Help a Landmine Victim Walk Again

by The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI)
Mine survivor learns to walk with a prosthetic leg
Mine survivor learns to walk with a prosthetic leg

Thanks to your support, the Marshall Legacy Institute's (MLI) Survivors' Assistance programs around the world continue to improve the lives of thousands of landmine survivors.  In Iraq, MLI recently launched a large scale program to assist the more than 50,000 mine survivors who are living in and around the Basra area.  

Both young & adult landmine survivors in Basra face long-term medical and psychological challenges after their injuries have occurred.  As young survivors grow, costly prostheses require replacement, repair and maintenance.  Survivors often suffer psychological distress and require continued medical care & social integration.  Unfortunately, these survivors and their families are usually unable to afford this care.  Even if a prosthetic facility exists to provide the prostheses, survivors rarely have a mode of transportation to take them to the multiple appointments required for evaluations and fitting of prosthetic limbs.  Additionally, because of their disabilities, landmine/war survivors suffer high unemployment rates and specialized vocational rehabilitation is virtually nonexistent for survivors, condemning both the survivors and their families to a lifetime of struggle and isolation.  

Therefore, with support from private Americans like you, the U.S. State Department, the Iraqi and UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO), and the Polus Center, MLI launched the Partnership for Iraq program in 2012.  This program is the first of its kind and is creating a unique and centralized system to: 1) provide vocational training and medical assistance for survivors, 2) provide specialized training and equipment for Iraqi doctors so that they will be able to better assist mine survivors, and 3) create a national registration list for mine survivors, so that their needs can be better assessed and met.

In the past two months, the first 90 landmine survivors began receiving vocational training classes.  Thirty young women were identified and the first 10 have already begun sewing classes, while an additional 60 young men will soon be trained in office work, carpentry, etc.  Upon completion of their training, the survivors will all be given certificates of completion and will receive assistance in finding sustainable employment.  Additionally, 70 survivors in need of mobility assistance will soon be given prostheses and wheelchairs, including one electronic wheelchair for an individual who lost both of his legs and an arm in a landmine explosion.

Thank you for your continued support of the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) and for your efforts to help us make the world a better and safer place for all.

Young landmine survivors in Basra, Iraq
Young landmine survivors in Basra, Iraq


Mohammad writing with his new arm/hand
Mohammad writing with his new arm/hand

The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) celebrated its 15th anniversary this year by holding its annual Clearing the Path Gala in Washington, DC.  During the Gala, MLI honored a young landmine survivor who has been a true inspiration to others.  Mohammad Abdul Karim has demonstrated bravery, exemplary behavior, and a tenacious spirit, despite having lost both of his arms and an eye in a landmine explosion four years ago.  

Mohammad was born in 1998 in the  village of Saref in Yemen, where he continues to live with his father, mother, six brothers, and two sisters.  This year, he is beginning the seventh grade at the government school near his house.  In Mohammad’s words, “On October 6, 2008, I was playing next to the mosque when I found something on the ground. I decided to take it home to show my father but before reaching the house there was an explosion.  I didn't feel anything and I didn't realize what happened, rather all I could think about was that I had to reach my father to show him what I found. My father heard the explosion, but I entered the house just as he started to come out.”

His father, Abdul Karim, says that he met his son, covered in blood, at the door just inside their home and was paralyzed.  But as Mohammad was trying to wipe his eyes with his broken right hand, he said, “Don’t worry Dad, I'm fine,” which Abdul says “made me strong enough to take him to nearest hospital.”

A few days after the accident, Mohammad asked himself, “How can I play with my friends again? Step by step some of the answers started to become clear and my friends started to get closer to me. My brothers and my parents encouraged me to continue my life normally. In the same year, I registered  at the Yemen Association of Landmine Survivors (YALS) and the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) as a landmine survivor. I soon began to understand that I am not only a mine victim.”

Unfortunately, Yemen was not able to meet his medical needs, so after the MLI Gala this past October, Mohammad remained in the United States and is currently being fitted with two prosthetic arms and is undergoing surgery next week to determine if some sight can be restored to his right eye.  Mohammad loves English, computers, and soccer.  He has an incredibly positive outlook on life and states, “I know the future will be better as long as there are people out there who love and help others, and I thank all the people who helped me.”

MLI is so grateful to supporters like you who have enabled us to help brave young men and women like Mohammad who have been injured by landmines.  Thank you for your support!

Mohammad after the explosion
Mohammad after the explosion
Mohammad getting his new arm/hands
Mohammad getting his new arm/hands


Akhter with his new leg!
Akhter with his new leg!

Afghanistan has been devastated by fighting and wars for many decades, which has left much of the country littered with landmines, unexploded ordnance, and other weapons that lie in wait for the unsuspecting foot of an innocent man, woman, or child.  Therefore, over the past several years, the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) has provided 28 Mine Detection Dogs to "sniff out" the landmines in Afghanistan, while also helping hundreds of landmine survivors by providing medical assistance and vocational training.

One of the young landmine survivors that MLI has been working with for the past several months is Akhter Mohammad, who was tragically injured when he was just 11 years old.  In 2007, Akhter was playing with his classmates outside of their school in the Rohi Doaab District of the Samangan Province when they discovered an anti-tank landmine and a smaller anti-personnel mine.  Not realizing that they were dangerous, Akhter and his friends began playing with the explosives, with tragic results.  The explosion that took place killed two of Akhter's friends and left him with a seriously injured leg and missing his left hand. 

After the explosion, Akhter lay bleeding for nearly an hour before his uncle found him and carried him home.  With no hospitals or clinics in the area, Akhter spent the next few weeks in agony as he recovered in his family home.  The pain in his leg continued to worsen and the family worried that the infection would spread throughout his body, so the uncle made the difficult decision to amputate Akhter’s left leg in order to save his life.

