Profile of Mozambique’s Rede para Assistência às Vítimas de Minas (RAVIM)Posted: March 3, 2014
One of the key contributors to planning and implementation of the Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty taking place this June in Maputo, Mozambique will be Mozambique’s landmine survivor community. One of the representatives of that population is RAVIM. Founded in 2005 by two landmine survivors, Rede para Assistência às Vítimas de Minas (RAVIM, the Assistance Network for Landmine Victims) is the only Mozambican organization dedicated to providing support and comfort to Mozambique’s landmine survivors. With forty members and a permanent staff of five, RAVIM conducts outreach to identify and register landmine survivors with the goal of linking survivors to basic and specialized health services. RAVIM has also provided some material support to survivors through grants from donors and educates Mozambicans on landmine risk and HIV / AIDS among persons with disabilities. Since 2007, RAVIM has worked closely with Handicap International to conduct assessment of the disability sector and landmine survivor assistance needs.
In 2004, the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty was held in Nairobi, Kenya and Luis Silvestre Wamusse and Manuel Alberto Chauque, attended the conference under the Raising the Voices program hosted by Landmine Survivors Network (LSN). Raising the Voices trained survivors to be advocates for the Mine Ban Treaty, especially the provision of survivor assistance. Upon their return from Nairobi, Wamusse and Chauque, and other Mozambican landmine survivors, began working to create the core of what would become RAVIM to respond to the incredible need in Mozambique for survivor assistance.
Landmines have been the third leading cause of amputation in Mozambique, trailing only diabetes and road accidents, and for many people rehabilitation and reintegration services are unavailable. RAVIM has found “victims who stepped on a mine fifteen to twenty years ago and have never been able to get to a hospital.” While the government of Mozambique has a national disability policy that would include landmine survivors (it’s actually had two), no funds have been allocated to implement the plan.
In March 2007, a munitions depot in Mozambique’s capitol, Maputo, erupted killing 100 people and injuring 500 more. Shortly after the blasts, which lasted for four hours, RAVIM mobilized. The members went to the hospitals where people were being treated for injuries, many of which resulted in traumatic or surgical amputations. RAVIM’s members had been trained in peer counseling and support and demonstrated that there was life and opportunity after the loss of a limb. Wamusse said, “People did not believe that we were also victims and had had limbs amputated, so we had to take off our prosthetics in the hospital and show them that we have adapted to live a normal life … I told them, ‘You lost your leg, you did not lose your life, so please do not lose your will to live’.”
RAVIM’s objectives are:
- The reintegration of victims of mines or UXO in society within the context of the full implementation of the Ottawa Treaty ;
- The protection and promotion of rights of persons with disabilities; and
- Fighting poverty in this vulnerable section of society.
RAVIM strives to have an accurate evidence-base for its efforts so much of the work of the members has consisted of assessing Mozambique’s landmine survivor population. With more than 2,000 documented casualties in the country, RAVIM has registered over 900 individual survivors identifying where they are and what their needs are.
For individuals, RAVIM has provided wheelchairs and other mobility devices to survivors; for youth survivors, RAVIM has provided scholarships for students to complete their education. With funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), RAVIM and Handicap International conducted a survey on the living conditions and needs of landmine survivors in Inhambane and Sofala provinces. Funding is being sought to address the issues and needs identified in the survey. Most recently, RAVIM received funding from the Norwegian government’s Survivor Networks initiative, managed by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). RAVIM’s Survivor Network project focuses on Gaza province and will assess the needs of survivors there and provide referrals and direct assistance to survivors. In addition to its service provision, RAVIM participates as an advocate for survivors and persons with disabilities in negotiations for the unfunded national disability policy and Wamusse frequently attends international meetings related to landmines to advocate on behalf of all survivors.
Unfortunately, RAVIM’s financial situation is precarious despite the economic gains of Mozambique. To save costs, RAVIM shares office space with ADEMO, a school for the blind. With the support and partnership of Handicap International, RAVIM has been able to conduct assessments of landmine survivors to try and determine their population and needs, but RAVIM does not have the funding to provide rehabilitation services and is instead reliant on referrals to other service providers. Even those referrals may be inadequate since many government-run rehabilitation and prosthetic centers lack the supplies needed for production.
Michael P. Moore
March 3, 2014
Many thanks to Luis Wamusse for his help in putting together this profile. Luis can be reached via email (in Portuguese) at firstname.lastname@example.org