The Cambodia Landmine Museum is a unique museum located near Banteay Srei, northeast of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The museum was founded by Aki Ra, a former child soldier during the Khmer Rouge era who leads a group called Cambodian Self Help Demining, which has a mission of raising awareness of problem of landmines and go from place to place in rural Cambodia to clear the landmines that are still on the ground and can cause risk of injuring or killing someone when accidentally stepped on. These are landmines and unexploded ordnances left from the Vietnam War and Khmer Rouge years — there is still estimated around three million of these still to be cleared in Cambodia. The museum has exhibit that tells the life story of Aki Ra (who received CNN Top 10 Hero for 2010 award for his work), and educates the public about the problem that Cambodia is still facing as the result of the landmines that need to be cleared. The proceeds from the museum admission ticket goes towards funding the demining work and an orphanage set up to care for children who were victims of landmines.
We stopped at the Cambodia Landmine Museum after our visit to Banteay Srei. Our tour guide Vanna told us we had about an hour or so to visit the museum and look around. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. We started the visit with watching a short video explaining the problem of landmines in Cambodia. Since we started very early that day, by then (close to noon time) I was a bit tired, and I dozed off a little bit during the video presentation. But I did get the gist of the presentation. Then we spent the rest of our visit looking at the displays, which include artwork/sculpture done using the shells of disarmed mines. When we saw the display, these shells looked like little toys. No wonder that they looked interesting to little children in Cambodian villages who found them in the field while playing, and ended up causing death or kids losing their limbs to explosion. Definitely give a new perspective on the impact of war to a society, even years after the war was over.
The photo below was taken at the museum while we’re visiting. The middle display had shells of disarmed mines inside.