“After my accident I had the idea of fabricating my home-made wooden leg. But it was very heavy and not comfortable!”
“Patou” (grandpa) Noudaeng
78 years old
Stepped on a landmine
This story happened almost 50 years ago. At that time, the Vietnam War was raging and the US was bombing Laos to cut supply routes from North Vietnamese forces. In 1970, the young Noudaeng, 29 years old, was out in the jungle on soldier duty. He was patrolling around the conflict area between Xieng Khouang and Xaysomboun province, when he stepped on a landmine. Because of the serious damage to his leg, Noudaeng was sent to a hospital in Vietnam. But when he arrived there it was already too late: his leg had to be amputated.
“When I came home, I felt trapped”, remembers 78 year-old Noudaeng. “I couldn’t walk. I had to use crutches. But it’s really difficult to plow the land and follow the buffalo with crutches! Then, I had an idea: I fabricated a homemade leg with bamboo. I thought I was the first man to invent a prosthetic leg!”, laughs Noudaeng.
“It was already better, I was able to stand and move again. But this home-made leg was heavy, and not very comfortable. On day, someone told me about COPE, so I went to the Center for Medical Rehabilitation in Vientiane”
“I enjoyed staying there while they were making my leg: I met a lot of amputated people like me. I had never stayed in Vientiane before, it was a fun experience. And more important, I received this beautiful prosthetic leg! It is much easier for me to work in my rice paddy today”.
Thanks to COPE’s supporters and Center for Medical Rehabilitation in Vientiane, Noudaeng exchanged his home-made wooden leg for a new custom-made prosthetic leg! “Today, I invite you to visit my rice field!”