Written and narrated by Trish Gribben (ex Chair Rose Charities N.Z. Produced by Hannah Walker)
December updates (pdf file) Plans and events to date – Dec 2019
Images from the groundbreaking June 2015 Rose Charities NZ retinal surgical training team visit toDr Vra and Natalia’s Rose Cambodia Eye Hospital. June 2015. With retinal surgeons Dr. Muhammad Khalid, from Hawkes Bay and
Dr Rob Weatherhead .
This enormously successful visit organized by ike Webber (GNZM) Optometrist of Wanganui NZ , and funded by generous NZ donors resulted in a major upgrade of retinal surgical capacity in the excellent facilities of the new international standard hospital built by Dr Vra. The original Kieng Khleang clinic remains to help meet the huge demand in Rose Cambodia’s services to the poor
After returning from an inspiring trip to Cambodia, I wanted to share with you some of the uplifting stories and important work being carried out by Rose Charities in Cambodia. Here are stories of the courageous patients I had the pleasure of meeting and who are being treated at Rose facilities.
1. FIRST STOP: Rose Charities Cambodia Eye Clinic
One of the most endearing people I met during my travels was little Bunmeng, a 7 1/2 month old who travelled all the way from Svay Rieng province, a four hour journey, for eye care. I met Bunmeng and his family as they were waiting to be seen for a consultation. Bunmeng’s mother, aunt and older brother traveled four hours via taxi with him to the Rose eye clinic in order to be treated for abnormal eye discharge. Despite the long trip, Bunmeng was cared for at the Rose eye clinic free of charge. Run by a skilled Cambodian team of experts led by Dr. Hang Vra, the facility is the largest free eye clinic in Cambodia, which conducts 50 consultations each day and performs 50-60 eye surgeries a week.
2. SECOND STOP: Rose Cambodia Rehabilitation Centre (RCRC)
RCRC is comprised of a stand-alone physical therapy facility which predominantly treats traffic accident patients, and a maternity center within the neighboring Chey Chumneas Referral hospital which provides pre and post-natal care. RCRC is led by two part-time Cambodian physical therapists, Ms. Chhay Leangkhy and Mr. Phok Somet, with volunteer support and mentorship by the experienced physio Zoe Blair of New Zealand. RCRC care is offered free of charge for indigent patients, and those who can afford a nominal fee pay per session. Despite the unlucky and discouraging accidents that led patients to RCRC, a pleasant atmosphere permeates the centre.
Meet Maryne. Only 17, Maryne comes to RCRC on a daily basis as soon as school lets out, after her left leg was crushed by her moto when a dog aimlessly ran into the street. She began coming to Rose for physical therapy after being treated in a public hospital for her acute care in addition to private home staff. Unfortunately, rehab is not included in hospitals as post-op care in Cambodia, both one of the reasons for RCRC’s inception and it’s high-demand among patients.
Yi, 69, is a nun who began coming to RCRC after breaking her arm. She initially visited a local traditional Khmer healer, who mistakenly treated her wrist. In the months since the injury, her arm has healed itself, however, Yi’s shoulder was affected from the strain caused by her sling and she’s in severe pain. RCRC is working on a holistic approach to strengthening her upper body.
RCRC’s newest patient is Chanrith, a 3 1/2 year old born with a congenital disjointed knee. His parents were not aware of the severity of his knee problems until recently, and while Chanrith has the ability to walk, he limps and experiences pain. RCRC is working on developing a physiotherapy program for Chanrith, in conjunction with the local children’s surgery center which is assessing whether or not he will need an operation.
3. THIRD STOP: Kosal’s home (a RCRC patient) in rural Takhmao outside Phnom Penh
I have one final, heartfelt story for you.
The most captivating and inspiring story from my visit to Cambodia by far is that of Kosal. The breadwinner of his family, Kosal (30) supports his 88 year-old grandmother, his parents who cannot work due to debilitating illnesses, and his younger sister. While working at a construction site, the board Kosal was standing on unexpectedly snapped, falling a considerable distance and injuring his hip. Unable to cover the cost of the recommended surgery, Kosal remained bed-ridden for two months without the ability to walk, let along support his family. After learning about RCRC from a relative, Kosal began regularly attending physical therapy sessions at the centre, and in only a few weeks time (with a lot of dedicated care) was able to begin walking again. After marked improvement, Kosal has now reduced his RCRC visits to only once/week, and does the remaining exercises at home. Kosal has returned to part-time work and hopes to be fully employed again soon.
These are just a few of the courageous patients being treated at Rose facilities. In a country where post op physical therapy is rarely offered and where many needy patients are priced out of eye care, multiple Rose facilities are making it possible for these patients to get better so they can live healthy lives. For some that means returning to a job so you can support your family, it means forgetting that you used to limp and enjoying your childhood, and it means spending more time studying and enjoying adolescence. We all have our own stories. Become part of the Rose Charities story and you can help patients like Kosal, Chanrith, Maryne and Yi. #RoseCharities supports #PeopleHelpingPeople. Show your support here.
Mike Webber (Rose NZ Trustee) delivers a wonderful NZ donated Topcon operating microscope to Dr Hang Vra (left) and the Rose Eye Clinic. Mike and Anne Webber brought up from NZ and assembled it on site. The donation will give considerable upgrade in the clinics remarkable services for Cambodian blind and/or in need of eye surgery. The scope was taken up to Cambodia by Mike and Anne Webber and assembled there by them on site by them.
The Rose Charities Cambodia Eye Clinic / Sight Center has treated over 100,000 patients in the last 10 years. It also runs an outreach program, taking eye screening, out to rural areas as well as promoting eye health.The clinic was founded in 1997. though had to be entirely re-equipped when it was looted by an expatriate orchestrated group of thieves in 2003.
We are proud to announce that we have been featured in new book that is being released shortly. ‘Unsung Heroes Cambodia: People and Projects Making a Difference’ is a non-profit book that is a collection of inspirational stories about NGO’s that also raises awareness about the complex issues surrounding voluntourism. It offers practical tips for anyone interested in helping whether by donating time, money or equipment. It also is filled with stunning photography that presents a side of Cambodia that is heartfelt and unique (in the large format book – an ebook version will also be available for travelers).To receive information on this book (which is raising money for the projects it includes) please join the mailing list by using this link:You can also join us on Facebook/ Unsung Heroes Cambodia.
Rose Charities NZ has donated the funds for a truck to Rose Cambodia Eye/Sight Centre for their outreach program. Collecting for the truck was primarily orchestrated by Mr Mike Webber, Optometrist and Rose Laureate 2009, of Wanganui who worked tirelessly to see the project through. In Mach 2012 a fundraser was held (
http://www.wanganuichronicle.co.nz/news/truck-in-sight-after-eye-fundraiser/1293047/) which hosted over 110 people and, thanks to the Wanganui attendees, raised over $NZ5000. The remainder was donated with huge generosity by a private NZ Foundation which specifically targets international projects which have outstanding cost effectiveness (as the Eye Centre does) .