Goto main content

Xiemna, 33: “My life was shattered by a grenade explosion”

Explosive weapons
Colombia

Xiemna, 33, was the victim of a grenade attack in her own home. Within the space of a few seconds, she lost both of her children and suffered serious injuries. With support from Handicap International (HI) and Tierra de Paz, she has been given psychological support and has now set up her own home-made yoghurt business.

Picture of Xiemna | ©Jules Tusseau/HI

17 August 2012. I was at home, in my house. We were cooking and the TV was on. I was six-months pregnant. I was going to put my five-year-old son to bed when I heard a noise. It all happened so quickly. There was an explosion, a loud bang, and then silence. I wanted to scream and shout and call my husband. I looked for my son, my child, my love, and I heard screaming. I had blood all over the stomach and body. My head felt heavy. They were shouting “Xiemna”, over and over again. My son’s body was still. I couldn’t breathe properly. They rushed me to the clinic in Cali. The doctors shouted: ‘It’s really serious! “It’s really serious!’ I just kept asking: ‘Where are my children?’ Slowly, steadily, I began to feel the pain. It was violent, heavy, bitter. That’s when it dawned on me: they were dead. My body was torn apart. I had grenade shrapnel in my head and wounds on my forehead, breast, hands, hips and lungs,” says Xiemna softly, her eyes welling with tears. “Within seconds, a grenade had torn my life apart.”

Armando, her husband, adds: “We live in an indigenous reserve, El Nilo, in Cauca, a departamento badly affected by the conflict in Colombia. Someone threw a grenade through the window of our house.

Although Xiemna was treated in hospital, she’s still heavily traumatised: “Thanks to HI and Tierra de Paz, I’ve been given psychological support. I also discovered Christianity, which has given me a lot of strength. I feel much calmer again now, and I don’t feel hatred or the need for revenge anymore.”

We weren’t going to let ourselves be beaten by this,” Armando adds. “HI and Tierra de Paz helped us set up our new home-made yoghurt business. We had some training from a dairy producer and then we were given some equipment - a fridge, cooking hobs, and so on. At first, I went into the mountains to sell my blackberry and pineapple yoghurt from door to door. Now it’s more by word of mouth. We’ve built a kitchen in the garden that complies with hygiene standards. It’s a real business - our driving force. My dream is to sell our yoghurts in a supermarket.

Xiemna adds calmly: “We’re slowly moving forward. I help other mine victims talk about their feelings. I give them what I wanted to have. And our son, Samuel, who’s two and half years old, is our little bonus.

Where your
support
helps

PRESS CONTACT

CANADA

Fatou Thiam

 

Help them
concretely

To go further

Gaza: Destruction of Humanity & Inclusion’s warehouse in Rafah
© HI
Emergency Explosive weapons Protect vulnerable populations Rights Supporting the Displaced Populations/Refugees

Gaza: Destruction of Humanity & Inclusion’s warehouse in Rafah

Humanity & Inclusion strongly condemns the destruction by the Israeli army of its warehouse in Rafah and all the humanitarian equipment it contained.

Risk of a collapse of the humanitarian aid in Gaza
© HI
Emergency Explosive weapons Protect vulnerable populations Supporting the Displaced Populations/Refugees

Risk of a collapse of the humanitarian aid in Gaza

New crossing points and ‘floating dock’ are cosmetic changes, as humanitarian access disintegrates in Gaza, warn aid agencies

 

Jerusalem, 28 May 2024 – As Israeli attacks intensify on Rafah, the unpredictable trickle of aid into Gaza has created a mirage of improved access while the humanitarian response is in reality on the verge of collapse, warn 20 aid agencies. The latest Israeli attacks on a displacement camp near UN aid facilities in Rafah reportedly killed dozens of people, including children, and injured many more. The ability of aid groups and medical teams to respond has now all but crumbled, with temporary fixes such as a ‘floating dock’ and new crossing points having little impact.

 

In Kharkiv, Ukraine, the situation is very concerning
© T. Nicholson / HI
Emergency Explosive weapons

In Kharkiv, Ukraine, the situation is very concerning

Since 10th May 2024, Russia has been conducting a new offensive in the region. As the security situation deteriorates, humanitarian needs continue to increase.