This is Manuel, he’s just eight years old and lives in Angola. He loves football and playing with his friends.
Photographs by Scout Tufankjian
Physical trainer Luciano John works with the boys at Huambo Rehabilitation Centre to help them adjust to life with their injuries. With his warm smile he is just one of a dedicated team of staff working at the clinic.
Angola’s Civil War may have ended long before the boys were even born but the terrible legacy of landmines and explosives left behind is continuing to kill and maim. Today Manuel, Jeremy, Mario and Antonio are at the rehabilitation centre in Huambo. They are working with physical trainer Luciano John. With his beaming smile he encourages the boys through a series of exercises to practice their balance—there are no high-tech machines here, just simple iron railings and wooden steps. As yet Jeremy and Manuel do not have prosthetic legs. Although the clinic has the workshops ready to make the prothesis, what they lack are the raw materials—the plastic sheets for melting and shaping, the joints and screws. This acute shortage, coupled with the difficulty of fitting prosthetics for growing children means they boys will need to wait.
Lui (doing push-ups) is 44-years-old and was injured by a landmine in 1982. He is saddened that a whole new generation is still being killed and injured by Angola's mines.
To begin with the boys are serious, but once the gym balls come out their faces light up and chaos ensues. Sitting alongside the boys are Alberto, Joaquim and Rui. Several decades older they are also victims of Angola’s landmines, injured in the 1980s and 1990s. Rui drops to the floor and demonstrates his incredible agility—executing a series of perfect push-ups to make the boys laugh, despite having lost his arm to a mine in 1982.
All three men express their sadness that landmines are still inflicting death and damage on a new generation of children. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With your support, the landmines and explosives can be cleared and a safe future secured for future generations.
Back at home the boys merge with the kids of the neighbourhood, shouting and laughing. They are learning to live with their injuries and with the loss of their friend Frederico.
The boys catch a ride back home with HALO. As the landrover pulls up, they pile out of the door, and within seconds have merged into the gang of neighbourhood children, shouting and laughing. They have adapted to life since the accident—but no child should have to face these struggles. Together we can change this.