Wednesday, January 2, 2008

First Visit to the new Landmine Museum and Relief Facility

Thursday, January 3, 2008


After a week and a half of planes, airports, hotels, buses, and cars on some very bumpy roads, I've settled into my very nice room at the Green Town Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Yesterday, I made the long-awaited first visit to the new location of the Landmine Museum and Relief Facility. It was a 32km pleasurable journey by tuk-tuk from Siem Reap.

It is this new facility which, through its outreach programs, has built schools in the rural areas of Cambodia lacking a school, or requiring a replacement school.

I arrived in the early cool of the morning, and no sooner walked through the entrance, to be met by Akira himself. Akira, founder of the Landmine Museum, was a former conscripted Khmer Rouge soldier, who since the war, has made it his goal to “Make My Country Safe for My People'. This he has been doing by removing landmines on a continual basis. Akira is a licensed and accredited de-miner.

The new facility is comprised of a Landmine Museum, offices for the Cambodian Landmine Museum Relief Fund, a home for Akira, his family, and 18 child landmine victims. There is a kitchen, small school room, bathrooms, and a play yard in this safely fenced-in facility. The children have all their needs met, and have supervision by hired Khmer staff. All thanks to Canadian documentary filmmaker Richard Fitoussi who spent seven years of his life working towards the creation of this new facility for Akira.

Akira and I had ample time to have preliminary discussions regarding the 'Muskoka School' project. He was delighted with the fact that approximately $3800 had been raised towards the building of a school. He said that should build quite a big school. Many, many areas need a school, but two in particular came to mind – Oromchek Village and Jrung Village. I have not had a chance yet to find these remote areas on a map yet, but will post a precise location once I find out. Akira said that sometime before January 24th we would make a journey to that site. I will be posting pictures of that, once the trip is made. Then a bank account will be set up for Akira to buy the supplies and hire local Khmer people to build the school.

It's a very exciting first step in the 'Muskoka School' project!