If you were sick in Cambodia, you’d want to hope you had good travel insurance. In some of the hospitals scattered throughout the countryside, doctors have gotten their degrees through bribes. Often they may have studied the subjects only to fail their exams. It’s nothing $20 U.S. can’t fix.
Not everyone is corrupt over here, but the ability to get want you want through bribes can be mighty tempting to anyone for whom opportunity is hard to come by.
In the same manner, the opportunity for receiving genuine healthcare can have just as much to do with your ability to slip a little extra under the table as it does with any need you might have. If only Michael Moore had come here.
Just a few days ago I visited the Healing Home in Phnom Penh. Led and run by a compassionate couple from New Zealand, the home offers free accommodation and support for patients and family members while they seek medical assistance in the city. Mostly these people have been transported from provincial villages, having lived their whole lives in the rural areas. Usually they are forced into the city after they have found that the witch doctors and traditional medicine can’t cure their sickness.
Decent medical assistance can be very expensive. A new friend was telling me that a single unit of blood from one of the local hospitals can cost $30—a bit more than the $1 to $2 a day a lot of villages can hope to make.
Injustice is a daily sight in Phnom Penh. The children who search the streets for rubbish are looking for a way to survive another day. The professional beggars living by the main roads are hoping that the rich people in their nice cars might be willing to throw their crumbs out the windows. The sick in the Healing Home are praying for the strength to face the day without pain and without fear.
I met a young man who had made the heart wrenching decision to have his leg amputated. When he was a little boy in his village, a snake had bitten his leg and had left him with a deformity. Much later, when he was a grown man, a dog bit that very same leg. A huge ulcer developed, and the village traditional medicine could no longer help. When he came to the Healing Home, he was left with the horrific decision of either living with the ulcer (and possibly a major infection), or amputating his leg.
The staff at the Healing Home gave him their love and support. They reminded him daily that he was not alone, that he is loved and that he is free to make his own decisions. In the end he chose to walk forward in life with the help of prosthetics.
When I met him, he was still coming to terms with his decision, but the love and support within the Healing Home was helping him to move out of the despair and into a hopeful life.
A retired couple from New Zealand gave birth to their compassion for people. They left their home and created a new one. Within the haphazard capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia there is a home for Healing. Free of charge, without corruption, and with a heck of a lot of love. The picture is too beautiful to paint—it can only be admired.
There are so many people rejecting apathy, if I were to attempt to write an article about each person changing and improving lives within Phnom Penh alone, I would crash the web page with the sheer volume and weight of their amazing work. If I were to branch it out to the rest of the world, I reckon I’d crash my brain. All these people and organizations doing great work around world have a common link: with each one, the people involved decided to get up, and walk. They saw a need and they walked toward it. They met the children on the street, they shared with the beggars by the road and they healed the sick.
I hope that I can spend the rest of my days getting up and walking. I look forward to meeting you along the way.