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Addise Agafari - Ethiopia

Addise Agafari was only nine years old when she lost her left leg to a landmine. Addise and two of her friends were herding cattle and collecting fruit outside their small Ethiopian village one afternoon when they saw what looked like a shiny toy on the ground. Excited, they ran over to investigate. A stone was accidentally kicked up, hitting the object. It was not a toy after all, but actually a small, unexploded ordnance (UXO), left on the ground from wars past. It exploded immediately, killing both of her friends. Addise survived, but her leg was severely wounded.

Because her family lived in a rural area of Ethiopia, Addise’s emergency care from a nearby clinic was only rudimentary — doctors did not know how to treat a wound that grave — and an infection set in. Addise had to have her leg amputated. Because of the family’s financial situation, Addise had to wait three months, in exteme pain, before she was able to go to a hospital for the surgery.

However, once back home, the physical pain and recovery from the amputation were not the only obstacles Addise faced. She was treated as a social outcast by her family. Her mother was particularly ashamed, wishing Addise had died rather than live as an amputee. Addise had to do all of the household chores — grind grain, bake injera bread and clean — even though she did not have a prosthesis or even cructches to help her get around. When visitors came to the house, her mother sent her to the backyard, so as not to be seen. Addise felt isolated and without hope for her future. Although her father offered some support, he died of an illness not long after she came home from the hospital.

Addise’s situation soon felt unbearable, and she decided to leave home. Without a prosethesis or crutches, she made her way to the bus station, jumping on one leg to get there. A stranger saw her struggling and offered to help — he drove her to the bus stop and paid for her transportation to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
Once there, Addise was directed to a small clinic where she found housing. She was fitted for her first prosthesis and lived there for two years while attempting to find work and become more independent.

Eventually, Addise was recommended by a friend to LSN. At the time she was in need of both peer and health support. Addise struggled with very low self-esteem and feelings of hate toward her family. Her prosthesis was also uncomfortable and in need of repair. An LSN Outreach Worker met with her frequently for one-on-one peer support counseling, and helped her to overcome her feelings of despair. LSN also assisted Addise financially so she could purchase a new, better fitting prosthesis.

Addise now meets with an LSN Support Group weekly so that she can continue to heal and also offer support to others in similar situations. She says, “Being in the group creates feelings of self-confidence instead of feelings of shame.” Addise enjoys helping other landmine victims work through their despair so they do not feel as alone and helpless as she once did.

LSN also provided Addise with business training and a loan so that she could support herself. As she enjoys cooking, LSN helped her buy a stove to start her own store where she sells injera and other products. The store has been successful and Addise is proud that she is able to save money for the future. She says she is looking forward to a time when her business is successful enough that she can hire other women survivors to work with her.

“LSN has given me hope and saved my life, and in exchange, I want to give back to others,” Addise says.

View the next profile: Enquayehu Asres

Less than 10 percent of landmine survivors have access to proper medical care and rehabilitation. Please visit our Donate Now section and see what you can do to help landmine survivors around the world.

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