The thought of the 14 children he had to feed at home must have weighed heavily on Ugandan farmer Boniface Kapindo's mind as he walked to his potato and banana fields in February 1997. Despite the civil war raging between the rebel Allied Democratic Forces and the Ugandan regular army—which had already driven Boniface and his family from their home in the mountains—life had to go on.
Without warning, a hidden landmine exploded under Boniface. Neighbors ran to his aid and, despite many risks, managed to transport him to the nearest town with a hospital. When Boniface woke up in the hospital bed, the bitter memory of the explosion returned. Feeling the sheets, he searched for his legs, but both were gone. He also realized that he could only see with one eye, the other having been blinded by mine shrapnel. “I felt like half a man,” said Boniface. “It took a long time to accept what had happened.”
For more than a decade after the incident, Boniface struggled with his physical and psychological trauma. Landmine victims living in isolated areas are often unaware of available support services and never receive proper treatment. That's why Handicap International, which has been working in Uganda since 2009, employs local people to travel throughout landmine affected areas and find victims like Boniface.
Once identified by Handicap International staff, Boniface was brought from his small village on the border with the Congo, to a rehabilitation center in Fort Portal, where he was fitted with prosthetic legs. At the center he is able to meet with other landmine victims and Rose Mujungu, a social assistant helping him overcome the mental trauma of his terrible ordeal.
Now, Boniface has found the strength to build a new life for his family. He owns a small shop and is looking to expand the business. He also dreams of buying a three-wheeled bicycle to transport his goods. “I could sell more things and go to other villages,” says Boniface. “Getting around the village is like walking an obstacle course, a permanent challenge. But I am one of the village elders; the people respect me and often ask for my advice. I no longer feel like half a man.”