Cambodia always seemed interesting and mystical to the tourists, with nice temperate climate, friendly people and a dark past. In the 2 weeks I was here, I have come to discover many of the culture, beliefs and roots hidden deep within the society, the issues not every tourist hears or knows about. It manifest in their healthcare, education, police, politics and work. It would be good to share and to recollect many of these experiences.
Children and education
it seems that just 2 years ago, it was a culturally accepted practice to pay the teacher money. (Bride/gift) This is not just any examination but actually the national examination which decides the career choices of the individual. Only a pass would allow them to pursue a college qualification. It caught the attention of the government which put a stop to this practice with strict enforcement. All of a sudden the pass rate dropped to below 30% from 70% and above.
Recently 2 of the orphans have successfully graduated from Solid Rock academy by passing the exam. They were expected by their teachers to fail because they did not attend the extra class due to their commitment to serve the church on Sunday. These so called classes where in the teachers house, where they charge the students additional fees. It was reported that sometimes the teachers do not teach the entirety of the curriculum during class time, only to reserve it for the extra class students. We celebrated their graduation with a wonderful steamboat meal gracefully sponsored by Saving Susan ministry. A rare treat for the kids indeed! Yummy!
The government has started an initiative to instill confidence in the local doctors. As such, it would be good to pray for good local doctors in Cambodia who are willing to serve the people. It would also be useful to understand the perspective of the local patients. Health education is still low on these areas with many patients believing that their goitre ( thyroid swelling ) was caused by a trauma or some spiritual element. Yet, many still eagerly await the arrival of the surgical team, knowing well that it can deliver.
The hospital is currently my workplace and accommodation. It was built to have facilities for outpatient department, a surgical theatre, laboratory, pharmacy, dental, x-Ray and some inpatient beds. However, currently it is severely understaffed with only me and Dr Castro as physicians. We only open the outpatient department in the morning and handle minor surgery such as excision of lipoma, sebaceous cyst, and keliod in the afternoon. The areas marked x-Ray and laboratory are empty rooms awaiting eager people to work there.
In order to fully understand the health of the local populace, I have undertaken a project to digitize all the paper notes in the hospital. I have sought expertise by others and is currently looking through all 1600+ patients notes. In this regard, my hope is to do a quality improvement paper and then understand ways to improve the local healthcare. Furthermore, the implementation of an open source healthcare program can only prepare the hospital for more patients data, provide easy access, connect the work of the pharmacy, images and billing in addition to assisting greatly in statistics.
The ministry here includes a prayer meeting on Wednesday, Sunday school on Sunday morning followed by a service. Afterwards there is outreach ministry where they sent groups to different areas to share the gospel and for the feeding program. It involves teaching mostly children the Lord's Prayer, and songs. Occasionally they host bible camps, allowing preachers from far to come share and encourage the local pastors.
The congregation is small with mostly young believers both in age and faith. There was an idea that the adults were too steeped in Buddhist culture and their ways. But the children seemed open to the gospel. Yet, let's not disregard anyone too far from the grace offered by Jesus Christ.
I have gotten to know some of the kids here and they have shared some hardships and difficulties they faced. Some of the have accepted Christ and was baptized. My prayer is that they grow strong in faith and knowledge of his love. We definitely need more good Christian men and women here in Cambodia.
In fact, some of the kids were about to lose their sponsorship due to financial constraints. They were sponsored by groups such as Saving Susan ministry. It really challenge me to seriously consider virtually adopting some of them. It requires 40 US dollars to support a child a month at the orphanage.
I believe I have shared much. Please pray for the following:
For the Cambodian rulers, politicians and people, that there will be peace, and justice in the country, and to favour the health and education needs of the population
For more people to serve with their time, expertise, money for the establishment of this new hospital.
For the children and orphans who need financial aid each monthly.
Til next time. All Glory be to God. Always.