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Myanmar's Landmine Victims Make Prosthetic Legs

Myanmar's Landmine Victims Make Prosthetic Legs
Khon Ba Thar

LOIKAWDecades of armed conflict in Myanmar make it one of the worst-hit countries for landmines.

Six years ago, the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front established a prosthetics factory in Karenni state, near the border with Thailand, to help people who have been disabled by landmines. The special feature of this enterprise? All of the people working at the factory are landmine victims themselves.

One of them is Kyaw Win, a former soldier with the Karenni Army who has been fighting a separatist battle with the Myanmar military for decades. While on the battlefield, he stepped on a landmine and lost his leg.

After years of living without a leg he was sent by the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front to Thailand to learn about the production of prosthetic limbs. He now makes legs for other landmine victims.

“We had training in Mae Sot for about three years, and then the factory opened in 2007,” he says. “We can produce about 100 prosthetic legs every year. Most of them are for soldiers, but in border areas, many villagers also get injured.”

To date, the factory has produced about 600 prosthetic legs. While most of them are for people injured by landmines, about 10% are reserved for people with gunshot wounds or diabetes.

The advantage of employing people like Kyaw Win is that they know how it feels to walk with artificial legs.

“The prosthetics that the army made in the past were different,” says Maung Myint, a former soldier in Myanmar’s army. “Now, these that are made by disabled people like us are much more convenient to use.”

According to the Swiss organization Geneva Call, more than five million people in Myanmar live in areas contaminated with landmines. Most of them are located along the Thai border.

Maw Kae, who is in charge of making legs in Mae Sot, asserts that “both sides are using landmines” to hurt the other. “Even if we get genuine peace it would take many years to clear those landmines.”

The government of Burma, more formally known as Myanmar, hasn’t signed the international Mine Ban Treaty of 1997. But earlier this year it signed a memorandum of understanding with the organization Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) to begin clearing landmines in the eastern part of Myanmar, including in Karenni state.

Still, clearing the ground of all the hidden landmines is a long-term project. Which means there will be lots of work here for Kyaw Win and his team for a long time to come.

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Is Disney's "Wish" Spreading A Subtle Anti-Christian Message To Kids?

Disney's new movie "Wish" is being touted as a new children's blockbuster to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary. But some Christians may see the portrayal of the villain as God-like and turning wishes into prayers as the ultimate denial of the true message of Christmas.

photo of a kid running out of a church

For the Christmas holiday season?

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Christians have always had a love-hate relationship with Disney since I can remember. Growing up in the Christian culture of the 1990s and early 2000s, all the Christian parents I knew loved watching Disney movies with their kids – but have always had an uncomfortable relationship with some of its messages. It was due to the constant Disney tropes of “follow your heart philosophy” and “junior knows best” disdain for authority figures like parents that angered so many. Even so, most Christians felt the benefits had outweighed the costs.

That all seems to have changed as of late, with Disney being hit more and more by claims from conservatives (including Christian conservatives) that Disney is pushing more and more radical progressive social agendas, This has coincided with a steep drop at the box office for Disney.

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