Posted on 16 March, 2016

A year has passed since I was last here in Cambodia. As a fundraiser and team member, the one thing that has kept me excited and nervous about this trip was the thought of meeting the new children that needed their hearts repaired. It is great to be back for a second visit!

It didn’t take long for me to again remember that it is always my heart that gets repaired! The one feeling that is overwhelming for me every time I have been to Cambodia is the gratitude received from the patients and their families, even though you enter their lives for only a week.


I really thought I would be a bit more immune to the beautiful faces of the children, as we interacted with them during this morning’s arts and craft session. The laughter and happiness of the children demonstrated during afternoon Physiotherapy and games session also tugs at my heart strings like it did the first time a year ago.

I am once again in awe of Open Heart International, and the individual team members that are here to teach and hand over all their knowledge to the Cambodian medical team.

While sitting at breakfast this morning I listened in on a story that shows how this team will go the “extra mile”. Two of the ICU nurses, Laura and Liz, had just come off night shift and were discussing about how they opened up their “Mobile Beauty Salon” for one of the post operation patients – a 12 year old girl.

I had never heard of the “salon” and was curious to know what they meant. It turns out the two nurses sensed some distraction from the pain of surgery might be the best cure. So it was time to go into action and to start making this little girl feel like a princess! They did this by brushing and braiding her hair, putting on a new outfit, and couple of little fashion accessories.


The impact of this simple gesture was bought home to the nurses when the little girl’s mother, through a translator, said thank you and that they had made her feel pretty again. I guess 12 year old girls are the same the world over.

Later that day, my partner Doug (part of the building team) and I got the opportunity to quickly visit the patients in ICU. We are each accompanied by the Open Heart International team and I was introduced to the patient who I’d already heard so much about. She had the most gorgeous, brave smile, lying in her bed with all the fashion accessories in her hair.

Given the opportunity to rub shoulders with a medical team like Open Heart International reminds me of how heroic our Australian medical professionals are, and certainly makes the fundraising Doug and I committed to, worthwhile. In the words of my favourite song “There is no place I’d rather be”

Tags:  Cambodia,