Despite the devastating circumstances, Akhter was determined to return to school and get an education.  His family could not afford a prosthetic leg to help him walk, so the next five years were a struggle, but Akhter persevered and is now in the 9th grade.

MLI's Children Against Mines Program (CHAMPS) has been raising money to help Akhter since March 2012, when we first learned of his tragic story.  Over the past few months, Akhter has been using one of MLI's computer centers in Afghanistan, improving his computer skills and learning English.  Thanks to the support of caring people like you, we recently were able to provide young Akhter with a prosthetic leg, enabling him to walk for the first time in five years!  Thank you for your generous support of the Marshall Legacy Institute as we work to promote hope, growth, and stability in war-torn countries like Afghanistan.


Landmine survivor living in Afghanistan
Landmine survivor living in Afghanistan

Since 1997, the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) has been working to help war-torn countries recover by promoting hope, growth, and stability.  Each year, thanks to our generous supporters, we are able to help hundreds of landmine survivors, providing them with the medical care and prostheses they desperately need, while also helping them find jobs and learn new skills.  

In addition to our work with landmine survivors, MLI provides Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) to mine-affected countries, which "sniff out" landmines and save additional people from the horrors of stepping on a mine.  In Afghanistan, MLI has donated 26 MDDs since 2007.  These remarkable animals have safely and effectively cleared millions of square meters of land, "sniffing out" 1.8 million square meters in 2011, or the equivalent of more than 450 acres.  The area that they cleared had been littered by landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO), endangering the lives of over 4 million Afghan people. 

Below are two interviews with individuals living in villages in Afghanistan that are in the process of being cleared of landmines:

Interview with Haji Abdullah, outside of Kabul:

 1.  Have you seen any kind of ERW causing you problems before? If so, what kinds of problems?

The existence of Mines and other ERW is a big problem in our country.  Afghanistan is a war torn country and because of 30 years of war people have faced many problems, one of these miseries is the placement of mines and other war remnants throughout the country. We have seen many mine accidents during this period which maimed and martyred many innocent Afghans in every part of the country. It has not only been a cause for the deaths and the injuries of innocent people but has prevented us from using our lands and made us migrate out of the country or at least move to other areas inside. Our agricultural and residential lands were contaminated with mines, which still are very big blows to our socio-economic status and has affected us very badly.

2.  What do you prospect, if any, will it make to your life when the clearance is completed?

The day when clearance is completed will be a great success in our lives.  Our villagers’ lives will become brighter because once again they will cultivate and build on their lands, which will solve their economic problems. Our village children will get education and they will complete the needs of becoming a Doctor, Architect, Teacher, and much more. The lives of villagers will be very cheerful and bright.

3. Can you give a specific example of a benefit that you expect? 

Agriculture is the biggest source of income for us because villagers have no other sources to earn money, so their only source of income is to cultivate their agricultural lands. We hope that our land is free of Mines and ERW so we will can begin cultivating our lands. Our economic problems will be solved.


Interview with a youth of the community:

1. Were the mines and ERW causing you problems before? If so, what kinds of problems?

There were lots of ERW and mines placed in our agricultural lands and we could not go to cultivate our lands, collect firewood and could not take our livestock for grazing. Some of our livestock have been killed by these hidden enemies. 

2. What difference, if any, will it make to your life when the clearance is completed?

There will be lots of differences after the successful completion of mines clearance programs, which will free our lands of mines and other unexploded ordinances. We will be able to walk safely and play football etc.

3. Can you give a specific example of a benefit that you can expect?

Our schools will reopen and students will be able to attend without worrying about stepping on a mine.


Thank you for supporting the Marshall Legacy Institute and for helping us work towards a mine-safe Afghanistan!

Sheringull after the landmine explosion
Sheringull after the landmine explosion

Thanks to your support, MLI has helped hundreds of landmines survivors in Afghanistan through our Survivors' Assistance program.  In addition to providing medical assistance to critically injured survivors, vocational learning centers and computer centers are also helping to alleviate the myriad challenges that survivors face.  

Sheringull's Story

Four years ago, Sheringull was a healthy, twelve-year old girl living in a small, rural village in Afghanistan.  Shy, but with a sweet smile, she had hope for the future and dreamed of what life had in store for her.  But Sheringull's life changed forever one sunny day when she and her parents left their home in the village of Karte Mamorin to go to a relative's wedding.   Tragically, just as the family neared their destination, Sheringull stumbled off the path and stepped on a landmine. 

Sheringull's parents were also seriously hurt, but managed to carry their unconscious daughter to a hospital where doctors were able to save her life...but not her right leg.  Unable to afford a prosthetic leg, Sheringull's life changed drastically after her injury.  She could not walk on her own and was forced to drop out of school, leaving her with little hope for the future and facing the grim reality that she had become a financial drain on her already destitute family. 

MLI first learned of Sheringull's plight through our in-country CHAMPS Afghanistan manager, Noor, who shared with us the heartbreaking story. Thanks to generous donors like you, MLI was able to provide Sheringull additional medical treatment and a prosthetic leg that enabled her to finally return to school.  Noor reports that Sheringull has a renewed hope for her life and that she plans to take part in MLI's vocational training programs, as well, so that she can learn how to use a computer and gain skills that will help her earn a living.

Sheringull is just one of the young landmine survivors who have been helped in the past year because of your generosity and we are so appreciative of your support.  Because of you, young boys and girls who have lost their limbs are able to walk again, return to school, and regain a sense of hope for the future. Thank you!

Sheringull with her new leg!
Sheringull with her new leg!

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Organization Information

The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI)

Location: Arlington, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI)
Project Leader:
Tycie Horsley
Arlington, VA United States

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