Saturday, August 25, 2007

Packin' for PP

Well, a lot has happened since November.

Aki Ra’s new museum opened on April 24th, thanks to the dedicated work of Richard Fitoussi, and the support of Tom Shadyac - without whose help the Museum would never have been completed. It’s beautiful. There are dorms for the kids, room for them to play and study and there’s a real showplace for Aki Ra to tell the world what he does, and what we don’t always want to hear. And best of all – it’s been certified by the Cambodian Government as an NGO!

The Landmine Relief Fund is now teaming with the Cambodian Landmine Museum Relief Fund, founded by Richard Fitoussi, and Project Enlighten, founded by Asad Rahman and Olivia Lorge to help Aki Ra continue his work and to assist the children he brings home to raise as his own. Project Enlighten will offer college or trade school scholarships and micro loans to kids who finish the Cambodian State School curriculum. The Landmine Relief Fund is sponsoring all of the mine clearing work that Aki Ra performs. And we are all working under the umbrella of the Cambodian Landmine Museum.

In November Aki Ra travels from nice, warm Cambodia to the crisp English countryside to take his Level III training at the International School for Security and Explosives Education near Basingstoke. (He completed Level II training last year). This training will certify him to international standards not only as a deminer, but as a trainer and supervisor of deminers. Now he can not only clear mines by himself, but he can train demining teams to do his work on a much broader scale. He expects to get his demining license by the end of the year.

The LMRF is paying for his schooling, and his transportation at a cost of $10,000.

Thank you all for your support.

We also intend to field our 1st demining team in the first quarter of 2008. At a cost of $50,000.
We intend to field 2 more teams by the end of 2008. At a cost of $100,000.

Thank you for your continuing support!

Well, it’s Friday night here in Palm Springs. The weather is gorgeous, well maybe a little warm at 106. I’ve been working like a madman all week trying to get things together for my trip to Cambodia next week. I leave here Thursday at 5:55pm and fly to San Francisco where I board a China Southern flight to Taipei. Then I fly from Taipei to Phnom Penh and get in at 10am Saturday morning.

I’ve got some meetings set up at the American Embassy on Tuesday the 4th. I’ll be meeting with the USAID Officer. A friend of mine from the Adventurer’s Club of Los Angeles was asking me to find out about establishing a recycling center in Cambodia. Most of the trash is recycled in either Vietnam or Thailand these days. Families pilfer the garbage dumps of Phnom Penh and sell their ‘finds’ for pennies. If there were a recycle center in PP it could help a lot of people.

Wednesday the 5th I head to Siem Reap. I can’t wait to get there and get started on putting together the organizational plan for Aki Ra Demining Team Number 1.

More as things happen.

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