So… I had been searching for a cause to align my business with. I strongly believe in giving back and creating a ‘WHY’ beyond your current circumstances and environment.
Yes, of course my children, clients, friends and family no doubt provide a big part of my ‘WHY’, but I’m a big picture kind of girl and wanted something more that I could do to make a difference in the world.
Gosh, there are so many ‘causes’ out there. Credible, legitimate and worthy causes that could use more support and funds. But I wanted something I could really connect with. Something that resonated within me and I could personally identify wth.
Then recently I was reminded of a trip I had taken with my children to Cambodia and Laos., five years ago now.
I remember how confronting it was and the impact it had upon all of us.
In Laos we learnt about the awful and immense problem of UXO, unexploded ordnance.
Something that I was completely oblivious to.
Taken from the website http://www.uxolao.org/index.php/en/the-uxo-problem
“Lao PDR has the unwanted distinction of being per capita the most heavily bombed nation in the world. Between the years 1964 and 1973, the United States flew more than half a million bombing missions, delivering more than two million tons of explosive ordnance, in an attempt to block the flow of North Vietnamese arms and troops through Laotian territory. The ordnance dropped include more than 266 million submunitions (known as “bombies” in Laos) released from cluster bombs.
It is estimated that up to 30% of all ordnance did not explode. Such unexploded ordnance (UXO) continues to remain in the ground, maiming and killing people, and hindering social-economic development and food security.”
The visit to the UXO centre really unnerved me. I couldn’t believe this 1) happened in the first place and 2) was just hidden and left without a concerted effort by the west to clean it up. Kids still get blown up picking up the ‘bombies’ that look like black balls.
Naively, I thought it was just that, a museum.
It is far from it, believe me and it has stayed etched in my memory ever since. Every bit of it.
When we arrived, we read the story of Aki Ra, a Khmer man and his heartbreaking yet incredibly inspiring life and work…. no words can describe here what this man has endured and yet now dedicates himself to. I’ll leave that for you to research if you feel the desire.
Whilst walking around the ‘museum’, educating ourselves and observing hundreds of artifacts, we met Bill. Another truly inspiring man.
From what I remember of our conversation, I’ll relay as much … and hopefully, as accurately as I can.
Bill is part of the U.S Army, of a rank I can no longer recall, but Senior Sergeant, Commander… (I clearly don’t know a lot about Army talk), something along those lines would be pretty close.
It turns out he was asked to spend some time in Cambodia, training up and providing certifiable qualifications to help others (beyond Aki-Ra) to continue to help clear the landmines in Cambodia, of which there are estimated to still be around 5 million. Yep… you read right. 5 Million!
Bill did go and he spent time helping train and clear mines and saw, first hand the extensive and immense task that would be required to hopefully one day rid this country of.
When it came time to head home he was torn. He struggled to just ‘walk away’.
His wife, a school teacher and clearly a beautiful soul like Bill, was supportive of Bills desire to stay and be a part of eradicating the hideous mines from this country. She suggested they could easily give up their comfortable life in Palm Springs, California to focus on building a better future for Cambodia.
Her skills could also be utilised. To bring education to Cambodia’s poverty stricken, orphaned and destitute children.
Hello!! What an awesome couple! Whilst many their age have retired and spend their days playing golf or traveling across the country in motor homes, here they are clearing mines, educating children and providing University scholarships. In 2016, they have five students attending University in Siem Reap.
When I asked Bill how far away from where we were standing was the closest uncleared mine field, he replied, ‘oh, about 40km’s that way’.
Holy hell! That’s not far! It may have been less, it was five years ago now, but whatever the figure, it highlighted the huge problem still existing in Cambodia today.
Bill and his beautiful wife are still there today and continue to do the work they were called to do.
It was because of this defining trip in my life that I have decided to donate 5% of all retreat & private coaching fees to both these amazing organisations and their continued dedication to a job that at times must almost seem insurmountable.
That’s making a difference.
From the Cambodian LandMine Museum website:
You can check out my upcoming RETREAT by CLICKING the image below: