Our second mission took place on May 8-12, 2002. We arrived at the airport with about 38 boxes. Several US Navy men assisted us with the loading and transport of these boxes from Ivey and Chris’s homes to the airport by way of a truck and a van. We are especially grateful to them for waiting until we got the OK from Silk Air to take 30 of the boxes. They graciously took the other 8 boxes back for storage. We finally made it on the plane with little time to spare!
Upon arrival it took some time to gather all the boxes and make our way through immigration. We were met by Dr. Say Sengly and Sotia Hok. Unfortunately there was no transport for our medical and orphanage supplies, however Sotia came through for us and managed to secure a truck. Finally we were off.
Our medical team consisted of Dr. Fong Poh Him, Dr.Ling Sing Yew, Dr. Tan Geok Mui, Dr. Pua Hwee Leng, Dr. Margaret Leow, Dr. Charles Johnson, Dr. Tham (Wong Siew Nee), Mrs. Leong Wah Peck, Ms. Vilsa de la Cruz, Ms. Michelle Gran Aberin, and our med students, Kao Yung Shiang, Mohammed idu Bin Jion, and Ho Ming Li. They headed to Municipal Hospital where they prepared the OT and began to triage and screen patients for the day’s surgery.
The rest of us, Dr. Lee Oi Kum, Theresa Johnson, Alex Ng, Zainab Wong, Nick Huang, Chris Wagner, Adriane Wagner, Rebecca Wagner, Wong Siew Kin, and Ivey Peterson; settled into the hotel and then off to the hospital and DOFRA, Development Organization for Family Relief and Assistance. This is an NGO run by Sam Kamsann. He distributes goods and food to people in need. He also runs a computer school free of charge to those who can not pay. He graduated his first class recently. Dr. Lee Oi Kum and her son Alex helped him by giving him several computers and English programs. They also worked with Sok Sabay helping to get them started on using their MacIntosh lap top computers. We also made our first visit to SFODA, Sacrifice Families and Orphans Development Association. This orphanage houses 60 children in very poor conditions. We purchased fruit and distributed some of the goods we brought to their children. Later in the week we returned with Dr. Johnson and Dr. Tham assisted by Mohammed who examined the children and distributed medication, advice and vitamins. Some of the volunteers played with the children, blowing bubbles, playing with tennis balls and doing an art project with the donated supplies. We were later able to purchase four bicycles for them so the children would have some transportation.
Those at the hospital had a challenging time. Our first mission to Phnom Penh took place in a new Operating Theater (OT). It had not been used because they did not have the money to equip it. It worked quite well for us as we brought in the equipment we needed. However this time we were moved to the older wing of the hospital into the Opthamology OT due to the fact that the hospital was being remodeled and the new OT had been temporarily taken over by the hospital’s laboratory and offices. This made for some confusion. Our patient population wasn’t quite what we had been led to expect either in numbers or in types of surgical cases. We still felt the mission to be a success due to the fact that it brought our staff to work with the Cambodian doctors and nurses, giving them the opportunity to increase their knowledge and improve their skills. We stopped the surgeries Friday mid-day and then were able to take our medical staff to visit several orphanages and centers around Phnom Penh. Two of our doctors also did surgical cases and gave lectures at King Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE.
The orphanage visits continued with the Nutrition Center. This is a government sponsored facility which houses a variable number of moderate to severely handicapped children from ages four to adult as well as HIV positive babies and children. We also distributed stuffed toys and played with the children. We also visited with Claire, our friend from Singapore, and Pei, the child she sponsors at the Center.
We had a brief visit with Geraldine’s Sunrise Children’s Village in their temporary quarters. Geraldine has written a book about her life and the orphanage, which will soon be made into a movie. She is in the process of raising funds to build a new facility on donated land to house her 55 children. We were also able to give them donated art supplies and other goods.
On Saturday most of us took a trip to Peaceful Children’s Home I. This home houses over 100 children in the countryside outside Phnom Penh. They treated us to lunch and then gave us a wonderful music and dance performance. It included some international songs as well as traditional Cambodian ones. We were asked to reciprocate. Fortunately we had talent in our group; Zainab helped us to sing a traditional Malay song. Dr. Fong spoke to the group from his heart and they much appreciated his words. $500 was donated to the home on behalf of Singapore’s United World College to help pay for school uniforms for the children.
Some of the team was able to get in a little sight-seeing which included Toul Sleng, the prison used during the Khmer Rouge period and the Killing Fields. Also the palace and museum were visited. Rebecca demonstrated her magical talents in the museum when she beat the drums causing the sky to turn dark and creating a fierce wind! According to the guide this means that she has royal blood.
On Sunday some of the team returned to Singapore while the rest of us met up with a group already in Siem Reap. We toured the Vietnamese and Cambodian floating villages, and saw as much of Angkor Wat as we could. We even got up to watch sunrise! We also had an opportunity to visit Angkor Hospital for Children and the director Jon Morgan. $500 was donated to them to help with operating costs.
This was the first time we traveled with such a large group. It was hectic at times but everyone contributed in their own way to a very successful trip.
Thank you! We could not have successfully completed the trip without assistance from everyone who donated medical and orphanage supplies. We especially want to thank Triprint, the company that donated our first “Singapore Medical Mission” T-shirts. KC DAT donated all the boxes and packing material we needed to get our supplies to Cambodia. Finally, a special thank you to United World College of Southeast Asia for their most generous donation of S$4,000 to help the orphanages and our medical mission.