Explosive residue mistaken for a toy
In December 2006, while the residents of the Houay Hou village in eastern Laos were organizing the Hmong New Year festival known as "Noj Peb Caug," Chue Por, who was 17 at the time, took part with other young people in a spinning top tournament, a traditional activity during these celebrations. During the match, his top was thrown off course and landed in the nearby stream.
As he was trying to retrieve it, he saw a metal object that he thought would make a perfect spinning top. He picked it up and started shaping it with a knife. But the metal object was a cluster munition. It exploded causing very serious damage to his left hand.
Chue Por was rushed to the hospital unconscious. He woke up to discover his hand had been amputated:
"Before my accident, I really had no idea that there were explosive remnants of war around my village. This terrible accident could have been avoided."
The accident had serious consequences. Chue Por dropped out of school, feeling "too different" from the other students. His relatives borrowed money to pay for his hospital treatment and had to sell their livestock to pay their debts, leaving them in a dire financial situation.
From rehabilitation to advocacy campaigns
HI identified Chue Por in 2019 and referred him to a rehabilitation center where he was fitted with an artificial limb.
“Thanks to HI, I am receiving physical and psychological help.”
Since then, Chue Por has taken part in various training courses supported by HI, including one on the rights of people with disabilities. HI has also helped him attend important events such as a national workshop on strategic planning for the victim assistance sector and a regional workshop on setting up a victim assistance network.
“Today, I can clearly see the positive changes in my life: I'm happy to be with my family and to look after my livestock."
Chue Por has even taken part in campaigns to raise awareness of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Mine Ban Treaty and other international frameworks aimed at preventing the use of explosive remnants of war and mines.