New Legs: A Follow Up Report on Landmine Victims
Karreni State, Burma
29 September 2022
On 7 June 2022 FBR published a report called The Price of Freedom – this report is a follow-up on the patient’s progress.
11 September 2022
“I am a soldier again! I am going home! I will go back to the front line,” Jue Aung exclaimed to me proudly. Standing without aid in his Karenni uniform, he may have been the most proud soldier in the world that day. Looking at him in his uniform, you cannot tell that he has one prosthetic leg. The 18-year-old is so excited to go home and back to the front line to continue fighting for his people and freedom.
Seven months ago, almost to the day, Jue Aung’s leg was blown off by a Burma Army landmine as he ran through bullets in Demoso, trying to rescue one of his fellow soldiers, Michael, who had been hit by a mortar. Now, with the help of many medics, NGOs, prayers, and ethnic organizations, Jue Aung has a new leg and has been practicing walking with it.
Fellow soldiers who also lost their legs to the Burma Army, Michael — Francis, Aung Thaung, and Day Ray Htoo — were also fitted for their new legs at the same time as Jue Aung, and share his excitement to finally be going home and once again contribute to the war effort in Karenni State. Aung Thu, who lost his leg in January 2022, has had some complications with his recovery. He needed to have another surgery, and as soon as his stump is healed from the surgery, he will be fitted for a prosthetic and can join Jue Aung and the others back home in Karenni State.
As I visit Aung Thu in the recovery center, I look around the crowded room and see at least a dozen new young faces, all with missing arms or legs. These young men have given so much for a cause they believe so deeply in. Their lives will never be the same, but the belief in their hearts is still the same. They all share the same sentiment. With brave smiles on their faces, they all state how they can’t wait to get back to the front line to help their people fight for freedom.
Before coming to see Aung Thu, I had asked him what I could bring him: new clothes, a new phone, food, snacks, or drinks? For every item I offered, he told me he didn’t need anything. Even when I tried to give him some pocket money to buy ice cream and snacks, he said he didn’t need it. In my heart I wanted to bring him something tangible to express my love, but as I spent time playing games with him, hanging out with him, laughing with him, I learned that what he actually wanted was intangible. He just wanted love. He didn’t need any gifts or money. He has never even expressed wishing he had his leg back. He just wanted a friend to hang out with. One of my favourite authors, Fredrick Buechner, put it this way, “love is powerful because it alone can conquer that final and most impregnable stronghold which is the human heart.” Even if I could offer Aung Thu all the resources or money in the world, he would tell me he doesn’t want it or need it. As I got ready to say goodbye to him, he leaned over to me and said, “Thank you brother for always encouraging me and not letting me become discouraged.” Love is the real resource that people need.
Please continue to pray for Aung Thu, Jue Aung, and the many other amputees across Burma.
Thank you and God bless you,
Free Burma Rangers