Of the sixteen on tour of Cambodia, only five of us jammed our booties into the back of a tuk tuk to make our way to the Cambodia Landmine Museum within the Angkor Complex in Siem Reap. Unbeknownst to us, the wonderful American gentleman guiding a tour around the museum was actually hired as a private guide for the tour just in front of us. Our bad. We still listened in until we realised our mistake, and learned some fascinating things about the landmine practices in Cambodia through their more challenging days.
I think the thing that stuck with me most was the sheer purpose of a landmine in warfare: the idea was to maim, not kill, because treating a wounded soldier required more manpower than did leaving behind a dead one. Sadly, after the war, the landmines still littered Cambodia, causing great problems in small villages who found their land unusable. Thankfully the Cambodia Landmine Museum now tells the story of its founder and of the history of landmines in Cambodia as they support government projects to clear landmines. The difference for the people is astounding. Should you find yourself in Siem Reap, I highly recommend checking out the museum, or you could go to their website to find out more about their programs. I certainly emptied my wallet while I was there, and I may or may not have splurged on a cuff made of a brass shell. Hey, it’s for charity.
The Cambodian Landmine Museum aims to educate the world about the horrors of landmines and their founder’s story, while supporting a number of children living in their care, providing education and further tuition as needed. You might like to check out their Facebook page if you’ve got a chance.