The Cambodian Landmine Museum has re-opened, but it needs help. The effects of of the pandemic have been devastating on the economy, causing countless businesses, hotels, and restaurants to permanently close their doors. The Landmine Museum, founded by Aki Ra, a former Khmer Rouge child soldier and CNN Top Ten Hero, was not immune to this. The lack of tourism has made it nearly impossible to keep the museum’s door’s open, and the stream of revenue that was comfortably funding its operations, as well as demining and EOD operations across Cambodia barely exists. The work that the Landmine Museum, Aki Ra, and Cambodia Self-Help Demining (CSHD) accomplishes has benefited tens of thousands of people for the past 25 years in Cambodia.
The Landmine Museum used to draw as many as 200 tourists a day. Today, with the dearth of tourists it is lucky to draw 20 a week. It cannot survive without our help.
This is why we need your help, to assist the museum in weathering the storm of this pandemic, and to keep an absolute minimum amount of staff at the museum to ensure that it can survive. We estimate that it takes only $2,000 a month to keep the museum afloat with the minimal number of expenses that we need to meet, and our goal is to survive until tourism returns.
The Landmine Museum is not just a tourist destination, but it is the home of Aki Ra, of his wife and their kids who were raised there. It is the site of decades of humanitarian work that has saved countless lives, supported children and education throughout the country, and has documented and raised awareness of the horrors of landmines and other remnants of war that still litter Cambodia.
What does your donation go to?
The money that you send to this GoFundMe account will be sent to the Landmine Relief Fund (LMRF), an American registered 501c charity that has supported and worked closely with Aki Ra, the Landmine Museum, CSHD, and other projects in Cambodia since 2003. Every dollar that is donated to LMRF through this GoFundMe goes directly to the Landmine Museum to ensure its survival.
For the past ten years, the Landmine Museum has been extremely profitable and self-sustaining. As a must stop destination for anyone traveling to Cambodia, it was able to routinely raise enough money to run all operations, pay its employees a living wage, and even donate $25,000 a year to CSHD- the completely Cambodian run demining and EOD organization founded by Aki Ra himself.
But during the hardships that have been brought on by the pandemic, our goal for this fundraiser is only to help it survive with the absolute minimum number of staff and expenses necessary. In an effort to lower costs, even Aki Ra himself has cut his salary in half. Funds will be used to keep up with utilities and general costs. This includes a medley of assorted maintenance costs; we must care for the infrastructure, exhibits, and facilities of the museum to ensure that it can once again open.
Even though the museum is currently not taking in any revenue, financial reports still need to be submitted, and a staff member paid to be able to manage regular bookkeeping. We also must maintain sufficient security at the museum; one guard during the day, and two at night. There is a lot of valuable equipment and devices at the museum, and countless sentimental items and artifacts on display. We have had incidents in the past where valuables were stolen from the museum and have found that security is an essential expense.
Who is Aki Ra?
Aki Ra is an internationally recognized figure who has dedicated his life to making Cambodia, his native land, safe from the horrors of landmines. Born in 1970, and taken from his family by the Khmer Rouge at the age of 5, he fought for the many different armies that ravaged Cambodia for nearly 35 years. In the early 1990’s he went to work for the UN clearing landmines around Angkor Wat. He decided that demining would become his trade and returned to the villages where he had fought, removing landmines that were killing and maiming his fellow Khmers.
His Cambodian Landmine Museum and Relief Center, established in 2007, cares for dozens of at-risk children. They are housed, cared for, and educated. Today he runs a demining NGO called Cambodian Self Help Demining. Along with the other demining NGOs in the country, he is making his country safe for his people. As of 2021, his team has cleared over 231 minefields in small villages and put over 40,000 people back on land that was, in every sense of the word, killing them. In 2010, he was named a CNN Top 10 Hero out of 10,000 nominees. In 2010, a movie, A Perfect Soldier, was made about his life. In 2012, he was a recipient of the Manhae Prize, by the Manhae Foundation in Korea. Today his two NGOs, The Cambodian Landmine Museum and Cambodian Self Help Demining, are recognized around the world as examples of what one person can accomplish, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.
For More Information
You can read more about the work done by Aki Ra, The Landmine Museum, Cambodia Self-Help Demining, and the Landmine Relief Fund at the links below. We also have multiple documentaries made to show you exactly what we do in Cambodia and the effort to make the country safer for generations to come. With your help we can continue to complete our work and affect the lives of countless people in Cambodia.
None of this is done alone.
A Perfect Soldier - The Story of Aki Ra Demining in Cambodia
Until They're Gone – The Story of The Landmine Relief Fund (Now Free on YouTube)