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These are real life stories from people around the world who have had contact with cluster munitions.

More Real-Life Stories and images can be found at the Image Gallery on Cluster Munitions.

To read more about the experiences of survivors of cluster munitions and their work to achieve a ban, visit the Ban Advocates web site.

When the ground isn’t safe – playing football in the shadow of cluster bombs

Mini and his team members in Sweden © Per Friske

19-year-old Mini Phanthavong is a talented football player from Phonsavan, a town about 400km north of Laos’ capital Vientiane. At the age of 16, he joined his football-playing friends on an incredible journey to Sweden, where they competed in the largest youth football tournament of the world.  

Playing football in Sweden is different from playing in Laos. Not only is Sweden on the other side of the world and has it got lots of lush flat grass to play on; in Sweden Mini did not have to fear kicking the ball off the football pitch into a cluster bomb contaminated area.

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Selling seafood sustains survivor peer support group in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

 The income generating shop: Poissonnerie Mandoko in Moanda

The Survivor Network Project was launched in 2012 by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines - Cluster Munition Coalition to promote, build and support the collaboration of survivors’ networks in order to develop victim assistance objectives.

The Consortium de Plaidoyer sur l’Assistance aux Victimes (the Consortium for Advocacy on Victim Assistance, CPAV) created a sustainable and inventive peer support project in the region of Moanda, Bas Congo, DRC with support from the ICBL- CMC’s Survivor Networks Project.

CPAV, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been a part of the Survivor Network Project since 2012 and is active in many regions already.

Although Moanda has never been directly affected by the internal conflicts of the DRC, its location – at the border with Angola – made this region the rear base of the rebels and, as a result, a mine-affected area.

Successful clearance efforts led to the province being declared free of mines in 2013. However, nothing had ever been done to bring support to its survivors, until CPAV decided to expand its support to the Bas Congo in late 2013.

Franky Miantuala, Director, Congolese Campaign to Ban LandminesThe project’s objective is to help landmine survivors and other persons with disabilities overcome trauma and isolation with the psychological support of the peer group.

In November, twenty-five peer volunteers were selected and trained to build and manage a support group in this region where no other assistance was available. Francky Miantuala (picture right) Coordinator of the Congolese Campaign to Ban Landmines, conducted the training using the “Four-day Training on Peer support” tool developed by Survivors Corps.

Since then, the group has met at least once a month to exchange experiences and build the group cohesion to enhance individual and collective growth.

But this is only one part of CPAV’s Project, whose main goal is to ensure that survivors and persons with disabilities support themselves as fully integrated members of their communities.

To meet this goal, capacity building and sustainability were brought together through an income-generating project.CPAV understood that local survivors should be responsible for all aspects of the project from its inception: from the original design, to implementation, management and its economic sustainability. This is how the idea for an income generating project was established.

Donor funds to support ongoing meetings of the peer support group will end after the end of project in June 2014. In order to keep the meetings going, survivors from Moanda city, a seaside town on the Atlantic Ocean, decided to open a fish shop (pictured below).

Opening in December 2013, they began to sell fish from the ocean to the tourists coming from big cities to enjoy the beach and fresh food.

The shop has three objectives:

generating funds to support ongoing participation in peer support activities by covering transport costs;

covering urgent needs of members such as school items for their children and primary medical care;

and job creation for one of the members of the group, who is paid to run the shop day to day.

A lot has been accomplished since the shop opened just a few short months ago. Survivors have already faced challenges like the instability of the electricity supply in the city. However, they are a resourceful group and are currently considering the pros and cons of purchasing an electric generator versus drying or salting the fish so it can be kept longer.

This project is an example of how resourceful survivors’ networks can be and how they can overcome all kinds of difficulties by coming together - even the most unexpected ones like how to preserve fish in an unstable environment!

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A powerful advocate for the cluster bomb ban: Thoummy Silamphan

Thoummy Silamphan
Thoummy Silamphan, 22, lost part of his left arm in a cluster bomblet accident when he was 8, and now advocates against cluster bombs. Photo credit: Tracie Williams

By Gemima Harvey

Think of an issue you believe in more than anything else; an issue that has deeply affected your life. Imagine you are an advocate for this cause. Consider sharing your concerns and feelings in front of an audience.

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Lao PDR: Five children killed in cluster bomb blast

Lao PDR: Five children killed in cluster bomb blast
Rights of survivors, urgent clearance of remnants should be priorities at November meeting

(London, 11 March 2010) – Five children were killed and one injured when a cluster submunition exploded in a village in Lao PDR’s Champasak province on 22 February 2010. The incident highlights the need for urgent action to assist survivors and ensure the clearance of cluster munition remnants when states parties to the treaty banning cluster bombs gather for their first official meeting in the Lao capital, Vientiane, this November, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) said today.

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Rum Vet, 35, Kor Lob Village, Kratie Province, Cambodia

Sitting on the steps of her modest house, Rum Vet, 35, shyly describes the cluster bomb explosion that left her legless from the right knee down and killed her brother nearly 25 years ago. She was just a young girl when the cluster bomb went off while she was working in the fields near her house in Kratie, which is one of Cambodia’s most heavily-bombed provinces, but she has felt the effects of the explosion her whole life.

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