From the good life to digging up land mines in Cambodia
While living in Palm Springs, Calif., with retirement looming, Bill Morse chose to move to Cambodia to help activist Aki Ra rid the country of land mines that kill and maim.
(Page 3 of 3)
"Working with Bill Morse is a truly humbling experience," Mr. Rahman says. "He understands the fabric of the culture very well and is very astute at facing and solving problems with great attention to the needs of the villages and people we serve. Bill is selfless.... It has been a pleasure to work with [him], and I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"I can't end war or bring on world peace," Morse says. "But I can do something right here, right now, and I can make a difference."
Says Aki Ra: "He's like my brother or my father. Everything is much better with him here."
The partnership seems to work well for both men: "We're both pragmatic idealists," Morse says, though neither man is big on making grand plans. "You miss too many opportunities if you're stuck with a plan," Morse says.
While others might impulsively take a long weekend off, these two men are more likely to impulsively build a school. "We don't seek out all of the stuff we do; sometimes it just happens, and it's hard to say no," Morse says. "When you're surrounded by 130 kids [standing] beside their blown-down school, and Aki Ra says to me, 'Well, are you going to tell them they can't have a new one?' No! I can't do that!"
That's the idealism. The pragmatism means they make sure every school they build is properly equipped, with the teachers' salaries paid.
For now, Morse has no plans to return to the US. But he and Aki Ra do have some ideas for the future, including expanding the number of children they support, training more deminers, and setting up a village for the elderly in need.
Morse says he once asked Aki Ra when he'd stop doing what he was doing:
"He looked at me like I was stupid. 'When my country is safe again,' he said."
Morse plans to be right there with him.
• For more information, visit www.cambodianselfhelpdemining.org.
Learn more / get involved
UniversalGiving (www.universalgiving.org) helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations worldwide. Projects are vetted by UniversalGiving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause.
To help in Cambodia, UniversalGiving recommends the following:
• Globe Aware promotes cultural awareness and sustainability. Project: Help land mine victims at Wat Bo temple complex in Cambodia.
• Sign up to receive a weekly selection of practical and inspiring Change Agent articles by clicking here.