Aki Ra, leader of the nonprofit Cambodian Self Help Demining team, works to make his country more safe by clearing land mines on a daily basis. He estimates that he and his team have cleared more than 50,000 land mines -- some of which he planted himself.
At around age ten, Aki Ra was selected by the Khmer Rouge to lay land mines in and around his village. Over the next three years Aki Ra must have planted some 4,000 to 5,000 land mines in a single month.
"I had [bad] feelings, because sometimes we were fighting against our friends and relatives," Aki Ra said. "I felt sad when I saw a lot of people were killed. A lot of people were suffering from landmines. [But] I did not know what to do, [because] we were under orders."
The CNN Hero nominee formed the Cambodian Demining Self Help team in 2008 and continues to work with local Cambodians, former soldiers and war crime victims.
CNN's "Heroes" series honors individuals who make extraordinary contributions to helping others. In November, one CNN Hero will be chosen to receive a large sum of money to continue his/her work. Last year's winner was Efren Pe<&>#241;>aflorida.