Cambodia: July 2013
Dear friends, brothers and sisters,
Just a note to thank you for your kind support for Bread & Life International and the work in Cambodia this year. We wish to report back on some of the work done where Bread & Life worked with a number of local partners and missionaries and the team traveled to various rural places to provide as much dental and medical treatment as possible for these people that cannot afford the treatments. At the same time, providing help to meet their physical needs and also help prevent further diseases such as building the water pump at Tropeang village to provide clean water, a poultry farm at Solid Rock orphanage, toothbrushes and toothpaste, vitamins, medication, etc.
Cambodia is such a fascinating country with beautiful people. They are rebuilding from a lost generation where during the Pol Pot era from 1976, many of the intellectuals (teachers, engineers, lawyers etc) were slaughtered. The combined effects of executions, forced labor, malnutrition, and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population. In all, an estimated 1 to 3 million people (out of a population of slightly over 8 million) died due to the policies of his three-year premiership. Basic education such as the need to brush their teeth and basic hygiene was sorely lacking.
The first partner was with Solid Rock Missions (Orphanage, school and church) founded by Felipe Castro who is a medical doctor and missionary from Philippines serving in Cambodia for the last 15 years. During his time there, he and his wife felt the great need on a loving home for the orphans and abandoned children and that was how they started the orphanage which currently has 50 children with hundreds that been blessed through the years and grew up to be useful citizens of Cambodia. It was amazing to see the children so well behaved and passionate. Due to the poor education in Cambodia, they also started a school which now has 300 students and a brand new community hospital for the poor which will open from Dec 2013. This is an amazing ministry as a visit to the doctors would set local Cambodia’s US$30 back, given that factory workers in the city earns about US$80 a month (yes a month, not a week, not or a day). Rural farmers are worst off as they earn about US$30 a month. Solid Rock is based in Kampong Thom province and about midway between Phnom Penh and Siam Reap, the 2 major cities with international airports. From Phnom Penh, it was a 3.5 hour drive. Whilst we were there we built a poultry farm at the orphanage. The intention was to that the children (under instructions) will learn some basic poultry farming skills and will also have chicken and eggs to feed on. We also run medical and dental clinics at the school and a nearby village. Bread and Life also build a water pump in the village to provide the clean water from 2m below ground. Previously they were getting water from an old fashioned well which provided unhygienic water which is not safe for them.
After Kampong Thom, we travelled to Phonm Penh and went to neighbouring provinces range from 1 to 2 hour drive to setup dental and medical clinics. The first village was in Kampong Speu supporting the work of Hebron hospital started by Dr. Kim a missionary from Korea. We also had fun and games with the street children and at the same time took the opportunity to teach them teeth brushing skills and English songs – which might seems trivial here in the UK but crucial out there. Each child was given a toothbrush and toothpaste. Also, everyone young and old that was treated at the dental clinics were supplied with the dental hygiene kits.
The earlier Bread & Life team that come in May 2013 together with Operation Hernia (UK charity) used Hebron facilities to perform free Hernia operations for over a hundred of the villagers. During that time, KE, a 16 year old Cambodian girl suffering from a severe case of bone tumour visited the surgery. However, the tumour could not be treated in any of the hospital in Cambodia. One of the hernia surgeons send the scans of KE with a tumour specialist in a London hospital kindly offered to operate on her for free and a sponsor step forward to get her flown to London to have the operation. Hebron have applied for the KE’s UK visa since then and when we visited in July, just had news that the visa was rejected on the grounds that the UK invitation letter from the doctor was not clear and that they had also applied for a translator to travel with them. We made a visit to KE encouraging her that we are doing everything we can for the visa and that she might not lose hope. Our heart ached as KE is now getting thinner and the tumour has grown larger. The infection has spread severely and she is in severe pain. However, she is a really brave girl and we held her hands to comfort and pray with her. After the visit, Hebron started looking at other options for surgery and submitted her visa for Korea which has now been approved and KE will be flying to Korea for treatment on 8th Sep. After Speu village, we travelled to Takeo where Pastor Bernard, a missionary from Singapore who had served there for 8 years and again provided medical and dental clinics.
We spent about 4 days with Pastor Bien who is also a missionary from Phillipines and the children at his Hope orphanage in Phnom Penh. The children were so joyful, happy, talented and confident, thanks to the love and care of Pastor Bien, his wife and the staff. They also reach out to many other villages and we conducted medical and dental clinics in one of them, the Andong village. One our last day, we brought all the children and staff from Hope to Pizza World for dinner. It was a wonderful time for everyone with many of the children not having the luxury of pizza in their lives. Pastor Bien also run a school for the poor over there and so Bread and LIfe sponsored a playground for the school.
We were also able to operate dental clinics with Daughters of Cambodia. A charity that helps women/boys out of the sex trade. They have a fabric factory which produced quality fabric based products. We supported them buy buying their products. They also have café which was top notch, again we supported them as we enjoyed lunch there. Soon they will be opening a guest house and we hope to use it when we are there the next time.
Thank you once again for all your love, prayer and support!