From the Epoch Times comes this story about one amazing man…
One Man. 50,000 Landmines.
Aki Ra is a man who cannot remember the year he was born. The Khmer Rouge had slaughtered both his parents when he was very young and groomed him into one of their child soldiers.
At an age when many other children would be playing with toys or dolls, Aki Ra was training with real guns. He was also taught to fight with other weapons, including knives and landmines, so that he could kill other Cambodians in a variety of ways.
By the time he was around 20, Aki Ra had fought not only for the Khmer Rouge, but also for the Vietnamese and the National Cambodian Army.
Aki Ra changed his community and the world (Adam Pervez/HappinessPlunge)
Even after the fighting eventually stopped, it never stopped for Aki Ra, haunting him in his dreams and idle thoughts.
In a sense, it never quite stopped for Cambodia either—many buried landmines and other unexploded ordnance still lurk in residential areas, dangerous relics from past conflicts. In 2010, the Cambodian government estimated that there were still 3 million to 5 million undiscovered mines in the nation.
Since the early 1990s, Aki Ra has taken it upon himself to demine areas of land with nothing but a stick and a pocket knife. From 1992 to 2007, he estimates that he has personally cleared about 50,000 mines, all without a single injury.
In 2007, Aki Ra had enough casings and shells to open up the Cambodian Landmine Museum in Siem Reap. The proceeds from the museum went to an orphanage he ran for children who have suffered landmine injuries or are destitute. He and his late wife helped educate the children so that they could contribute to their home villages in the future.
Former Khmer Rouge Soldier Aki-Ra has dedicated his life to ridding his country of landmines (Wikimedia Commons)
Aki Ra has also taught many other civilians to demine by themselves, and also started an NGO in 2008 to demine rural areas of Cambodia that might not otherwise be a priority for the authorities.
His story can be seen as one of redemption—how hands that used to kill became hands that protect and save.
But it can also be read as a story of just how much one person can impact the futures of many more. Aki Ra is a true hero – he changed his community and made the world for a better place.