This morning we went out to visit the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope’s mobile clinic out in Oudang. Oudang was formerly the capital of Cambodia until it was moved to Phnom Penh at the behest of the French. It also seemed to have missed the modernization boat. It’s pretty close to the city and the hospital provided us transportation to take a look at the work that they’re doing in the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
I’ll admit that there was a bit of culture shock when I got to Oudang. Phnom Penh is pretty modernized and not too far of a jump from western civilization, but Oudang was really just a country village. Apparently the government relocated many people here two years ago to make room in Phnom Penh for real-estate development. A real tragedy.
The mobile health clinic sees about 35 people each morning. In the afternoon, it switches over to become a medical education center for the residents. The clinic can only provide general care so for more specialized cases they are referred to the hospital. We were only there for the morning so only got to see them treating patients who were eagerly waiting for care (note that this clinic does not charge for its services).
While walking around the village an old lady kept beckoning me to come over and take pictures of her house. I walked over to her to oblige, but as I wandered over I realized something… I could understand her! Had I suddenly picked up Khmer during my few days in Cambodia? I wish, but it was really that she was speaking Cantonese. Oddly enough, her family was the only Cantonese speaking family in the village and by random happenstance managed to run into me, the one volunteer who spoke Cantonese. I spoke to her at length about living situation in the village, how she got there, and life in Cambodia. It was an amazing moment for to be able to shatter the language barrier even being across the world. I realized how much can be lost in translation and I appreciated the opportunity to connect and learn from someone who’s lifestyle and outlook on life was so different from my own.
We also had the opportunity to visit the village’s English school. Despite a lack of facilities, the school soldiers on and the village children are given a rudimentary education in English.
I spent the rest of the day reflecting on what I’d seen and starting the time studies in the microbiology lab. Our report out to the CFO is due tomorrow; we’re pushing hard to get everything done but each direction we turn we keep finding more work that can be done, more training that could be completed. I hope Christian and I will be able to keep working with the Sihanouk Hospital over time and return to continue training their lab staff and IT department. There’s just so much that can be done.
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