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Klopic Kemal - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Klopic Kemal is 33 years old and lives in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina with his wife and young daughter. Kemal stepped on the landmine in 1998, three years after the Dayton Peace Accord was signed. While the war was officially over, the remnants of the war continued to affect the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

A carpenter by training, Kemal could not find a job in his field, and was forced to accept a job digging ditches with his brother. While he and his brother were clearing the bushes and weeds around the area they were supposed to be digging in, they heard a loud exploision. The landmine explosion killed Kemal’s brother, and Kemal lost both of his feet. He called out for help for fifteen minutes before a passerby saw what happened and called the police.

Kemal was transferred to a nearby hospital, where he underwent surgery to amputee both legs below the knee. Soon after Kemal’s surgery, an LSN Outreach Worker came to visit him. The Outreach Worker helped Kemal deal with the shock of his new amputee status, and continued to visit him after he was released from the hospital.

A few months after the accident, the Outreach Worker told Kemal about an event that LSN Bosnia was hosting for landmine survivors and other people with disabilities, and invited him to attend. While Kemal’s legs were not yet healed enough to wear prosthetics and he had to attend the conference in a wheelchair, it was a great opportunity for him to meet with other survivors that had similar experiences. Kemal was also introduced to a representative from the Austrian Red Cross. This connection would be very helpful to Kemal down the road.

One month after the conference, Kemal received his first prosthesis from the Austrian Red Cross. At that time Kemal was living with his family in a small rented apartment. The Austrian Red Cross agreed to build a new house for him on the land that belonged to Kemal’s father. The family moved into the new house in spring 1999, but only part of his problems have been solved.

Kemal’s wife is has muscular dystrophy, and the disease had been progressing rapidly because of the family’s inability to pay for medicine or physical therapy. Kemal had to find a job and support his family but given his disability, it was very had to find a job. He soon became depressed and refused to leave the house. The owner of the company that had hired to dig ditches when he was injured gave Kemal a car modified for someone with a disability, but Kemal did not have driver’s license.

Through the conversations with his Outreach Worker, Kemal expressed his desire to play with the wheelchair basketball club in nearby Tuzla. He had heard about the team from other amputees, and seen footage of them playing. The Outreach Worker worked with Kemal to develop a plan: LSN would pay for Kemal’s driving lessons so that Kemal could drive to Tuzla to train with the wheelchair basketball team.

Playing basketball had a tremendous effect on Kemal’s recovery. He was so excited about his new team that he came to the LSN often regularly to tell the staff about how well he was doing. He began traveling across the country with his team, and said that playing basketball totally changed his life.

The only thing that was still a real burden for his family was a regular monthly income. As a civilian victim, Kemal was receiving only a small compensation from the government, but that was not enough to even pay for his wife’s medicines. In addition to carpentry, Kemal had some experience working as a locksmith. LSN helped Kemal buy purchasing tools for him and helping him set up a workshop in the garage behind his house. He now makes steel fences and does small home repairs for his neighbors. Kemal was also able to build two see-saws for his daughter’s school.

While his new business is not bringing in much of an income, Kemal is determined to work hard enough to support his family.

View the next profile: Bego Kozlica

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