Posted on 9 May, 2013

This post is by Fiona Hyde, Project Coordinator – Cambodia.

Time passes very quickly and we have barely returned from Myanmar to be now off to Cambodia. This will be the second trip that focuses on teaching complex paediatric cardiac surgery in Siem Reap. Along with 300kg of equipment recently sent, and a team of 20 volunteers from all over Australia we are all set to go.

Our aim this year is to let the Cambodian team take the lead in surgery and for us to assist – and it is amazing just how much they will learn in one week of surgery.

But something else always occurs when the Australian team arrives. Chaos in the corridors! Yes we always come armed with balls and bubbles to entertain all. These pictures are from previous trips.

Cambodian heart patients with balloons Cambodia day on the ward

But life hasnt always been smiles for the Cambodians. And that is the whole reason why we are invited each year.

Cambodia’s recent history has taken an enormous toll on the population. We all remember the name Pol Pot. His policies involved deadly purges to eliminate remnants of the “old society”, the educated being the target. This left a legacy of poorly educated people and a lack of self-sufficiency, with 25% of the Cambodian population dying from starvation or execution within 4 years.

Today the country is reliant upon Western assistance. Teachers, doctors, volunteers all flock to the country to fill the educated roles that would normally have a succession from a local generation. But that generation of Cambodian people are not there. So Operation Open Heart aims to educate the next generation – we aim for to create Cambodian independence so they can perform this life changing surgery on future generations.

We have a busy week ahead with over 10 children being admitted to hospital as I write. We also have an eager Cambodian surgical team who have been working tirelessly to be organised for our visit.

So stay tuned….

Tags:  Cambodia,