Him lost his sight as a toddler when a landmine went off nearby.
“My name is Him and I’m 24 years old. I come from a family of farmers, and we own 3 hectares of farmland. Our family plants mostly rice and cassava. Most of our crops go towards feeding the family. We plant rice on two thirds of our land and cassava on one third. The fields are about a five kilometer walk from our house. We often travel there by small tractor or go on foot.
Our family used to have eight children in it but one passed away, so now I have only six living siblings. When I was only 3 years old, I was involved in a landmine accident that took my eyes. My mother took me with her to the woods across the road, an area that was thought to have been cleared, but there were still some landmines left. My mother carried me because I was little. When we reached the place, my mother put me down. She didn’t know that there was a landmine nearby and it exploded. As a result, I am blind. Life is very tough after losing both of my eyes. I depend on others for almost everything and there is little I can contribute to the family. I feel very sad about the accident and uncomfortable as I feel like a burden. The accident also robbed me of my chance to go to school.
At first, I don’t know about APOPO. But then I heard people talk about APOPO and the way that they work with giant rats, and it got me thinking so I asked more. How are the rats able to find those hidden mines? When I heard the news that APOPO was coming to clear this area, I was overjoyed because I want to prevent others from getting hurt like I did. I also want to keep my family safe. Every day we worry if there are more leftover landmines that no one found that can hurt us. I am thankful APOPO will prevent any more accidents from happening so that no one will face the same fate I did.
By the way, during the explosion, my mother also got hurt. The explosion hurt her waist and her arms, but she’s fine now. I don’t remember much about that day at all. I guess I was too young. My parents told me that they took me to the Siem Reap Provincial Hospital. My father tells us stories about that time, I was too young to remember. The doctor tried to save the good eye but sadly it ended up getting infected and I lot both eyes. We lived in fear for many years. I still feel scared. Even my family still feel scared. What if it happens again? Thank you APOPO for not only coming to take away these horrible weapons but also for leaving us peace of mind and safety.”