My stay in Cambodia will never be complete if I will not be able to see the Cambodian Landmines Museum near Banteay Srei and it happened when coming back from my quick visit at the Wat in Banteay Srei that I decided to drop by at the famous Cambodian Landmines Museum which is a hallmark of an effort of one man, a former Khmer child soldier by the name of Aki Ra.
I met Aki Ra at the Cambodian Landmines Museum albeit very quickly, shake his hands and just see him off towards a hectic day ahead for him and his team. We exchange pleasantries. Noting his hectic day, we forgo the photo ops but I absorbed the seriousness of his work for the people of Cambodia.
Awarded by the CNN as the Hero of the Year, Aki Ra battles to clear Cambodia of landmines brought about by the civil wars. His story is one that captures the attention of the world when he started off as a Khmer child soldier after his parents were murdered by Khmer rebels. He was trained as a child soldier and according to him, at that time; he never understood which right or wrong in his actions and that of his comrades. He showed to the world responsibility and accountability by clearing the mines he helped bury many years ago. In his efforts, he was able to remove 50,000 mines.
Upon seeing the museum, I felt honoured to have been able to see his efforts firsthand and personally. I entered the premises and seen so many kinds of mines as well as weapons. Many like these weapons have killed and ripped off lives of innocent children and women, farmers and schoolchildren. Cambodia then is totally different from what it is today when Aki Ra has shown them how his efforts at clearing the land for the future reaps them security and peace.
I am rather impressed of how the museum was well taken care of. An entrance fee of US $3.00 is sought to help finance children’s education and the upkeep of the museum. My short visit gave me the chance to also thank the American President of the Landmines Relief Fund, Dr. Bill Morse for his genuine support to these causes.
Aki Ra and the Cambodia Landmines Museum exemplify the modern Cambodia, one that secures the future with optimism and drive.