In this amazing tale of heroism, former Khmer Rouge conscripted child soldier, Aki Ra is now working to clear landmines in his native Cambodia, many of which he planted himself many years ago.
Since 1993, Aki Ra and his organization named "Cambodian Self Help Demining" has helped clear approximately 50,000 mines and unexploded weapons. His remarkable story is now being nominated for CNN Heroes 2010, a program designed to highlight community efforts in their respective societies.
Last year, Asia Society's Hong Kong center hosted Aki Ra and documented his background. At age five, Aki Ra lost his parents to land mines and went to live in the jungle with other children who had suffered similar fates. At 12, he was forced to join the Khmer Rouge army, depositing between 100 and 1,000 land mines a day.
After three decades of conflict, Cambodia has one of the world's worst land mine problems, with many mines still active. Upon escaping the wrath of the Khmer Rouge army, Aki Ra was inspired by the work of United Nations to defuse and de-commission explosive devices using just a knife, without any protective equipment. Much of it now is being displayed at the Cambodia Land Mine Museum.
With so many mines still intact, Aki Ra's story must remind the world that Cambodia still suffers. To read more details about Aki Ra's amazing quest to make Cambodia's high risk areas safer for people, click here.
Watch Aki Ra on how he became a child soldier for the Khmer Rouge below: (1 min., 50 sec.)