In August 2013, I had the privilege of spending a week volunteering at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap. I was greeted at the hospital with so much excitement and enthusiasm. During my time at the AHC I met so many different people, including nurses, doctors, administrative workers and patients. My experience with the inspiring Cambodian staff and patients left a lasting impression on my life. I was able to interact with many of the patients, shadow the nurses and also participate in homecare visits to bring medical care to local Cambodians who were unable to travel to the city to seek the healthcare they needed. The patients I was directly working with were patients who were suffering from severe malnutrition, or had been affected by HIV/AIDS.
We traveled all the way to Battambang to perform check ups and deliver medication to several different patients suffering from malnutrition, as well as one patient suffering from cerebral palsy. While we spent a lot of time with the patients during our trip to Battambang, we were also able to visit the Kamping Pouy Lake and enjoy the beautiful countryside of Cambodia.
My time at the AHC provided me with unique skills in interacting with different patients and caring for young children. I gained extensive knowledge that I would never receive in Canada, as well as a beautiful outlook on the country of Cambodia and its people. The people of Cambodia are truly an inspiration after all the country has been through, and I feel fortunate to have been able to volunteer some of my time to help this country. I feel lucky to have been a part of the AHC community and to witness first-hand the incredible things that they do. I hope to be back soon!
Lindsay Peretz, Vancouver, Canada
Allison Jackes reporting on Brown Rice Restaurant –
While in Siem Reap, I met Gemma and her partner Chor. They, along with a couple of Chor’s friends, had opened a restaurant and were struggling with several aspects of it. Having worked in restaurants throughout university, and discussing the restaurants’ struggles, they realized I have extensive knowledge in the functioning and running of restaurants. This is the reason I commenced the role as Capacity Builder and Marketing Administrator for Brown Rice Restaurant.
The roles and projects this position enabled me to be a part of were diverse; from creating marketing materials, developing inventory and ordering systems, promoting through social media, menu development, and conducting trainings with the staff; I was able to tackle many different projects in many different areas.
My work has been both challenging and rewarding. To begin with it was a pleasant surprise to find that the knowledge and skills I had learned over several years in customer service based positions could add value to a local business. Siem Reap is flourishing under the expanding tourism industry and I want to make sure it is not only the foreign run businesses that benefit from this development, but locals too. Furthermore, to help these three socially conscious young men turn their restaurant vision into a reality has been an experience!
Working with a locally owned and run business has also given me a real insight into Khmer culture. Having to tailor some activities and conversations to meet with local Khmer norms allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for the culture. Furthermore, to see the staff grow as they were continually empowered and challenged has been rewarding.
When I left for Cambodia I was hoping to leave the restaurant world behind, but this experience has shown me that there are always a variety of opportunities; skills and experience that I may not personally hold to high esteem, may actually be invaluable to others and can be used to create real change.
I was given a month long volunteer position at ANGKOR HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN in the Capacity Building and Health and Education Program (CBHEP). This team takes a preventative approach to health care, working to both educate and improve rural health centers in the Siem Reap Province.
My role with CBHEP was to finish a report summarizing their 4 year project in one rural commune. After a day trip in the field with the team I was able to see how their 4 year intervention process had grown. Starting with a baseline survey the individual needs of the community were assessed and a program was designed based around improving child, maternal and environmental health. The team spends the majority of their time in the field empowering locals and encouraging self-sufficiency. I collaborated with a well-known American doctor on the project, and our work was recently presented to the board.
Though challenging at many points, my experience at AHC was very rewarding. To be involved in the final stages of a long term project and provide the CBHEP team with a resource that really highlights the impact of their work, was a fulfilling experience. Furthermore, I was introduced to a team of very dedicated, optimistic and passionate people who are committed to creating change in their country.
I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Angkor Hospital for Children, especially the Capacity Building and Health and Education team for involving me in such a dynamic project. I would also like to thank Dr. Mike Wall, whose occasionally blunt but guided editing was invaluable.
Canadian Volunteer Alison Jackes