Posted on 2 April, 2015

Hi Everyone,

I want to thank all the team members for a great job. The most inspiring pople I know are those that are able to give back to humanity the good fortunes they have received. I know that on every Open Heart International project I will be surrounded by those people. I have always felt fortunate to have the connection with Open Heart International which enables me to work with such an amazing community.

This project visit to Cambodia took that to a whole new level. Our Open Heart International newbies were the most inspiring of all. Extending your skills beyond your comfort zone, extra night duty shifts without hesitation, hard labour in 35+ degree heat, loving the kids and their families as if they were your own. Our newbies shine – thank you! You inspiried us to do it all again and even better next time!

The project has been beautifully summed up by Renee in her Cambodian reflections written below. Also take a look at the photos from the trip via this video:

When I first embarked on my OHI journey, I was quietly confident that I would be able to raise the required $3,500 without too much trouble. But I never expected the overwhelming response I received from family, friends, colleagues and even my husband’s colleagues. It was the beginning of what has been, for me, a remarkable, life changing, humbling experience, and I am so grateful to the whole OHI team for facilitating it.

Arriving at the airport on the Saturday morning suddenly made it all very real. Many had already been on the Cambodia trip several times, some of us were newbies, but soon enough, we were all chatting and getting to know each other.

After arriving in Siem Reap, the following day we had a sunrise temple tour, a tour of the hospital and of the town. It was quite overwhelming seeing the hospital for the first time and seeing the waiting area where families may wait for days for their child to be seen to. What amazed me was how calm the kids and families were compared to the hospital waiting rooms back home.

Monday morning saw us put together gift bags for the children to be given after surgery, the first craft session where Jen and I bonded almost instantly with a couple of the older kids and with their parents and then the physio session later that afternoon.

The following day, I was privileged enough to meet the little boy that I had sponsored, Dun. He is the most gorgeous little man, and his parents, clearly devoted to him, were with him day in and day out. Fortunately, he made a very quick recovery and was running around 48hours after surgery like nothing had happened.

What struck me most about the Cambodian people, were quite frankly, their patience and their gratitude. Gratitude that there was somewhere that they could take their sick kids to, gratitude that the hospital took them out mosquito nets each night for them to sleep under on the wooden benches, whatever the outcomes for their children, there was no aggression, no abusing the medical staff, no demands… and their patience, waiting sometimes for days to be seen by medical staff… it was a far cry to what my (albeit limited) experience has been in hospitals and in even in doctors surgeries at home.

I think, in a lot of ways, we are so arrogant about what makes a person “rich”. We tend to equate it with material possessions…big houses, nice cars, fancy clothes .Emotional wealth is something we don’t put too much emphasis on in our lives and something I noticed was in abundance everywhere we went. People seemed genuinely happy. They derived genuine joy from their families, from their surroundings. The Cambodians have been through so much and lost so much and yet, their smiles are genuine, their affection heartfelt. At the same time the team were able to share their medical knowledge and skills with them, we can learn from them how to work with so little yet gain so much emotional wealth.

I feel truly humbled to have been a part of the OHI Cambodia trip as a sponsor this year and would like to extend my thanks to Fiona, Deb, Bec and Steph Van Hilten, for making it happen. To everyone else on the trip, thank you for everything you do both for OHI, and at home to make a difference to every patient you treat and every family you help and care for. You are all amazing. It has been an absolute pleasure to know you and I hope we can do it again soon.


Tags:  Cambodia,