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Jesús Martinez - El Salvador

Jesús Martinez has been the director of LSN-El Salvador since 2000. He has spoken out around the world for the rights of disabled people and testified before the U.S. Congress on the need for Victim Assistance in post-conflict countries.

Jesús Martinez was 17 and living through El Salvador’s civil war in 1989. He had a job in the city and had to take a bus to work. Because of roadblocks set up by guerillas, he had to get off his bus, walk around the roadblock and get on another bus to continue his journey to work. “I was a teenager, and not aware of the danger of mines. Everyone just got off the busses and walked on the side of the road. I don’t know why I was walking where no one else was, but I remember someone saying there might be mines. I didn’t think about it much.”

The Accident

Jesús did hit a mine, and the blast knocked him to the ground. “I fell in a hole; both of my legs were blown off. I had blood in my mouth, my arm was wounded, and, really, I thought it was all a bad dream.” The explosion was so powerful that others walking near him were wounded. He never lost consciousness, but he did lose all hope.

“I tried to kill myself with an explosive that was lying on the ground near me. It didn’t explode when I picked it up. When the soldiers arrived, I took a gun from one of them and begged him to kill me with it. I remember being so desperate to die, and saying over and over, ‘Please kill me.’”


Jesús did not die that day. He survived. “The healing process was very difficult for me. There was the healing of my body, and also the trauma in my mind. I am thankful that I had to support of my family. It was very important for me to meet other disabled people, and seeing how they lived their lives. Sports had always been a part of my life, and I was very happy when I saw people practicing wheelchair sports in the hospital. It has been a long journey from wanting to die to getting where I am now. I am very happy and excited about many aspects of my life. I have a wife, my children, a family, my parents and siblings, and a very wide circle of friends.”

Reclaiming Life

Jesús also has his work as Director of LSN-El Salvador. “My greatest satisfaction is knowing that I am an instrument through which LSN helps others. It is surprising to see other survivors arrive in hospitals who are going through the same process I did. They are like me. They look at me, I talk to them and they can see that I went through a similar experience and that I survived. Then the next time I visit with them, or I run into them, they are showing a completely different face. That joy is something that cannot be compared to anything. Wow. I am part of making another person happy. This is a job that I enjoy very much. I would never stop doing it. I enjoy helping survivors achieve their rightful place in society.”

View the next profile: Guadalupe Muñóz

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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