Margaret Arach, A land mine survivor Changing Lives
“My desire is to see continuous assistance given to my people. The war is over but the effect lives on. Many have been maimed and they can’t afford the basics in life. This people need continues medical assistance, they need mobility devices which many can’t afford, and they need psychosocial support. They also need to be economically empowered. We need to think of our people at the grass root level who are suffering. I’m lucky I’m empowered through education to know my rights. It is therefore everyone’s duty to ensure that we the people with special abilities are taken care of. A lot of good plans are on paper but the implementation is lacking. What is the way forward?
Margaret Arach Orech is Director of Uganda Landmine Survivors Association. She has a strong passion and is resilient in working to make a difference in the lives of landmine victims. Her own experience as a landmine survivor gives her the courage and determination and strength. Margaret is working tirelessly to change the lives of women who have been abandoned by their husbands and denied property rights. Her weapon is her voice.
“My experience is that people with Special abilities (as they prefer to be called, not persons with disability) suffer the worst discrimination in society. The landmine survivors are suffering from man-made disaster. The women are the hard hit because most of them have been rejected by their spouses leaving them to fend for themselves and the children because they are now considered useless. Most of their husbands have since abandoned these women and married new wives.”.
Last year, during the United Nations Mine Awareness day celebrated at Gulu University, a region with a huge number of landmine survivors due to the LRA 26 year war, attracted many people. The celebration was organized within the “Lend your Leg” international campaign by ULSA with a call on: Accelerating clearance; Have better rehabilitation services; and Survivors’ economic empowerment.
On the road to achieving her vision, Margaret is now engaging Members of the Ugandan Parliament, the military, the appropriate government ministries and international stakeholders including representatives from ICRC. The strong commitment which came out from top Government representative (in the meeting) to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions prior to the States Meetings in Zambia in September 2013; tells you how Margaret is taking strides in her work.
I am proud to say that, Margaret has laid bare the plight of the landmine victims particularly the women and children. She has taken her voice to the highest mountain in Uganda. She is watching with a heavy heart whether her cry will bear fruit.
Margaret, I admire your courage and strength. I admire your resilience. May the Almighty God continue to give you courage in your struggle. One day I know doors will be opened to you so that your efforts will not be in vain. Through your leadership those whose lives you touched are smiling again.