Wazir Hammond, age 9, rests against a wall of sandbags that protects the Orthopaedic Centre, Wazir Hospital, Kabul, Afghanistan, from Taliban rockets, shelling and bombs, 1995. But there’s little protection when 5 kilograms of foot pressure detonates an anti-personnel landmine containing about 240 grams of TNT. The explosion shreds the trigger leg, macerates skin and muscle, and fires bone fragments, clothing, shoe, dirt and debris deep up into that leg, and often into the genitals, arms and eyes of the victim.
A landmine is ten times more likely to kill a civilian after the conflict than a combatant during it. In 1995, an estimated 10 million landmines polluted nearly 500 square kilometres of land in Afghanistan. The United Nations estimates that removing all of the world’s active mines would cost between $33 billion and $85 billion.
Wazir requires prosthesis refittings every six months, but the landmine requires refitting of his whole life. In agrarian or pastoral societies, where limbs are survival tools, disabled people are often stigmatized as those who eat but produce nothing. “Learning to live with landmines — their presence and their effect — is vital for everyone, but especially children,” says Robert.
Photo Sensitive is a non-profit collective of photographers committed to using black-and-white photography to address social issues. PhotoSensitive’s new exhibition, Picture Change, is a Toronto-based show dedicated to highlighting the ways that photography makes a difference in the world by provoking action, reflection, or even a change in a policy or law.