Coalition Against Landmines (CALM) 

Helping child landmine survivors get limbs and attend school

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Project TG 2009 Report                        

The Tigray region (one of the eleven regions of Ethiopia) is highly affected by landmines mainly from the recent Ethio-Eritrea border conflict. The region continued seeing an influx of new landmine victims every year. 

While the Ethiopian Mine Action Office (EMAO) is the prime body responsible for Mine Action in Ethiopia, its mandate does not include victims assistance. Therefore, to fill the gap, Coalition Against Landmines (CALM), a U.S. based small humanitarian nonprofit has teamed up with Mekelle Ortho-Physiotherapy Centre (MOPC) - located in Mekelle – Ethiopia. CALM and MOPC jointly launched Project TG in 2008 to help child landmine survivors in the region with rehabilitation, education and socio-economic needs. CALM pays for Orthopedic (Assistive devices), Psychosocial support and provides financial assistance for education and expenses related with education.

With sponsorship of CALM, from May 15-20, 2009, Mr. Girmay, CALM representative in Tigray, traveled to Gemhalo and Wekro to visit the two Project-TG children in their villages close to the Eritrean-Ethiopia border. According to Girmay, the trip was very challenging: "Just breathing the hot air in and out was very suffocating. Public transportation was rarely available; sometimes I had to use military trucks. Teklet's area is under security zone - lots of questions and check points. In addition, getting to Teklit's home requires walking so many kilometers on foot. But by God’s grace, I was able to visit the children at their homes safely." 

This report highlights how the children were doing at school and respective homes. It also includes the impact of orthopedic (assistive) devices on survivors' day–to- day life;  the community view; and changes in their families economic situation as a result of the financial assistance provided by CALM.

Beneficiary situation Analysis

Teklet Yemane

Teklet, age 15, lives with his father and mother in Kebele Biyara, Wereda Thahtay Adi-Abo, in North- Western Tigray region. He has three sisters and three brothers. His family earns a living by farming. On June 06, 2006 at 4:00pm while he was herding cattle for the family, Teklet accidentally stepped on Anti- Personnel landmine and sustained the following injuries:

 - Right leg below knee amputation
 - Left arm below elbow amputation
 - Right eye blindness
 - Two right hand fingers amputation
 - Multiple left leg fracture


Since 2008, with financial help from CALM, he started school, which he had quitted more than two years ago. At present, he walks to school using the new prosthesis paid for by CALM and provided by MOPC. He attends third grade at Biyara Elementary School located within a few miles from his home. Teklet enthusiastically socializes with his peers and friends in the village. 

Teklet’s Father, Mr. Yemane Hagos, said: “After the Landmine accident to my son, I lost hope and had to cry every time I see him confined at home alone. But thanks to CALM that now my son can move from place to place and walk to school using the artificial limb. He has many friends now, I’m truly happy for him and the family. I have no doubt that he will pursue his education and would prove self-supporting in the long run.”

 Teklet with his father and two little siblings

Teklet’s neighbor, Mr.Guash Tesfaye said: “when Teklet was confined at home due to his disabilities, he was hopelessly depressed, and thought he would do nothing for the rest of his life. However, now he is able to walk out and come back on his own just like all his peers. He attends his classes diligently. From now on, I’m encouraged to support him in my capacity to help him achieve his goals. Another thing that I want to emphasize is that, the change that Teklet made has also changed me. I used to doubt that Teklet could ever be able to move and attend school. Now, I have witnessed all his improvements with my own eyes. Finally, I have come to learn that given the opportunity, the disabled and war victims can also be productive citizens like anybody else.”  

 Teklet with his neighbors 

Teklet’s Teacher Habtom said: “After securing CALM’s physical rehabilitation services, he has come to use upper and lower limb prosthesis, and as the result, he was able to pursue his education, which he had quitted more than two years ago. A child that was confined to his house is now able to attend school and to have social relationship with other students. I am very happy for him, and this motivates me to do more to change the lives of other children with disabilities (CWD).” 

 Teklet with his teacher

Genet Tetemke

The other beneficiary of Project TG is Genet, aged 15, at present she is living with her mother in Kebele Merena, central zone of Tigray region. On May 24, 2005 morning, while she was walking to school with her two friends they came across unfamiliar object, which sadly happened to be Anti- Personnel Landmine. Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness, they tampered with it and upon explosion, one of her friends died immediately and Genet ended up losing her left hand above the elbow. Genet attends 10th grade at Wekro Maray Secondary School, about nine miles from her home village. With the financial help from CALM, she rented a room close by the school and shares it with two other friends who are also from the same village. She is a smiling optimistic young girl who is also an inspiration for other disabled girls. She wishes to study law in hopes of fighting for the cause of the disabled and mine victims. She is thankful to her single mom for all the help and care she is receiving. Genet said: “CALM has played an essential role in changing my life; I have new arm prosthesis and proudly attend school. The organization has provided me with financial assistance to cover my education, room rental, transport and other related expenses. I can say, I am among the luckiest girls, I wish other girls affected by landmines get similar assistance from CALM as well.”

 Genet (right) with her roommates

 Genet (right) with her friends

Wekro Maray Secondary School Director, Mr. Mehari said: “Disabled children are kept confined at home deprived of education and other opportunities. Due to cultural and other influences, most parents keep their disabled children at home instead of sending them to school, or integrating them with the community. This exposes the children to psychological distress, physical and mentally retardation. On the other hand, many schools do not give proper attention to disabled children. While building stairs, toilets and seats, disabled children’s needs are not taken into consideration. But when we come to Genet, she is a clever student. With assistance from CALM, she has maintained her confidence to interact with people and her peers. She participates in various school activities such as in youth clubs and takes advantage of the very limited social services available for disabled children within the school system.”  

  Genet's teachers at Wekro Maray Secondary School

Mr. Girmay attested, "In collaboration with MOPC, CALM changed for good the lives of the two children as well as the community through Project TG." 

It is our hope that the same humanitarian services will be extended to the twenty plus child landmine survivors (aged 8-13) in Thahtay Adi-Abo Wereda. We call upon individual citizens and the donor community to support CALM and child landmine survivors and their cause. It is high time to work together to ban landmines and cluster bombs, and clear explosive remnants of war from the civilian environment.

Thank you very much
Girmay Gebremeskel

Ethiopia- Mekelle POC


Mr. Girmay, with Genet (left) and her friend