Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Story I Never Forgot

One night as I listened to the BBC I heard the story of a gentleman and gentle man from Cambodia named Akira. If I am misspelling his name I respectfully ask his pardon.

As a child, under the Pol Pot regime, he was shown how to set land mines and told he could do this or die. He did as he was told.

As only a slightly older child, he was told by Vietnamese forces that he could set land mines for Them or die. He did so. It was not uncommon for a person's family, even a child's family, to be harmed in order to ensure the child's obedience.

As an adult Akira dedicated his life to the removal of all of the land mines from his country. Others might have forgiven him as he was only a child when he set them, under threat of death and harm to those he loved.

But this remarkable man Chose to take responsibility for what he was Forced to do, and spend Years Undoing it. He not only removed land mines, risking his life Voluntarily every day, he set up a museum of land mines. The purpose of his museum was to teach anyone who didn't know, what different land mines looked like, especially children. He taught them to throw a stick, from a safe distance, into anything resembling the land mines in his museum. And he taught the children what terrible damage a land mine could do, so they would take his instruction seriously, protecting themselves and their friends.

He Could have said it wasn't his fault, and it wasn't. But he chose to heal where he had been Forced to cause harm.

His voice was calm, gentle, and soft, as he explained what he did and why. He wanted help with his museum. He did Not dwell on the horrors caused him or his countrymen during those years of war.

This is another story I have never forgotten and I hope it encourages You to do something, anything, to help someone. It has encouraged me.

I wish, when I hear such stories that the reporters who bring them to us would Also say how We who hear their words can help.

But there Are enough people all around us with whom we can share a phone call, a card or E-mail of encouragement, a fan, food, a coat or blanket, or any special skills that we may possess. Men like Akira just encourage us to do this, not by their words, but by their Examples.

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