Published: April 3rd 2007April 3rd 2007
Andrew and our museum tour guide, Poy
Poy lost his hand and his eye when he and his friends were playing with a 652A landmine and the landmine blew up in his hand. It took his parents 12 hours to reach the nearest hospital.
On our first day in the town of Siem Reap, Cambodia, we decided to visit the landmine museum that had been recommended to us by fellow travellers. We had also seen a glimpse of it on the Intrepid Journey's TV program.
The landmine museum is run by one man who has dedicated his life to defusing and removing landmines from around Cambodia. The museum is on his own land and only contains a couple of sheds which hold the defused landmines and a couple more sheds where people live.
The mans name who runs the museum is Aki Ra. His life story is pretty amazing and also reflects the life story of a number of people his age who lived through the time of the Khmer Rouge. In short, his parents were both killed by the Khmer Rouge and he was bought up by their army and taught how to fight, including how to lay landmines. He fought for 3 different armies during his youth, depending on either who captured him or who offered to fed and shelter him: he fought with and against the Khmer Rouge, the Vietnamese army and the Cambodian army.
To bring it
A sample of the land mines
these landmines have been defused by Aki Ra and his team. The entire museum is full of defused landmines.
full circle, after the war he worked with the United Nations to defuse the landmines across the country. After the UN left he decided to continue to remove the landmines. He now works on donations only and has trained many teams around the country to defuse landmines from their local areas.
In addition to storing landmines at the museum, the museum is home to 16 kids who are all victims of landmine accidents. They have chosen to live there together to support each other and do basic school there. There is estimated to be over 3 million landmines still left in Cambodia. Landmine accidents mainly occur from children playing with unexploded landmines or from people farming the land and setting them off. During our entire visit around Cambodia (around 10 days) seeing people with missing limbs was not an uncommon sight.
The pictures show what the museum was like. One of the kids that lived there, Poy, showed us around. The mines come from a variety of countries: either made in Vietnam, America or Russia.
It was one thing for us to see all these defused landmines, what was more hard hitting was reading the stories of
The Bouncing Betty is set off by a trip wire and flies into the air where it explodes.
the kids describing how they had landmine accidents - one kid stood on a mine and when his brothers ran to his aid they were both killed crossing other mines.
The stories of the Khmer Rouge days are also hard hitting - read the stories below in the photos and take a look at the picture they drew.
There are more photos below