No matter what his or her condition was, every person at the hospital was smiling. Whether they were staff smiling because they were making miracles happen for hundreds of impoverished children, or they were “immune compromised” patients smiling because they were at the only place that could placate their disease, or they were frightened, yet patient, parents smiling for relatively obvious reasons, people knew that this was the place to be.
The Angkor Hospital for Children, located in Siem Reap, is the only place of refuge for the impecunious masses of both urban and rural Cambodia; as the government hospitals are far too expensive, this hospital treats over 400 children everyday, gratis; if that isn’t charity, then I don’t know what is… The day that I spent at the hospital was life changing, not because I saw suffering that broke me or saw benevolence beaming from every staff member – although this isn’t wholly untrue – but because I saw the power of the human condition.
This hospital was erected to fill a necessary gap in the lives of thousands of sick and suffering children, by people who were not that much better off themselves, just because it needed to be done; that is the human condition. I was fortunate enough to go along on a homecare visit, where several doctors make home visits to the poorest of patients in the rural areas because they can’t themselves get to the hospital, and I saw how dependant these families were on the medicine, advice, and attention of the home-care doctors.
As we pulled up in the newly donated “Trethewey Mobile” the families all came out to greet us, and although someone in their family was quite ill, they were again, smiling. I watched the whole family, who watched their sick family member, who watched the health care worker and saw the interconnectedness; these people desperately need this assistance, and are getting the best medical care Cambodia can offer.
During this visit I was of absolutely no use, aside from the fact that I tell everyone who makes the mistake of asking me about my trip to Google the hospital and donate, I plan on going back this summer (hopefully they will have me!) to be of some real use to someone other than myself. I saw how incredibly blessed I was to be born in a geographically ideal place, but I also saw how no matter where you go people have needs and certain people with the drive and good conscience to do so attend to those needs. I hope for your sake, whoever you are reading this, that you make the journey over to the hospital, and see for yourself the amazing work being done to address the incredible need that never ceases to grow. I hope that when you do go you stop briefly in the waiting hall; never again in your life will you see patience and gratitude from a mass of uncomfortable children and worried parents and terribly busy nurses and doctors. This place, for many more reasons than I have mentioned here, is truly one-of-a-kind, and truly in need of your support.
- Julia Hodgkinson, Volunteer