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Angkor Hospital for Children and Medical Action Myanmar

Mar 25, 2013

Hi Everyone,

We are now at the end of our final week of our time here in Cambodia and it has been busy, so we will try and catch up on what we have been up to. We have partnered with CW Asia Fund (CWAF) from Vancouver on two specific projects; the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) here in Cambodian and another NGO called Medical Action Myanmar (MAM) which works in a slum area on the outskirts of Yangon in Myanmar. Nina and John Cassils have been working for years in Myanmar and provide wonderful support for numerous projects there as well as here in Cambodia. They recently did a fundraiser and we partnered with them to deliver funds to these two very worthy projects.

On March 1st we flew from Cambodia to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, to the capital city of Yangon to meet the director Dr. Frank Smithuis and staff of M.A.M. Dr. Frank came from Holland to S.E.Asia in the early 90's as a newly graduated medical student and has been here ever since; first working in the refugee camps, after the genocide in Cambodia and then moving to work in Myanmar for the past 13 or so years. We had not been inside Myanmar since 2003 and were looking forward to returning to see if the change of government and the release fof Aung San Su Kyi, "The Lady" as they call her, had resulted in any changes in the country.  Upon arrival it was not difficult to sense the feeling of freedom that had replaced the hushed conversations of democracy from ten years ago and previously banned photos of the Su Kyi were now everywhere. There was also a very visible change in the condition of vehicles and many shops selling the latest electronics to those that have the means, although as usual the new found prosperity is only a veneer for the reality of the majority. After making contact with Dr. Frank we took a taxi out to the clinic in the township where they operate, ouside of Yangon. The clinic serves approximately 300 patients a day and assists a very poor community populated by people displaced by development projects, land grabs and hurricane Nargis.

Dr. Frank and Dr Ni Ni Tunn head up a valiant effort to serve these displaced children and families with a lot of their efforts focused on HIV/Aids, TB and women's health issues for women who are forced into the sex trade by poverty. We were very impressed with Dr. Ni Ni and her team, she is one of the leading experts on HIV/AIDS in the whole country. With the funds donated through CWAF and K.I.D.S. funding we were able to assist the clinic with support for several doctors, nurses, lab technicians and outreach workers. The reception area was packed with people and for them MAM is their only hope for medical assistance, as the state system is poor to non existent. MAM is a project that eases much suffering, misery and without a doubt saves lives.

While visiting the city we were refrerred by our friend John Beeching, who has worked tirelessly for the people of Burma for decades, helping to support both education and easing suffering. He told us about a small school that he and Nina and John Cassils were supporting in another very poor area of the city. The free school offers education to children ages 5 to 12 and provides them with a hot lunch program and hope for a better future. KIDS was able to support the new school year with uniforms, school supplies and bookshelves.  

The Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap is another amazing place. This year marks our tenth year of working with them. During the Pol Pot years, educated people were targeted for extermination and after four years of terror only 17 doctors remained in the country with no infrastructure to serve the remaining 4 million people left alive. Since AHC opened 13 years ago it has served thousands and thousands of children as well as providing training for new Doctors and Nurses. As a teaching hospital they are steadily restocking the country with doctors, nurses, radiologists and the many other specialists that are needed. They serve 400 to 500 children on a daily basis free of charge for service and prescriptions. Again with the partnership of CW Asia fund KIDS was able to support many positions and testing procedures to ease the suffering of sick children.

We are always moved but the dedication of those that choose to provide healthcare, with little or no support from the government. they all work very hard raising funds, increasing survival rates and easing the suffering of those that have no means for treatment, it is a privileged to meet these impressive and inspiring people. 

We are heading to Bangkok for a six day rest and holiday before flying home and will send our last post from there.

All the best to you and yours,
Rick and Adrianne

Kids International Development Society


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