Bounmy Vijak

Bounmy Vijak

Years ago, I was digging a fish pond. The digging site was about two kilometres from my village. I had been working on it for a while – it was my intention that the fish pond would help to solve my family’s problems.

One day as I was working at the digging site, my shovel struck a bomb that was hidden beneath the ground. It exploded at once, and I was left struggling on the ground at the bottom of the fishpond in a terrible amount of pain.

The explosion alerted nearby villagers to the accident, and many of them came rushing to see what had happened. They found me lying on the ground, with blood all over me. They found a cart to use to deliver me to my parents at our family home.

When I arrived there, my parents were shocked at the extent of my injuries, and found it difficult to believe that I was still alive. With the help of some villagers they managed to get me to the hospital with a cart. The whole time I was still conscious, still breathing – and crying desperately at the pain. The road to the hospital was badly deteriorated, which meant that it took us two hours to reach the hospital. I was still conscious when I arrived, although I couldn’t believe I was still alive.

I spent 45 days in the hospital, and over time the doctors and nurses were able to heal the wound where my arm had once been.

I spent a long time being depressed after my accident. I could no longer move about as easily as I once had, which made life hard. With the support of my family, however, I was able to go back and finish high school, and then go on to attend Vocational College in Vientiane. After studying, I worked for the Lao Disabled People’s Association, where I advocated for the rights of people with disabilities through radio. I now work for World Education, in my home province - helping other disabled people, especially those injured in cluster bomb accidents, by visiting them and helping with their overall rehabilitation.

I am very pleased to join the Ban Advocates movement. It is very interesting to meet with other people who have been affected by cluster munitions. I hope we can raise more awareness about the danger of cluster munitions so that victims can be better supported everywhere.

I will join the Ban Advocates initiative for the first time, attending the conference in Indonesia in November 2009.