In 1993, when Eugine Mussolini was fifteen years old, he stepped on a landmine while trying to join the RPF forces in Rwanda’s eastern province. Doctors performed successive operations on his left leg, amputating more each time. Today, he must replace his prosthetic leg yearly to avoid further infection, and he must pay for this out of his own pocket.
“My first thought was, ‘I am crippled. My world is over.'” Mussolini told me yesterday afternoon as we sat in the restaurant at Chez Lando. “But after talking about my challenges, I faced my problems, and accepted how I am. There is nothing I can do but overcome.”
And overcome he has. Besides working full time for the Ministry of Finance, he runs the Association of Landmine Survivors and Amputees (ALSA) on a volunteer basis. ALSA does not have the money to hire staff, open an office, or create brochures and advocacy materials. Despite these significant setbacks, a group of over 30 ALSA members meets every Saturday to support one another – they have begun using the peer support methods they learned during Survivor Corps’ recent training – and contribute whatever amount each can give.
I will be working with Mussolini to develop a business plan, create a budget, design a web site, and strengthen ALSA’s advocacy efforts.
Mussolini ended our meeting on a high note. “Life continues,” he said, “When we can change a survivor’s mindset, teach that person to overcome, and to help himself, we call it a ‘resurrection,’ both for the him and for us.
Posted By Lisa Rogoff
Posted Jun 18th, 2009