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Kol's Story
Cambodia
April 1999
Age: 17 years

Like most school children, Kol always had her household chores to do before going out to play. But her family never suspected her life would change so dramatically as she headed off to the hills one day to chop wood with her two older sisters.

Those hills were once the fighting fields of the Khmer Rouge, Viet Cong and the Cambodian government forces.

Because she was the youngest, Kol was the last one in line to go up the hill on that fateful day. She was allowed to lead the way on the journey down; arms laden with freshly cut firewood. With one unsuspecting step, she triggered a landmine which blew off her foot, ankle and about 30 centimetres of her leg.

Kol's sisters ran to her rescue.

"I didn't know where my leg was and I was frightened," she says.

Kol was rushed to a clinic where they stemmed the flow of blood and bandaged her leg. Although she survived, her carefree life was forever changed.

"I couldn't do anything I used to do," she says sadly. "I couldn't go out and play with my friends. There was no hope. I was frightened."

Kol struggled to keep her balance with an awkward bamboo walking stick on the rocky roads. She thought she would never be able to work in the fields again or hope to earn a living.

Today, she has a new artificial leg, funded by World Vision, and has set up a roadside shop to make a living. But she worries about her little sisters who still want to roam and play in the hills.

"I dreamed a few weeks ago that I stepped on a land mine and I woke up with a start. I wondered what had happened to my sister and my family. We live in a land mine area and I am frightened for them," she says.