The most striking characteristic of landmine victims is the power of their memory.
But in any case, how can you forget the day, date and time you lose a leg? Or an arm?
“It was on January 21, 1989, around 2pm,” recounted Wonder Mako last week, of the incident that happened 29 years ago, when he lost part of his foot — and ended up having the whole leg, from the knee downwards, removed.
“It was a Saturday.”
Mako recalls that they — him and his brothers — were coming from the fields after a day’s work. And boom!
He was taken to Mt Darwin Hospital where he was transferred upon arrival to Bindura Provincial Hospital.
For two years, he was to wander around legless, until his father’s employer chipped in.
“My father was a cook for a Mr Rodgers Manley and when his employer heard of my plight, he bought me an artificial leg in 1991.”
That was two years after he had lost his natural one.
The following year — 1992 — he went back to school and started Form One, which he had just started doing in 1989 when he got injured.
He said several knocks on the Department of Social Welfare did not yield any results as the department said they were helping those who had been injured during the war.
In 1996 he got another leg, courtesy of the kindness of Mr Manley, again. It was only in 2006 that he got one from Social Welfare — 17 years after he got injured.
“The main challenge with getting a new artificial leg is the cost, which varies on what kind of leg has to be made. The legs differ, depending on how one got injured.”
Mako’s dream — just like most of the landmine victims — is to get his artificial limb and get on with his life.
“Part of my soul was lost in 1989 but I cannot keep on mourning, I have to move on. But if you look at it the other way, this injury was not because I was careless with my life or something like that. I was just going on about my usual life.”
Now employed by a Government ministry as an administration assistant, Mako thinks if he had full use of both his limbs, he could be a different person.
“For the time being, I am not dwelling on what could have been. I want to look after my family. We are tired of the one-bag of maize donations, we need something sustainable, something that will leave us, as victims of landmines, as better people.”
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