Go to main content

“I want to tell everyone in the world to stop using mines”

Explosive weapons Rehabilitation
Cambodia

Seng Ly, 52, lost the use of her legs in 1989 after she was hit by an anti-tank mine. At the time, she was living in a camp for Cambodian refugees in Thailand. More than twenty years on, Handicap International is still at her side. 

Landmine victim, Seng Ly, established her sewing business with the help of Handicap International

Landmine victim, Seng Ly, established her sewing business with the help of Handicap International | © P. Jérôme / Handicap International

“I was 26. I was sitting in the bed of a military pick-up. We were going to look for wood to cook with. Wood was precious at Site II, the refugee camp where I was living. My husband was with us. I suddenly flew into the air. I had enough time to open and close my eyes three times before smashing into the ground. The van had driven over an anti-tank mine.”

Seng Ly hasn’t forgotten the moment her life was turned upside down. “When I’m alone, I can’t help but think about it again. After the accident, they hid the fact that I wouldn’t be able to walk again. My husband left me. He went away for a week and never came back. He found another wife.”

After returning to Cambodia in 1994, Seng Ly was case-managed by Handicap International at the Battambang centre set up by the organisation for paraplegics returning to Cambodia. She was given a wheelchair and taught how to look after her health and to avoid sores, which are dangerous for paraplegics. Handicap International also gave her her first sewing machine and, in association with a partner organisation, trained her to be a seamstress.

Twenty years on, Handicap International continues to play a role in her life. Now back in her native region of Kampong Cham, Seng Ly receives follow-up care in the organisation’s rehabilitation centre. Her wheelchair is regularly repaired or changed. She also receives support from a team that helps people with disabilities develop income-generating activities – vital in a country where poverty is a serious problem with very serious consequences for people with disabilities.

“I recently learned how to manage my business properly, thanks to Handicap International, and I’ve been given a new, better sewing machine. I now earn enough money to meet my elderly mother’s needs,” says Seng Ly proudly.

“But I haven’t been able to find another husband. I sew clothes for other people’s children,” she continues sadly,  before adding:

“I want to tell everyone in the world to stop using mines. They damage people’s lives and every victim continues to suffer for the rest of their lives.”

Where we work

Read more

1982 - 2020 : Innovation is part of HI's DNA
© J. Fardoulis / HI
Explosive weapons Rehabilitation

1982 - 2020 : Innovation is part of HI's DNA

On 24 September, the European Union Horizon Prize for Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid honoured Humanity & Inclusion (HI) with two awards. On that occasion, HI recounts its 38 years of innovation from 1982 to 2020. 

World first: HI locates mines buried underground
© J. Fardoulis / HI
Explosive weapons

World first: HI locates mines buried underground

Xavier Depreytere, head of innovation projects at Humanity & Inclusion (HI), explains why the drone demining project launched by HI in 2018 is a world first.
 

European Union awards HI two prizes for its innovative projects
© HI
Explosive weapons Rehabilitation

European Union awards HI two prizes for its innovative projects

On 24 September, the European Union Horizon Prize for Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid honoured Humanity & Inclusion with two awards. These prizes recognise the organisation’s efforts to develop practical and effective solutions in order to enhance the care and treatment of vulnerable people.

FOLLOW US