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A better future for Joc, wounded by a submunition when 15

Explosive weapons

When Joc was 5 years old, he was hit by a cluster munition while he was fishing. His life changed forever.

Portrait of Joc, a teenage boy, smiling looking into camera. Wearing a grey hoodie, in front of framed certificates and a clock.

Portrait of Joc. | © Singkham / HI

HI is supporting Joc, 19, from the village of Soplao in the north east of Laos, who lost part of his hearing and his left arm following the explosion of a sub-munition.

Joc's accident

Joc was a resourceful 5-year-old boy who used to fish. One day, while looking for earthworms to make bait, an old cluster munition buried in the ground exploded and tore his hand. He spent 30 days in the hospital in Xiengkhuang, in the province next to where Joc lives, and lost part of his left arm and his hearing.

A difficult daily life

Portrait of Joc, a young man with one arm, looking into camera. Wearing red shirt and khaki shorts against a grey wall backgroundSince his accident, Joc has a lot of difficulties completing different tasks in his daily life such as wearing clothes, cooking, riding a bike and more. Continuing school was also difficult for him because of his hearing disability. He was not able to hear to the teacher and socializing with friends became difficult. He felt marginalized and was even the target of his classmates' mockery.

Being a local “ambassador” of inclusion thanks to HI

In 2019, Joc wearing a mask at school writing on a white poster with a market, sitting next to two of his classmates.Joc attended a training course organized by HI for the inclusion of people with disabilities. From there, Joc became an ambassador an HI inclusion: he supports, advises and integrates other people with disabilities in his village.

“Survivors or people with disabilities tend to be marginalized. Having a survivor like Joc as an HI local ambassador on inclusion helps us to raise awareness of communities on the fact that survivors and people with disabilities have the right to participate meaningfully in all decision-making processes that affect them.” -Julien Kempeneers, Regional AVR/HMA Specialist

This year, Joc attended a cow-raising training organized by HI. Raising animals will be a great livelihood opportunity, which will make him more autonomous and independent.

"I want to have a good future, to be included in the society, to live happily and independently."

Mine clearance in Laos: a crucial issue

Laos has the highest level of cluster bomb contamination in the world. 460 square miless (more than ten times Paris) have been identified as dangerous.

HI launched its first depollution operations in Laos in June 1996 which consists of "collecting" remains of exploded bombs, pieces of bombs, explosive residues, grenades, ammunitions, and more. The deminers also detect larger bombs, often weighing several hundred kilos, which did not explode on impact, and transport them to a specialized site to be detonated. 

•    HI has decontaminated 580,000 square miles since 2018 in Houaphan province.
•    1.5 million square feet since 2006 in Houaphan and Savannakhet provinces.
•    Since 2019, HI has destroyed 6,710 unexploded ordnances.

Date published: 03/04/22


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