“Because of my disability, I thought I would never marry. But luckily I found one girl in my village who loved me as I was, and together we had two sons and built a family.”
62 years old
Stepped on a landmine
While the Vietnam War was raging, Mr Thongsing was enrolled as a soldier in the Lao army for patrolling in Xieng Khouang region. On a calm day of 1972, while he was far out in the jungle with seven other soldiers, he stepped on a landmine. His friends stopped the bleeding by covering and tying what was left of his leg with pieces of cloth then carried him to the nearest health centre, which was 4 hours’ walk away.
The Lao government sent Thongsing to Vietnam, where he received his first prosthetic leg. After that, he retired from the army and lived for thirty years with his family in a very remote rural area of Northern Laos. For thirty years, Thongsin regularly suffered from painful infections to his stump which had been poorly adjusted.
In 2008, unable to bear the pain any longer, Thongsing decided to go to Vientiane. He was told that, with COPE financial support, he would undergo a stump revision surgery which would allow the prosthetists at the Centre for Medical Rehabilitation to fit him with a lower-limb prosthetic device which was custom made and properly adjusted to prevent any infection and pain.
“Since I have been fitted with this new prosthetic leg, my whole life has changed as I am no longer in constant pain” explains Mr Thongsing. “I feel like I can make plans in my life again. I began a handicraft home business making brooms. For the moment, I just sell them to people from nearby villages, but I plan to make more brooms and sell them at markets”.
Since 2008, Mr Thongsing has regularly gone back to the Provincial Rehabilitation Centre in Phonsavan to have his prosthetic device adjusted or replaced. In June 2016, CMR-COPE Connect Mobile Clinic Teams went to his district and took the measurement and cast necessary to fabricate his fourth prosthetic leg. A few weeks later, when his new device was ready, the teams picked him up and took him to the Provincial Rehabilitation Centre to fit and check the device. Taking the cast during the mobile clinic and only travelling to the rehabilitation centre when his device was ready reduced the time away from home for Mr Thongsing.
Thanks to COPE supporters and the Centre for Medical Rehabilitation in Vientiane, Thongsing traded his 1970’s Vietnamese assistive device for a new custom-made prosthetic leg!
“Please visit me at home and I will show you how I do my handicraft!”