When mine accidents change the course of lifeTwo years ago, Taras lost three fingers on his right hand due to a mine incident. In eastern Ukraine, 7% of all mine victims are children.
Taras 17 years old, lives with his parents on their farm. He takes care of his animals. One of them is a lamb which he has been feeding from a bottle since it was left by its mother.
At first glance, he is a happy energetic young boy, but a closer look at his right-hand reveals relic of an accident he has had in the past. The kind of accident that occurs in the zone of an armed conflict.
Two years ago as he was hanging out with his friends at an abandoned factory building, he lost his three fingers from his right-hand to an explosion from a cylindrical object they had found there.
The two boys were taken to the hospital where the doctors had to amputate Tara’s three fingers.
There has been an ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine for six years now. Mines and other explosive remnants of war have become a great threat to the lives and safety of civilians.
7 % of all mine victims are children. Since June 2014, 123 child casualties have been recorded – 29 killed and 94 injured. Most of them being from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts with majority of the casualties being boys between the age of 0-17 years old.
Taras is in the 11th grade and he is set to finish school this year. He had to give up is dream of becoming a chef because of the disability caused by the explosion. This is because he needs this right hand for this type of job.
NEW LOVE FOR ANIMALS
Seeing their son’s love for animals, his parents gave him a piece of their farm so he could develop in this sphere. Today he is raising pigs, a calf, rabbits and the baby lamb.
DRC assisted Taras in acquiring a laptop as a part of the Mine Victim Assistance programme so that he could continue studying despite his limited abilities to use his right hand. Thanks to the gracious support by UNICEF and the German Government, DRC case workers found online courses for him to keep on learning Ukrainian, mathematics and English and found options for him to continue education. Taras decided eventually not to apply to the college or university this year but raise his animals and work on the farm.
Even though the expert commission concluded that Taras was entitled to receive the status of a victim of the conflict but that did not happen because the accident took place away from the actual conflict zone. In the meantime, he is receiving disability benefits as his family liases with the lawyers to appeal the decision.
*The name is changed to protect the identity.