How does it feel when your foot activates a mine? What is it like when you lose a part of your body? What does it mean to live your life disabled? These are some of the questions that I keep asking myself. I have asked and continue to ask the same questions to different people from different countries since the perfect soldier, or rather its victims, entered my life.
I started to document this reality in 1992, in Cambodia, in orthopaedic centres and hospital camps. I realised that the more time I spent with these people, the more my interest grew. I wanted to understand how they managed to live in their homes and in their world. How they managed to live everyday life without a leg or an arm, or even blind.
On 22nd March 1994, at half past four in the afternoon an incident happened near an access road in the jungle, built by soldiers aiming to surround the enemy. A passing tank activated a mine, causing a powerful explosion which killed two soldiers and injured six. According to the commander of these men, who only a few minutes earlier had told me to get into the truck that was following the tank, which I myself had been sitting in all day, I could consider myself very lucky. Since then, my journey has led me to know countries where beauty and danger coexist in inexplicable contrast. This journey has led me to know entire communities that live in the constant fear of treading on a mine. Leaving Cambodia, I then found myself in Mozambique, Angola, Sudan, Afghanistan, Laos and the Balkans (Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia), Central America (Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras), Colombia, Egypt, Libya and the United States.
The aim of all these years has been to talk about hopes: very individual and diverse hopes. Also to highlight the lives of people, different but united through common ground: the interruption of the journey through life caused by a cursed mine. They all have their own story to tell, their own reasons to have found themselves exposed to a mine. A mine that was to scar them forever, both in body and in spirit.