Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Help for Victims of Landmines - Designer Wins Award for Prosthetic Limb

It is estimated that around the world there are 50 to 110 million landmines buried in the soil. Governments at war use land mines to stop, kill or disable forces of an opposing country. But when the conflict has ended the landmines are left behind, indiscriminately killing and maiming any person or animal who accidentally trips the firing mechanism.

26,000 people a year are killed or injured by landmines. In Cambodia and Afghanistan 1 out of every 230 people is an amputee. Children cannot safely play in open areas without fear of being blown apart and children around the world sustain more injuries from landmines that the “enemies” they are intended to stop.

By August of 2004, 145 countries had signed and 143 countries had ratified a treaty to ban landmines. The United States is among the company of 47 nations who HAVE NOT signed the treaty. We have aligned ourselves on this issue with Iran, Syria, Russia, China, and Cuba, who also refuse to sign. Our government even refuses to send representatives to meetings with the commission that oversees the treaty and efforts to end landmine use by all countries.

Until we can put an end to this senseless destruction, there are groups working to help amputees all around the world. One example is Canadian designer S├ębastien Dubois, who recently won a prestigious design award for a low cost ($8.00 per unit) prosthetic leg that can be easily reproduced in developing countries with available materials. The leg is lightweight and energy returning, meaning it bounces and absorbs energy much like a real foot. This allows the wearer enough mobility not to just walk but to also run and jump.

He has partnered with Handicap International in a project to provide the “Mobility for Each One” limbs to citizens in Central America. Handicap International is working to secure funding and donations to launch the project as quickly as possible.

After traveling to developing countries, Dubois saw first hand the difficulties landmine amputees face when there is little to no rehabilitation services available to them. Moved by a strong social conscience, S├ębastien decided to use his time to produce and test a product that would help ease the struggles of landmine victims.

I applaud Mr. Dubois and Handicap International for coming to the aid of those who come incontact with these leftover devices of death. If you’d like to know more about this effort and the man behind it please read this article on Handicap International.


Bob Johnson said...

That's just plain crazy talk not signing the agreement, my hats off to Mr. Dubois for caring enough to use his time and resources to develope the prosthetic leg at such a good price.

Lisa McGlaun said...

I think it's crazy too. It's something I didn't know about until researching for this article.

I hope people watch the videos in the sidebar. They are very eyeopening..well, not the first one, it's a music video. YouTube sorting is sometimes not the best..:)

Thanks Bob,

thewishfulwriter said...

i can't imagine the hyper-vigilance required for people who live near land mines.

i just took a quick second to be thankful for my life and my legs.

thank you.

Lotus_in_the_hills said...

I was in Cambodia in 2003 and saw more amputees than I ever want to see again. But it's heartening to know that there are successful demining campaigns and programs to provide affordable prosthetics. Great post! :)

Happily Anonymous said...

It's hard to fathom why our country wouldn't sign on to this. I also applaud Mr. Dubois for his time and effort in this effort.

Lisa McGlaun said...


From what I read it's because we don't want to remove the landmines we've planted on the North/South Korean border. Our government still thinks they are necessary. Go figure.

Thanks for adding your comment,

Lisa McGlaun said...


Something that will give you even more pause is the second video in the sidebar. It's a commercial to raise awarness about the problem. It brings the point HOME. Would we stand for this if landmines were buried where OUR children play? I don't think so.


Lisa McGlaun said...


I think we would all feel the same as you if we could see it first hand, touch the children like Princess Diana did in the 90's. It moved her to action.


Kali said...

I recently met a gentleman on a plane ride home from Denver. He started an organization of crippled athletes. Your blog entry triggered the thought of this documentary called Emmanuel's Gift about a disabled orphan living in Ghana. Check out the film if you can and thanks for writing bringing this to everyone's attention XO

Lisa McGlaun said...


I'll see if I can find that film. Sounds very interesting. I still can't get over the fact that the US is unwilling to sign the treaty to ban landmines. I just don't get it.

Thanks for the comment! So good to see you here!