Sometimes it becomes easy to accept defeat or not try to change because it is usually easier to 'accept fate' and not to take responsibility, make the effort or make things different. That requires work, but there is reward for those that do.
Aki Ra was a child soldier for the Khmer Rouge. As a teen he changed sides and fought with the Vietnamese troops against Khmer Rouge forces. In those years he learnt a lot about landmines. He planted many himself.
Cambodia today, is covered in over 5,000,000 landmines, and the same again in UXO (unexploded ordinance). Once the war was over, Aki Ra returned to the villages where he'd laid mines, and began to painstakingly, and slowly remove them, one by one. He did this on his own, with his wife and uncle, and with his home made tools.
In Cambodia, one person out of every 290 will be a victim to landmines or UXO, so in these villages, there were many child victims of the mines. Aki Ra and his wife started to take them home to care for them, raising them with their own children.
To raise money for the work they were doing, they opened a little museum in their home. Over time this grew, evolving into the current facility, The Cambodian Landmine Museum and School. The school now houses over 3 dozen children, not just landmine victims but those with physical, emotional and family difficulties.
Landmine Museum School and Orphanage - you can make a donation http://www.cambodialandminemuseum.org/apps/donations/
Aki Ra started an NGO (non government organisation), Cambodian Self Help Demining and his team became bigger. Aki Ra has personally removed 50, 000 land mines. In 2006 the UN told him his method was too dangerous, so he stopped. However, a year later he retrained in the UN safety approved methods and to this day, continues his work.
The CSHD removes land mines from 'low priority' villages, making it safe for those not represented by the big organisations.
I tell this story because one person can change who they are, none of us have to accept that our past defines us. He may've been part of the great machine that laid the mines, he may have done things as a child soldier that we dare not imagine, but he has worked tirelessly to make a difference to the lives of many. Both the orphanage and the work clearing the landmines has changed thousands of lives for the better.
We have all done things we aren't proud of or have traits we wished we didn't, but on any day we can make a change and start to make things better.
None of us should have to live a life dictated by the past. I'm not saying it's easy, and that you won't stumble along the way, but think of Aki Ra, and persist. There is a saying "Life may not be going well for you now, but as long as you are here, as long as you press forward, anything is possible." (Unknown)
What a moving story, thank you so much for posting this....I think I needed to read it today to remind myself that I have so many choices I can make to create a positive future. with many thanks, Linda Duffey