The First Signs of Horror
Trip Start Mar 12, 2008
24Trip End Ongoing
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The afternoon before our party night, 3 of us, Laura, Shelley and Myself took a trip to the Landmine Museum. The government had closed this museum down and it had to move an hours drive out of town so it could continue its operation. Hence why only 3 of us bothered.
Well, I'm glad i did. Driving through the countryside weaving through the maze of temples that stretch for miles, we arrived at a small anonymous building, where some amazing things are taking place. Mr Aki Ra, a former Khmer Rouge soldier, who was responsible for laying thousands of landmines, has 3 fantastic room displays to tell of the horror that these devices can cause.
Aki saw the devastation that the different types of landmines can cause, and feeling responsible for the hurt he may have caused, decided to revisit the sights that he had previously layed mines and began an epic campaign to disarm them. A campaign that has brought international attention, including training from the UK army, there are now a team of people trawling the countryside trying to make it safe. although none of the volunteers have never been injured, over a thousand people a year are still injured by hidden mines and its estimated that there are over 5 million unexploded landmines in the country.
His displays were both emotional and thought provoking, especially as internationally there are still countries (only America in the west) that are still developing new landmines. Weapons that are designed to maim and not kill, as an injured soldier causes the enemy more problems............sick eh? Well there are mines designed to look like pieces of fruit (called pineapple mines) to attract hungry children, mines that can be hidden in cigarettes that are given to village people and when half the cigarette is smoked they explode back into your face, blinding you - if your lucky. Well in my opinion innocent children and village people are not enemy soldiers.
This was the first point in Cambodia I felt emotional at all, Angry at
the atrocities that were allowed to happen, in fact all but encouraged
by the Americans and the Vietnamese, by the rest of the world. Not in a distant past, but a past recent enough to still be affecting the children of the country now.
On a final note on top of all this good work that has been done, in taking his life into his hands every day, Aki has also found time along with his wife to open an orphanage on the site to take in children who have been victims of landmines, whose parents either cannot or will not be able to look after them. It was a surreal site watching as these happy, laughing (as all in Cambodia are) children played tag. The surreal being that the children with 2 legs were hopping so as not to disadvantage those children who had had legs blown off by the landmines..........