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| Ghulam Mohammad: A Deminer
Ghulam Mohammad, father of five sons and
two daughters, was injured by a mine on 23 February 1994. This testimony
was sent to us by the Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan.
Born in a very happy farmer family in the evergreen
Kandahar province of south Afghanistan, Ghulam Mohammad was brought
up as an educated child of his small village where very few had
the chance to go to school. Soon after his graduation, Ghulam was
appointed as headmaster in his once peaceful and calm Kandahar province.
He married and started his small family life with
many hopes for the future of his family. In 1979, his country was
invaded by over one hundred thousand foreign troops. The subsequent
war left Ghulam, like other Afghans, with permanent wounds. Ten
million landmines, the legacy of war, even today pose a serious
life threat in about 2000 Afghan villages. Ghulam's native village
has been one of those.
Meeting the costs of living is a daily challenge
faced by all Afghans. This problem is particularly pronounced in
mine affected villages such as Ghulam's. As the only breadwinner
of his small family, Ghulam joined the country's demining program
and was employed with the Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA)
in early 1992. Working on the front-line of mine-field survey operation,
Ghulam has been an unlucky witness of the death of many young colleagues
during dangerous mine clearance operations. Ghulam was fully aware
that, some day, he might face the same fate. But as he could not
find other alternatives for feeding his children, he was forced
to face this expected life threat..
As the team leader, Ghulam had to enter the minefield
first. Two factors made Ghulam brave enough to face the daily challenge
of landmines: he had to save his oppressed people from the devastation
of mines and he had to earn a living for himself and his kids who
waited for him in a tent in refugee camp in neighboring Pakistan..
It was the early morning of 23 February 1994,
the beginning of the spring season. Ghulam and his team were working
on minefield No-24/2404/019/004 in Chashma Mohammad Khan village
of Maywand district of Kandahar province. Ghulam himself narrates
the tragic story of the incident:
As usual, that morning I again dreamed about going
to visit my children very soon after the end of the mission. I
even had ideas for lovely gifts for my children, because when
I left them last I promised them some. Soon after the start of
the minefield boundary marking, I stepped on a Russian PMN anti-personnel
pressure mine. All I can recall from that moment is a flash of
light and a thunder-like sound which marked the end of my real
and, I would say, beautiful life.
When I first gained consciousness again I was shocked
to see my right leg cut; I can't say more about that scene because
I can't make it fit the shape of words. Seeing my leg cut, I thought
who would look after my family who are waiting for me, not knowing
they lost their only hope and supporter. It was here that I broke
into tears and suddenly felt the first but the most severe pain.
I was lucky that after the incident they airlifted
me to the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) hospital
in the city of Quetta, in neighbouring Pakistan.
It was a long and miserable life in hospital and
afterward in my tent in the camp. Pains and amputation on the
one hand, unemployment and family survival on the other. In 1996,
I was provided with prostheses and took tough exercises to recover
my mobility. Then I was given the chance of reemployment in the
MCPA survey teams.
I have a message for mine producers:
Would you be kind enough to find another way of
making money? I think now you would better off producing prostheses
for hundreds of thousands of mine victims and mine detectors for
the 110 million mines of yours that have been used. Be aware that
your mines have already targeted you and your children as well.
Because you made them do so.
Before they attack you, stop them, ban them!