Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Day in the Life

Tonight I was sitting in my hotel room watching television when I got a phone call from Aki Ra. We’d spent the day getting his visa at the US embassy in Phnom Penh and running errands in town. We’d finished a phone interview with Voice of America at 8pm and he and a friend finally got a chance to go to his favorite restaurant in town and have Chinese dumplings. I went back to the hotel to get some rest.

At 9:45 he called me. While eating dinner one of the waitresses had collapsed on the floor. She couldn’t move or speak. The owner simply picked her up and tossed her out the door, telling her if she couldn’t work, she couldn’t stay.

Aki Ra went outside, picked her up, got a taxi and took her to a clinic down the street. When I got there she’d been there 30 minutes. Seems she had been working long, long hours and had collapsed from exhaustion. The doctor had treated her, given her some medication and she was recovering. When I got there she sat up, crying, and thanked Aki Ra for his help.

Aki Ra had called one of her friends, who came to the clinic to be with her. She got her prescription filled, we paid the $7 bill and Aki Ra was taking her home to rest.

He’d had a serious conversation with the restaurant owner also.

He was bewildered that anyone would toss a human being into the street like a bag of garbage. He’s going to check on her the next couple of days while he waits for his visa to be prepared.

He'd never met her before in his life.

Makes me even happier I nominated him as a CNN Hero.


Saturday, October 9, 2010


Been a real hectic couple of weeks here. Last month Aki Ra got nominated as a CNN Top 10 Hero and things have started to take off.

CNN arrives next week to do some more filming. We'll be working at the Museum, in the mine field and around Siem Reap.

Then on the 16th of November Aki Ra and I travel to Los Angeles for the taping of the Tribute Show for 2010. It will be taped at the Shrine Auditorium and broadcast on Thanksgiving night at 8pm EST/PST on CNN.

This has been a real labor of love for me. I nominated Aki Ra, not really expecting him to be recognized. We've struggled for so long to get the Museum up and running, to get the demining team in the field, and to get people to recognize the problems that still exist...I just figured that my little submition would get shunted aside.

Then when he was chosen as one of the 25 to be featured on the website and promoted on TV I was just amazed.

At that point I really thought maybe we had a chance to tell the world about the work this guy and his friends are doing. When he made the 25, I felt confident he could make the 10.

Now it's up to you.

The 'winner' ( a really bad term) will be chosen by on-line voting. The winner last year got 2,500,000 votes.

You can vote for Aki Ra at: http://heroes.cnn.com/vote.aspx

And you can vote more than once.

Thank you CNN for recognizing my hero as one of your heroes.

Babu out