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Siem Reap - Visit at Landmine Museum

Kambodja (Siem Reap Angkor) 2006-08-30

The Landmine Museum is currently home to 16 children many of whom are landmine victims. Each child has his own story to tell. Aki Ra and his family, with the help of volunteers and kind donations have been able to provide a happy home for children who may otherwise been left to live a life of begging the streets or working at home a not attending school.

Cambodia is one of the worst landmine affected countries in the world due to almost three decades of conflict. In 2003, 97 % of casualties were civilians. Most mine incidents are associated with livelihood activities being undertaken in forests and fields. Since 1999 the mine casualty rate declined from 12 new casualties a Day 1996 to 3 casualties per Day in 2004. Of the casualties approx 20 % are killed and 80% survives but get's severe wounds and most of the victims are children.

During our visit to The Landmine Museum we met and talked to Poiy. This is his story - taken from the brochure "The Children Story"

"Poiy - Born in 1988”

Poiy's parents live in Siem Reap province but far away from the city center. In the past they both fought for the Khmer Rouge but currently are farmers. They grow rice and vegetables. Poiy has three brothers and one sister who all help on the farm and are always busy.

Poiy's accident happened when he went into the rice fields one day with some soldiers. The soldiers ALWAYS let the children walk ahead of them so they could test out the road for mines. The children didn't know the danger of mines or that they where walking in a mined area. Poiy stepped on a landmine that lay on the road. He remembers being blown into the air by the explosion and landing on the road again. His friend tried to carry Poiy to the hospital. Later, a farmer brought him to the hospital on his ox-cart picked him up. They drove for two hours.

Anders and Poiy (with one leg) are discussing the different kinds of land mines that are used in Cambodia and how they are working. Click to enlarge.When he was in the hospital, the Khmer Rouge soldiers were fighting the Vietnamese at night. Poiy's leg was badly injured and needed removing. A Khmer Rouge doctor amputated his leg using a wood saw. He tore Poiy's clothes and used them as bandages to stop the bleeding. The doctor put a piece of cloth in Poiy's mouth, so that the Vietnamese soldiers couldn't hear his screams of pain.

Once at home again, Poiy was left alone while his family went out fighting. Injured and at the age of six he had to collect his own food and defend himself. On one occasion he was in the house with two friends. They were faced with a tiger that was looking for food. At the age of six, Poiy didn't know how to use an AK-47 properly but knew enough to be able to shoot the gun so that the sound scared it away. He had to do the same again in the evening when it returned.

The Belgium Handicap International organization told Poiy about Aka Ra and he has now been living at The Landmine Museum since March 2003.

Poiy's family decided not to send him to school because they thought it would be a waste of money. They thought that because he was injured he wouldn't be able to anything productive in the future. Now, however, he goes to Khmer school. Because he joined school at such a late age Poiy, who is fourteen, is only in the second grade and his classmates are eight years old. He is studying English at The Landmine Museum and wants to be a tour guide when is older.

Poiy is a really good hunter and his parents want him to return home so he can go into the jungle and collect food for them. His mother is an alcoholic and he wouldn't be able to go to school if he returned. Poiy wants to stay at Aki Ra so he can learn how to read and write Khmer."

Of course we visited Angkor Wat but that's another story

Kisses from EvAnders