Gary Christ is a 57 year old father of one who was raised on a farm in Crystal Lake, Illinois, USA. He learned welding and mechanics from his late father, Bill, who also was an inventor. His first patent was the Shel-ome, a low cost modular housing system that was used successfully for many years. Since 1989 he has been inventing methods to help the poorest people.
In February 2001, he first visited Cambodia as a volunteer. He came at the request of his Pastor to install septic systems at orphanges.
In 2005 a landmine was discovered where he was asked to excavate. This dramatically changed his focus. After witnessing the plight of the landmine victims in Cambodia, he set his mind to develop a better method of landmine extermination. The PeaceHammer is the solution! It is a "green machine" built from mostly recycled steel. It uses much less energy and also has a much smaller carbon footprint than the massive mechanical demining machines presently used. The PeaceHammer will be remote controlled, so it will be safe to operate. His unique design makes it simple to construct.
Ffate found him in Siem Reap where he met the director of Angkor Association for the Disabled (AAD), Sem Sovantha, a double amputee. He has been very successful in leading dozens of disabled beggars to self-sufficiency through housing, skill training, and employment. Sovantha was recently honored by the King of Cambodia for his outstanding service to the poor.
Now he travels to Cambodia every winter to work directly with disabled Cambodians. He assists them in finding shelter. He also aids them in finding jobs by promoting their talents. Additionally, he supports orphanages by installing sanitation systems to reduce sickness and disease.
As his men fanned out into a deserted Khmer Rouge camp, Captain Sem Sovantha paused to kick aside a bag lying at his feet. What happened next on that otherwise unremarkable day in 1990 will be forever etched in his memory.
"I remember when it exploded. It wasn't noisy; it was like a small 'boom'. I flew into the air with smoke everywhere and I could taste the bitterness of the TNT in my mouth."
The anti-personnel mine buried underneath the bag cost Sem both of his legs and ended his military career, but he counts himself lucky to have survived. "I thought I was dead. When I could see again I realised one of my legs was gone and one was limp," he says.
Today Sem heads the Angkor Association for the Disabled (AAD). Cambodian Sem Sovantha is the founder and director of AAD. It is a Cambodian NGO (Non-Government Organization). His mission is to provide long term help to fellow disabled people. He has been very successful in leading dozens of disabled beggars to self-sufficiency through housing, skill training, and employment. Sovantha was recently honored by the King of Cambodia for his outstanding service to the poor.