CHAMPS-Yemen began in September 2011 after the initiation of a successful Survivors’ Assistance program and has continued over the past six years, despite increasing violence. In partnership with the Yemen Mine Action Center (YEMAC) and the Yemen Association for Landmine Survivors (YALS), MLI facilitates regular Skype calls between three schools in Sana’a and five U.S. schools: Glenelg Country School in Maryland, New Lebanon School in Connecticut, North Mianus School in Connecticut, Moffet School in Pennsylvania, and the Anna Linglebach School in Pennsylvania.
Through the CHAMPS Yemen program, 48 landmine survivors received prostheses and medical assistance between 2014 and 2016, and nearly 100 survivors have completed vocational training classes in computer training, carpentry, and sewing since the start of the program. The photo below is of a woman showing her handicrafts at the YALS center. The women who complete the vocational training course in sewing have been able to sell their handmade work in markets for self-supporting income. Contributing financially to their families has made a significant difference in the lives of these women and their families.
Here are stories of the survivors MLI has reached through CHAMPS and our Survivors’ Assistance programs.
In July, 2016, Mohammed (right in photo), who was 17 at the time, was on his way with his mother, Raja’a (center), to visit his grandmother in a nearby village. On their way, a mine exploded next to his mother, causing her to lose consciousness. When Mohammed ran to help her, a second mine exploded, injuring Mohammed. When another young man, Mahmood (left in photo) ran to help after he heard these explosions, he himself was struck by a third mine.
The three survivors were identified by MLI’s in-country Yemen Manager and were introduced by video call to the students of John Moffet School in Philadelphia, PA in January, 2017. All of the survivors needed prosthetic limbs so they can resume their lives, continue to work and care for their families. Through CHAMPS, all three are in the process of being fitted with prosthetic limbs and are receiving other needed rehabilitative care.
Mohammed is the embodiment of resilience – a quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. His sweetness, charm and warmth win the hearts of all who meet him.
Six years ago, at just 10-years old, Mohammed was playing very close to his home in Yemen when he found a landmine that appeared to be a toy. Picking it up so he could run back home to show his father, the mine exploded, taking both of Mohammed’s arms and the use of an eye. His father, hearing the explosion, came running from their home and saw his son holding up his two stumps crying “Father, Father!” His father said, “I felt like I was insane, like I was going crazy; I was crying and running to my son who has blood all over his body, his arms gone.” When Mohammed saw his father’s distress, he calmed down quickly and said, “I am OK Father, don’t worry, don’t worry” in an effort to comfort his dad. His father later said, “He is so beautiful, so good, and he shows how strong he is.”
In 2011, MLI’s program manager in Yemen found Mohammad and shared his story with MLI. Through CHAMPS, MLI raised money to provide him with two high-quality prosthetic arms, which were fitted during his trip to the United States when he received MLI’s Survivors’ Assistance Honoree Award at the annual Clearing the Path Gala. These prostheses allowed Mohammed to feed himself for the first time since the explosion. Since then, MLI has provided him with replacement prostheses, which were required as he outgrew his first pair. Today, Mohammed is in high school and is at the top of his class!