2015 CAMBODIA FIELD TRIP
Writer Ted Mlynarz
“A New Beginning to help those displaced across borders and stranded without support”
The 2015 mission took place from the 1st to 8th August 2015 and was committed to helping disadvantaged and displaced people of Vietnamese origin who now live in Cambodia. A new identity, Australian Health & Humanitarian Aid (AHHA) was established to enable the group to work outside of Vietnam and provide similar medical, dental, optometry and humanitarian services to those in need no matter where they may be located. This was the first mission under the new banner, and the success of this mission provides encouragement for future missions.
The 2015 Mission arrived in Siem Reap late on Saturday 1st August and settled into the hotel accommodation to ensure an early start the next day.
Phase 1 Following familiarisation and some sightseeing on the first morning, the team held a site visit with the Lotus Kids’ Club (LKC) officials to plan and organise the medical mission for the next three days. The Lotus Kids’ Club is operated by the Senhoa Foundation, a US based non-profit organisation that supports a women’s shelter and an early intervention and community engagement program in Siem Reap. The programs include:
- The Pre-School Program for families with the greatest need in the community
- Primary School Sponsorship for graduates of the LKC Pre-school Program
- Family Development Program for immediate family of students in the LKC Program
The overall objectives include:
- Engaging with children, youth and families
- Advocate the importance of education
- Educate on the dangers of human trafficking and domestic violence
- Conduct workshops on water sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, relationships, community issues, child development and more
- Conduct regular/continual home visits to support families and track children’s progress in school.
For 2 days the AHHA team of medical, dental and optometry professionals and the administration and support group, worked tirelessly examining the students of LKC and their families. During this period, 545 patients were processed and each family was provided with food parcels consisting of 10kg of rice, canned fish and condiments such as fish and soya sauce.
On the last day at Siem Reap, a graduation ceremony took place and each graduate was presented with a bicycle, helmet, and a school pack consisting of a back pack, books and a new school uniform.
The food parcels and graduate gifts were all courtesy of Vietnam Vision and AHHA.
Kampong Chhnang province
Siem Riep province
Phase 2 of the mission was undertaken at the Tonle Sap Lake Floating Village near Kampong Chhnang where in one day (6Aug15) 350 patients were examined by medical, dental and optometry teams. Food parcels (20kg rice) and children’s gift packs (books, face cloth, pens, soap, toothpaste etc) were also distributed.
Phase 3 took place in the isolated village of Kandal, still in the Kampong Chhnang area. Due to local flooding, the river crossing to the village was awash and the drivers were reluctant to attempt a crossing. As a result, a trip down river was organised and all volunteers, equipment and supplies were transported by boat where 180 patients were examined and 1000 food parcels distributed.
Due to a lack of facilities, dental examinations and procedures were not possible during Phase 3.
Overall, 1075 patients were examined in 3 locations over 4 working days. The other days consisted of setting up, dismantling and travelling from one location to the next.
Arrangements have been concluded with local hospitals and medical facilities, where patients who were considered to require further treatment, will be admitted and treated accordingly and the treatments with be funded by AHHA and Vietnam Vision from the donations, contributions and sponsorships which have been generously provided by the community.
The success of the mission has provided valuable information and contacts within Cambodia where future missions will expand the services to include cataract operations.