Nheb's farm is thriving since APOPO cleared the land

How APOPO is transforming Houn Nheb’s Village

Last year, APOPO’s supporters made a significant step towards safety and development through a fundraising campaign that raised over $30,000. This has contributed to APOPO’s efforts to deploy landmine detection rats (aka HeroRATs) in collaboration with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) to clear landmines in rural Cambodia most affected, including the village where Houn Nheb and his family live. 

Our mission at APOPO is not just about removing landmines; it’s about restoring hope and rebuilding the lives of people living with the shadow of landmines. We want to share with you an update from Houn Nheb and his community, whose lives have been directly impacted by our work. Although there is still work to be done to make the village completely safe, large tracts of land have been cleared of landmines and it’s a story of resilience, hope, and transformation.

Houn Nheb’s Story

“I’m Houn Nheb. My wife, Sang Pot, and I, we’ve lived through hard times because of landmines. We have 4 kids. My first wife died, and now with Sang Pot, we work hard to make ends meet. We farm and raise cows, but it’s tough. Half our land couldn’t be used, as it was full of dangerous landmines. We lost cows to mines before. It’s scary, you know. Every step could be your last.

A while back, one of our cows stepped on a mine. Boom! Just like that, it was gone. It happened close by while I was just catching frogs. We lost three cows that day. It’s not just the animals that are in danger; I got hurt by a landmine too, years ago. My brother and I were out in the fields, and he triggered a trip wire. A mine exploded. I was injured, but he didn’t make it. It was a very sad time. It’s tough, living with this fear all the time. 

What I went through left a scar on my heart. Cases like my brother’s are still haunting nightmares for all the villagers. Every one of us was afraid to cross into the “West Side” of the village known as the “Old Road”. This road contained a lot of hidden explosives from the Khmer Rouge period. Although we couldn’t recall where they had been laid, we knew that there were tons of them there. We moved around full of anxiety, we farmed full of anxiety, and most importantly, we lived full of anxiety. It was a living prison that we were all trapped in after the war.

Nheb takes a break with his wife

Thankfully, APOPO came to our village. Though I had never seen one of the HeroRATs at work when they came, I trusted the animal’s ability very much and would also like to thank APOPO wholeheartedly for all the hard work they have been doing. Although the clearance is not on my land yet, the grazing fields that my cows cross are safe. I am very glad I don’t have to worry that I will lose my animals again. What’s more, I will probably be able to raise more cows as they can roam this land freely.

My fellow villagers, especially the owners of the land, can’t stop smiling. They say that traveling is now very free and farming is now very prosperous. Everything is now very productive. There’s still more work to do, but we have hope. Our kids, the village, we can see a future where we’re not living scared of every step.”

The Impact of Our Supporters’ Generosity

Through Houn’s story, we can see the tangible impact of our supporters’ generosity. The progress we’ve made together is life-changing for many families, yet our work is far from over. More land awaits clearance, and with it, the promise of a safer, more prosperous future for Houn’s village and many others like it. Your continued support is crucial in our ongoing mission to clear every last landmine and give back the freedom to live without fear.

Thank you for being part of this journey of hope and transformation.