He founded an NGO to help fund his cause of de-mining Cambodia, and established the Land Mine Museum to educate visitors about the scale of Cambodia's land mine problem and the need to continue to secure resources to make Cambodia completely mine-free which, by some estimates, will take at least another 20 years. You can read Aki Ra's story, in his own words, here. It was written many years ago and on our visit, we learned that his wife passed away from illness after their second child was born.
The mines in Cambodia today primarily originated during the 70's and 80's. Initially, mines were laid by the Khmer Rouge, who was supported by the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War. The mines were used in order to disrupt American supply routes through Cambodia. Further mines were laid during the Cambodian civil war, and during the fighting between the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese in the late 70's, followed by the continued fighting with remaining Khmer Rouge factions during the 80's. Most of the mines still present today are hidden in the rural northwestern part of Cambodia near the Thai border. As a result, Cambodia continues to have the highest percentage of amputees in the world, as well as many land mine fatalities. Sadly, many of the fatalities are children who encounter the mines while playing.
In addition the museum, Aki Ra founded a boarding school for at-risk youths, most of which were affected by land mines and are missing limbs. The children are given room, board, english lessons, computer access and most importantly an education - something that many children in Cambodia don't pursue because they work all day. Aki Ra has won several peace prizes and was one of CNN's top 10 heroes in 2010. To learn more about The Landmine Museum and School check out these sites:
We found this museum to be incredibly interesting and informative. Aki Ra and his team do a great job exhibiting and explaining their experiences during the war and their present day mine sweeping. These accounts bring to life the tragedy, horror, and courage Cambodians have faced in recent history. Though it's a bit of drive outside of Siem Reap, we would highly recommend checking it out if you ever find yourself in the area.