Our vision is to rescue Cambodia from the legacy of landmines by healing damaged communities and helping villages become whole and self-sustaining.
Constant stories in the international press tell about the many thousands of Cambodians killed, maimed, and hurt by landmines. They provide reminders of the visible suffering in the countryside. But beyond the death and pain, Cambodians suffer in ways less visible to the outside world.
Landmines create enormous economic and social suffering: beautiful farmland turned into minefields cripples local economies in a society of local economies. Minefields limit access to the forests and water that were formerly sources of Cambodian prosperity, and restrict the local travel that before made rural Cambodia socially vibrant and economically self-sufficient.
In the past, a prosperous Cambodia regularly fed its neighbors, producing hundreds of thousands of tons of rice and other crops for export. Now, because of landmines, Cambodians cannot even produce enough to feed themselves. They plead for food, and are forced to work in slave-like conditions to ensure a minimal survival.
International aid has focused on the visible suffering of the direct victims of landmines. For less visible economic suffering, help typically takes the form of assisting Cambodians to join the sweatshop culture of the Third World, or financing and organizing the production of overpriced tourist trinkets purchased out of guilt. Meanwhile, families decay and communities disintegrate.
In the Rescue Cambodia project, AVCLM proposes a simpler approach, one that will not rely on consumer passions or the guilt of the industrialized world – a village-based approach that was developed through discussions with rural Cambodians.