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Armando Fabián Hernández - El Salvador

Armando was born on January 25th, 1969 in a rural area in the south of Soyapango. His father died when he was five years old, and his mother was a manual laborer on a farm. He was forced to work on the farm when he was very young, cutting coffee and helping with the maintenance of the farm. As Armando said, “Because of our very poor living situation, my 6 year-old brother died. Only my mother and I survived”.

Throughout many difficult economic situations, he attended primary school from 1977 to 1986. He wanted to continue on to secondary school, but could not afford the monthly tuition, and his mother did not have the resources to help him. Fortunately, the father of one of his classmates knew of the situation and supported him through his first year of secondary school. The school vacations were used to cut coffee and to raise money to pay for his studies. When he began his senior year, he had the opportunity to enter to the national army, which had been a dream since childhood.

Unfortunately this decision was made at the worst possible time, because the civil war in El Salvador was escalating. After 3 years in the army, he stepped on a landmine while participating in an assault against guerilla forces. Armando’s right leg was severely injured, and it was almost impossible to leave the battle to receive medical attention. He described what happened next:

“I thought of how I could kill myself. I looked for a rifle but could not find one. I took the last grenade that I had, and wanted to detonate it, because I thought that my enemy will kill me.
I waited for two hours to be moved to a hospital, where the Doctor gave me two options: to try to reconstruct my leg, or surgery and the regulation of the stump. Knowing that other mine reconstruction cases of limbs were very difficult, I decided on the amputation”

This happened on November 26th, 1991, wo month before the signing of the peace accords among the Guerrilla FMLN and the Salvadoran government.

“When I was 23 years old, I had many girlfriends. When they learned about my amputation, they broke up with me. They did not want to see me with my limb loss. I felt fine with my amputation, but they did not understand me. I resigned from the army and started my civilian life as a reject of the population.”

“The economic situation of my house became worse, and was urgent for me to find work. I received training in industrial sewing, but was not until 1993 that I could find a job in a factory.”

Armando worked in a factory many years. His life changed in 1994 when he proposed to a girl and she accepted. He now lives with and cares for his wife and their two girls and little boy. .

In 1999, Armando started to find out that there were options to support survivors of the war, as part of the Association of People with Physical Limitations of the Armed Forces. In June 2001, he became an LSN El Salvador staff member. His personal experiences help him understand the difficult situation of the landmine survivors, no matter who the person was when they became an amputee. Said Armando, “I am happy when I see the survivors happy in the way that LSN works with them. There are other institutions in El Salvador that work for the same people, but not with the directly with people survivors. They also do not assist survivor’s family’s needs or address disability issues.”

View the next profile: Maria Flor Idalma Lovos Alvarado

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