Aug. 2008

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Arun Sua s’dei,


Did anyone see where August went? It’s amazing how how fast a month can run. I hope you were able to enjoy the month and maybe even squeeze in another beach day or barbecue. Not quite sure where to start, but I guess the beginning is a good spot.

Well… the last couple days of July were devoted to finishing up our Translator Training for the Medical Clinic. So, there was charades or gesture vocabulary games with everything from; fever, headache, chills, upset stomach, and runny nose to joint pain and chest congestion etc. We also had dosage translation drills with “Take two three times a day.” and “Apply ointment to the affected area twice daily.” – Very exciting or funny anyway. And around day-3 we had some sitcom or ER worthy doctor, patient, translator role-plays with complaints ranging from toothache to foot fungus. The students were awesome. They worked very hard and ultimately did an incredible job at the clinic.

On July 29th , engines started and we headed out of Phnom Penh with over 100 staff and kids. Our caravan of two ton trucks, random four-wheel drives, our ambulance and dental van took about 5 hours to reach Pusat. The drive included some bumpy, dusty dirt roads, beautiful newly planted rice fields, and a half dozen thatched hut villages. For entertainment we had a good round of song singing, laughter related to someone bouncing off the roof as we hit another crater in the road, and for one stretch the ambulance playing some Khmer pop songs over the PA system. We got a few interesting, or indifferent, (I’m not sure) looks from the water buffalo as we passed by – maybe they don’t like pop.

From the 29th to August 3rd, everyone went to work turning the Prey Bey orphan home into a tent city complete with a registration area boasting bamboo turnstiles, a thatched roof stage and seating for 500, 21 doctor stations, a pharmacy as equally stocked as your average Walgreens, a blood-test lab, and six dental stations along with our dental van. Next to the dental section we had wound care and scabies units established. We also had two full kitchens turning out amazing Khmer and western food over wood-burning fires. Happy stomaches make a happy staff. First thing each morning and at the end of each day we walked down the dirt road, through a patch of jungle to swim/bathe, and do laundry in the river. The riverside was also relatively flat and provided a spot for the evening soccer matches, which were made particularly interesting due to the cows on the field that seemed undecided as to whose team they were on. Anyway, you can see that we pretty much had all we needed – work, food and entertainment – next came the patients for our clinic.

From August 4th to 10th the gates were open and everyday many came from towns and villages up to 100 miles away. They traveled by motorbike, cart and even walked great distances. You could see that each person was anxious to get medicines and medical attention that they may have never received in their lives.

Once through the gates people moved toward registration tables where their names and villages were collected as well as an initial triage done.

After registration individuals and families were able to sit and enjoy a variety of entertainment while they waited to see a doctor. They watched traditional music and dancing as well as contemporary comedy skits while also receiving prayer for the healing of their aches and pains.

When it was time to see a doctor each patient met with one of 13 medical professionals from the US and their translator, or one of six Cambodian doctors. Runners were sent from each doctor’s station to retrieve medicine from the pharmacy for each specific pain or ailment and, if needed, the lab completed any blood tests to determine if they had malaria, dengue, or diabetes among other possible illnesses.

Many patients were also in great need of dental care and were able to get that help from our staff of foreign and cambodian dentists. By the end of the clinic, our dental team had treated over 400 patients for everything from simple cavities to root canals.

Cuts and minor injuries can easily become infected here and thus much more serious problems. Our Wound Care and Scabies unit cleaned and dress countless cuts and scraps as well as loving bathed and brought smiles to the children suffering from scabies.

Over the six and half days that the clinic ran, we were able to care for over 8,000 patients. On our busiest day, doctors and dentists treated 1,907 people. Each day was pretty exhausting, but at the same time so incredible rewarding that there was always still enough energy to join our musicians for some dancing on the stage or have a good water fight down at the river. I’ve never experienced anything like this and I look forward to next years clinic – although I might need to start resting up for it now.

Warm Blankets: Not long after the medical clinic we had the great fun of having our Warm Blankets team here. Now, they had a non-stop schedule. There were visits to a half dozen orphan homes, late night call sessions to Home Sponsors back in the states to give them real-time updates, a road-trip to Angkor, taking 50+ kids to see an international kick boxing competition, an another day taking 50+ to the new Sovana shopping mall. Phew……..

Kids’ Library:

Our books arrived at the same time as the Warm blankets team, which was fantastic because it took a team plus a hand-full of kids to even make a dent in all the boxes of books. I don’t know what to say…. around the beginning of the year I put out a hope/request/goal/challenge to see a 1,000 books in our Kids Library by the summer AND we blew that away!!! We have roughly 1,500 books (almost all categorized and shelved). UNBELIEVABLE!!! Thank you so much!!! That’s not all though… as I mentioned earlier. We have another 3,000 books in our Warm Blankets office ready to be shipped. The plan when they get here is to sort then into sets of 100 and get them out to 30 of our orphan homes so that they too will have the same ear-to-ear grins and wide eyes that you have helped to place on the kids here in Phnom Penh. Thank you again!!!

Things learned:

  1. Cable is popular here! I don’t mean watching cable programs(well that’s popular too), but the actual cable (wire). This week was the fourth time in as many months that someone has cut and run off with about 100 ft. of cable that connects us to our provider. Oh…what to do without the internet???

  2. Every night as I drive down the driveway, it looks like someone just spilled a big box of rubber balls in front of my car. There are so many frog jumping, hoping, leaping in all different directions to dodge the on coming head lights. There’s always something to entertain you here.

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