No matter how much you’ve planned, nothing ever seems to come together to meet your original vision. But, if you remain flexible and open to new ideas, there is always a time and place to make an appreciable difference in the community.
The Port-au-Prince metropolitan area is about the same size as Chicago, with a population of 2.6 million and no sewer system. Today, GHESKIO is flanked by The City of God and The Eternal City—massive slums that an estimated 200,000 Haitians call home.
Nothing brings a trip to Cambodia to an eventful end better than a national soccer game between Cambodia and Timor Leste. Not only was this game the biggest event of the week here in Cambodia, it was the perfect representation of this country, their camaraderie, and their never-ending joy. This futball game was more than two teams playing against each other for a win. It was a representation of the ability of this country to join together, to fight for joy and for the well-being of one another. Hearing thousands of Cambodians pridefully sing out their national anthem is unforgettable.
An education is a valued resource for these students, and it is an opportunity that many Cambodians do not get because of poverty. It was an honor to take a small part in this life changing opportunity for these people.
We heard their stories full of unimaginable hardships, including tragic deaths of family members and even near-death experiences for themselves. Through all the oppression that these people have faced they have pushed forward; they continue to work hard everyday to provide for themselves and their families.
On Tuesday we toured Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE and were able to shadow/work with some of the nurses in the different wards. Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE consists of a non-profit, educational hospital, which is funded by a for profit, income-based clinic and donors. This hospital not only provides much needed care for the poor, but it is also known for its education and training of Cambodian health care professionals. Sihanouk has created sustainability because of the quality care that the hospital provides and because the hospital has been able to expand by developing educated health care professionals.
The temples at Angkor Wat were a reminder of the strength of Cambodia. Even though there has been destruction of the temples, they have survived. The temples represent the marvel in Cambodia that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge could not destroy. The temples were also a reminder that there is restoration in store for the people of Cambodia.
As a group we visited the World Mate Emergency Hospital in Battambang. This hospital is doing incredible things, with a quarter of the resources that we have in the United States. The patient population of this hospital consists of men, women, and children that have been victims of severe, and some times life threatening injuries. The most common injury that our group observed at this hospital was motor vehicle accidents, including motos. This is no surprise since Cambodia does not have any traffic laws, or helmet laws.
After it was all said and done, I think our entire team would agree that we felt like we were trying to fill an ocean with an eye dropper. The people that we saw at these clinics had many more health care needs than we could possibly take care of with our mobile clinic. These people need clean water, better housing, and long term health care. Yes, the health care, physical therapy, medications, and education that our team provided does benefit these people, but our eyedropper only made a small puddle in their lives.
As human beings we must always seek to see one another as valued individuals. Diversity is a gift. We can, and should learn to value differences. By following these three steps in your own life, you can grow and become more connected to the differences and needs of those surrounding you.