Aki Ra Saves Countless Lives the Hard Way
Aki Ra was kidnapped from his family at the age of 5 (roughly -- Ra is unsure of his precise age) by the Khmer Rouge, a genocidal paramilitary group in Cambodia. He was given mine-planting duty, because a child's small hands are more suited to the delicate work of planting murder-bombs, and we really hope that's the most depressing sentence we have to write this week. What sounds like objectively the worst childhood in history continued until 1983, when Ra was captured by the Vietnamese Army, who quickly ... made him do exactly the same thing, but for them. Just file that away in your head to be remembered the next time you feel disappointed by literally anything.
It wasn't until 1992, when the U.N. came to Cambodia, that Ra saw a chance to undo the damage he'd been forced to do as a kid. Working with the U.N. bomb defusers, Ra began digging up the old mines that he had planted -- and continued doing so after the U.N. left two years later, declaring a job well done. This will become hilarious in a second.
The places you can find these mines include villages and farmland that the owners are eager to reclaim and start growing food on but can't because mines play hell on the soil aeration and also blow you the fuck up. Deminers like Aki Ra play an important role because they make land habitable again, but it's tough work: There's an estimated 4 to 6 million unexploded mines in Cambodia. And "shifting" mines is a tough, multi-person job: The most successful deminers employ 1,000 people and can still only remove about 3,000 landmines per month.
Unless, of course, you know them intimately, like Aki Ra, who has removed over 50,000 mines all by himself and without the approved U.N. equipment. He was digging up mines with a knife and his bare hands, and it wasn't until 2005 that Ra went to Britain to actually get trained to do the thing he'd been doing since he was a little kid. Basically, he got around to fulfilling safety regulations when there was a lull in his daily life-saving.
A Perfect Soldier
Between saving lives by being in constant mortal peril and the ensuing sexual exhaustion, who has the time?
Now, not only does he continue to clear mines as his full-time job, but he runs a museum that educates people about the still existing mines while housing homeless children, many of whom have been injured by the same mines that Ra is working every day to remove. So, yeah, thanks for making us feel shitty about our own accomplishments there, Ra.
Homeland Security News Wire
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J.F. Sargent is a workshop moderator for Cracked. You can follow him on Twitter and read his Tumblr blog. Dustin Koski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. But be careful. He bites every fourth time he's contacted.
For more soldiers who need their own movies, check out 5 Real Life Soldiers Who Make Rambo Look Like a Pussy and 5 Of the Most Badass Soldiers Ever (Happened to be Dogs).
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