© S. de Groeve/Handicap International, 2016.
Navea and Tirean are 48 and 49 years old Cambodians. He has a small shop. She has a laundry service. They have three boys. The youngest two (9 and 18) are still studying; the eldest (22) is married. They became grandparents beginning of 2016.
Under normal circumstances, they would probably never have been together. They were born and lived in different provinces of Cambodia. They met in 1993 at a vocational training center for people with disabilities in Phnom Penh. They were both victims of antipersonnel landmines in the 1980s.
One day in 1986, Tirean, 19 at this time, was walking with some friends. He stepped on an antipersonnel mine. One of his friends died in the explosion and Tirean’s left leg had to be amputated. That same year, around 200 km away, Navea, 18, set out with some neighbours to gather bamboo. The same thing happened: she stepped on a landmine and had to be amputated.
“Initially, I thought I would not be able to walk any more. But the doctors at the hospital in Phnom Penh, where I was being treated, took me under their wing. It was because of them that I could receive prosthesis! It took me three months to learn how to use it. My husband took less time, but now he prefers to use a crutch, while I still wear it and walk faster than someone with both his legs.”
Navea wears out her prosthesis quickly. Tirean laughs about it: “Yeah, you even sleep with your prosthesis on!” He adds: “I use my prosthesis more when we go out, to go to the market for example. […] Yes, I can say that we are happy.”
They both frequent Handicap International rehabilitation center in Kompong Cham.
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