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Address by Nikola Kokorus, 14 year old landmine survivor to Nairobi Summit on Mine-Free World

Nairobi, 2 December 2004

My name is Nikola Kokorus.

I am a fourteen year old schoolboy from Bosnia.

I am in the ninth grade in the primary school “Drinic”, near Bosanski Petrovac.

I am also a member of a singing group.  I even participated in a public appearance with my three friends.

When I was three years old, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I found a mine fuse near the garbage in front of my house.

The fuse looked like a shiny metal toy and I took it to play with it.

My mother was washing the laundry in the yard and my father was talking with our neighbour.

I was banging the fuse on the stairs of my house.  The fuse was sparkling.  That was interesting to me.  Then the fuse exploded.  I remember sparks and the explosion.  In that accident I lost my right hand.

Two years after I lost my hand my family and I had to leave our house.  We became displaced persons.  I had to live four years in a new town and for a long time I was ashamed and embarrassed because I was different and because people would make comments about my hand.  Today I am back in my home town and my friends and the adults treat me normally.  They accept me as I am.

There are things I can not do, like farming jobs, to help my father.

Instead, I help him with collecting firewood in the forest.

Soon I will finish primary school and I plan to study to be a car mechanic in secondary school.

My message is simple:  Do whatever is in your power to stop the use of landmines and to prevent children and adults from being injured and killed from mines.  Stop the violence cause by landmines.  Allow all children in the world to live free and carefree lives.

Thank you.



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