There used to be more land mines in Cambodia than there were human beings. Even today someone in the world is killed or maimed by a land mine every 20 minutes. It's terrorism in slow motion.
Cambodia also has an inordinate number of kids who've had polio. One of the polio patients at the VVAF-run rehabilitation clinic I visited was a 12-year-old girl who had crawled her entire life. Through intense physical therapy, she learned to walk with canes. But when she went back to her village for a Buddhist holiday, she needed a wheelchair. So a couple of people from the clinic and I went to deliver it. I remember thinking, I'm on the Mekong River in a speedboat with awheelchair strapped to the back, going to a tiny village in Cambodia. And in that instant, I saw the horrible things that we, as a species, are capable of, but I also saw how human beings can plug into the better angels of their nature.
I met so many people who devote their lives to making other lives better. Though I wasn't one of the ones rolling up my sleeves doing the work, I felt very humbled just to be there.
Emmylou Harris's new album, Stumble into Grace (Nonesuch), is a collection of her latest songs. For more information about the VVAF, go to vvaf.org.