AKI RA

COUNTRY

Cambodia

ORGANIZATION

Cambodian Self Help Demining / Cambodian Landmine Museum

CAUSE

Landmines

Aki Ra is one of Cambodia’s best-known demining experts. Taken from his family at a young age, he was trained by the Khmer Rouge to become a child soldier, serving the perpetrators who, as he had been told, had murdered his parents.

He spent his childhood years learning how to use firearms with the Khmer Rouge. And for 12 years, he served in three different armies doing what he did best—making and laying landmines.

In the early 1990s, he saw the chance to redeem himself and undo the damage unleashed during the civil wars. He began clearing the mines he had laid as a child. He started out by using homemade tools and whatever tools he could afford to buy.

While some might call them brave, or even foolhardy, he and his team have, to date, cleared an estimated 50,000 landmines, 100 minefields, three million square meters of land, and helped 15,200 villagers in the process. But with an estimated five million mines still remaining, he has his work cut out for him. A courageous freedom fighter, Aki Ra continues to work tirelessly to free his country of the deadly legacies of decades of war.

BRIEF FACTS


AKI RA

1970

Born Eoun Yeak to Khmer parents in Siem Reap, Cambodia

1975

Parents died during the Khmer Rouge regime

1980

Became a child soldier of the Khmer Rouge

1984

Captured by the Vietnamese Army, became a soldier for them to fight the Khmer Rouge

1990

Joined Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Armed Forces to fight the Khmer Rouge

1993

Joined UNMAS as a deminer

1994

Left UNMAS, continued his own efforts to demine Cambodia

1999

Established the Cambodian Landmine Museum

2005

Trained in London by the International School of Security & Explosives Education on ordinance disposal

2008

Founded the Cambodian Self Help Demining NGO

 

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

2010

Top 10 CNN Heroes

2012

Manhae Foundation’s Grand Prize for Peace

2013

Gravenhurst Rotary Club’s Paul P. Harris Fellowship for Peace and Conflict Resolution