National Geographic : 2012 Jan
• At ve in the a ernoon, he picks up his young daughter from school, then goes out for another run. His e orts have paid o . Nine times in recent years, Mao has won the Angkor Wat International arti cial leg ten- kilometer foot race, part of the Angkor Wat In- ternational Half Marathon, which was founded in 1996 to help land mine survivors. He doesn't run just to win races. Running has calmed his mind. He used to get headaches from thinking too much about the past. "Now I focus on making a living for just one day, on eating for one day," he says, almost smiling. Mao was a 15-year-old farm boy in 1987 when he was kidnapped by the Khmer Rouge. Soldiers dragged him away from his family into the jungle near the Thai border, forcing him to carry ammunition and refusing to feed him. One morning he spotted fruit beneath a tree. The next thing he remembers he was lying in the mud, blood everywhere. e tree had been booby-trapped. "I cannot nd any- thing to compare to the pain," whispers Mao. "I died there." ree days later, unconscious but alive, he was found by other soldiers, who carried him to a hospital across the border in ailand. Doc- tors amputated his leg below the knee. Upon returning to Cambodia, he began vocational training sponsored by Handicap International. at's where he met Ouch Vun, his future wife. Today the couple live in central Phnom Penh with their daughter and ten other tenants. eir corrugated metal shack is set on stilts above a swamp with oating garbage. Inside, the walls are papered with pages from a pop culture Students at an elementary school in Battambang Province (right) learn life-and-limb-saving rules by arranging cartoons in the best order to illustrate the hazards of land mines. Most sequences end with a reball. At a Battam- bang hospital, an x-ray of a child's amputated legs (above) shows that his bones are still growing, making it painful for him to wear a prosthesis.