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Hasancevic Mehmed - Bosnia and Herezegovina

Hasancevic Mehmed stepped on a landmine in 1992 while on military task in the village Lendici, which is very close to his home. The explosion caused severe injuries to his right leg. One of his friends received slight injuries in the same incident. Mehmed received first aid from his colleagues and then he was immediately transported to the Tuzla hospital where he had three surgeries before his leg was amputated above the knee.

At the time of Mehmed’s injury, the country was still at war and there were thousands of amputees waiting to get prosthesis. Mehmed received his first prosthesis in early 1993, almost one year after he was injured. At the time he felt desperate. He couldn’t walk and was not able to support his family -- who were going through the most difficult period of their lives. His first prosthesis did not fit well and wearing it caused him many difficulties. Two years later he received another very poor quality prosthesis, which broke soon after he received it. Finally in 1997, with the help of friends from Germany, he traveled to Germany and received a perfectly-fitted prosthesis, which he still wears with no problems.

By this time the war in Bosnia was over, but not the problems of survival. Mehmed finished his Secondary education to become a qualified electrician, but couldn’t find a job. He contacted the local Military Invalid Branch and learned that they were offering training for copper engraving. He decided to join the group learn this new skill.

After completing his training, Mehmed began a small business making souvenirs in copper. Since all of his souvenirs were hand made it took a lot of time and energy to get the final product. He did not have adequate equipment, which meant he had to rely on his neighbor who had a car repair workshop to polish the final products. Mehmed worked very hard to find customers for his products and established many contacts with local authorities, who were buying his souvenirs for the visitors who came to their town.

In 1998 an LSN Outreach Worker heard about Memhed from another survivor and started to visit him regularly. During the visits they got to know each other very well and established a very open and trustful relationship. Mehmed told the Outreach Worker about the problems he was having with his work. Together they decided to apply for a micro loan, so that Mehmed could buy equipment that would improve the quality of his products and shorten the time spent producing them.

They sought help from a couple of organizations, but unfortunately the criteria for loans didn’t meet Mehmed’s needs -- the repayment period was too short and the interest rate was too high. Although he was very disappointed, he was determined not to give up and continued with his work despite all difficulties. The Outreach Worker promised to consider possibilities for LSN support and continued to visit him.

Finally, in 2000 when LSN funds for direct assistance were increased, the Outreach Worker was able to recommend this case for assistance. Mehmed received adequate equipment and started to make more, better quality souvenirs in a shorter time. He still has his old customers and continues to find new customers interested in his work.

As a part of the community service Mehmed agreed to as a condition for LSN’s assistance, he is training another survivor to do the same job. With the money he earns from his small business, Mehmed is able to support his family fully participate in his community.

View the next profile: Bilka Alijacic

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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