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Travels with Diana: A Land-Mine Survivor's Tale

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Just three weeks ago I was feeling startled and privileged to be sitting in a white minivan touring the back roads of Bosnia with "the most photographed woman in the world," Diana, Princess of Wales.

My colleague, Ken Rutherford, and I were surprised that, against the advice of the British Red Cross, Diana had chosen, at some political and physical risk, our fledgling organization of land-mine survivors to host her three-day house-to-house visit of Bos-nian mine victims and their families.

Traveling with Diana on this remarkable trip, I repeatedly witnessed the princess's genuinely caring, almost magical way with everyone she met - from a 15-year-old girl, Mirzeta Gablic, wounded by a land mine this year in Sarajevo, to a grieving young Muslim widow whose husband was killed in May, leaving her alone to raise their two young children.

On each visit, Diana reached out, not only emotionally, but physically as well, holding a hand, stroking a back, caressing a child's face, all the while easing their pain and suffering.

In one tiny home on a hillside overlooking Sarajevo, Diana noticed a small girl curled up under a blanket in a dimly lit room. She crossed the room, picked up the girl in her arms, gently stroked the child's thin, dangling legs and asked quietly who was able to care for the girl suffering from cerebral palsy. Like most of her visits, this was done privately with great sensitivity.

As a survivor of a land-mine blast, I'm not exaggerating to say the princess's touch was healing to those who met her.

Over and over I watched her focus her unique light on those who had been most directly devastated by the scourge of land mines.Her celebrity gave her the access, but her generous spirit gave her the determination to speak up for hundreds of thousands of mine victims - men, women, and children with little or no access to proper medical care and rehabilitation.

I first met the Princess of Wales on June 12 at a London seminar co-hosted by my organization, the Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), and the British-based demining organization, Mines Advisory Group.


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