We arrived in Siem Reap mid-thunder-storm at around 6:30 pm to a crazy looking hostel. Its a pretty basic room, with mozzie nets and a fan but it works fine for us!
We just threw our bags down, locked up valuables and then headed straight out to find a tuk tuk to take us to see a cello performance that our friend had recommended. In the hospitals conference room we sat and listened to cello performances and informations and videos on the Kantha Bopha Hospitals.
It was absolutely the right way to introduce ourselves to this country. Beat Rechner had come over from Switzerland in 1974 to work at a hospital in Phnom Penh, just as the Khmer Rouge took over the area and has been pretty devoted to the area ever since. Since 1991 he has managed to build at least 5 hospitals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap specialising in free medical care for children.
The work done here is absolutely fantastic, all staff are on a very good wage and the hospitals are currently big enough to take in anyone who needs to be. They give the family’s money to cover transport to the hospital, and free care for pregnant women. With the ridiculously high rates of Dengue fever, TB, Malaria and then injuries from land mines or serious burns, so many kids wouldn’t have survived without the treatment.
For me the most shocking part was to hear that so many countries dont donate money just because its a free healthcare system. If the families dont pay, then they wont help. Along with this the funding for equipment is in line with the ‘economic standards’ of the area, which once again, I really struggled with, with the much higher risk of disease and illness here surely they need good equipment even more desperately. I realise thats a bit of a rant but it’s an amazing place and organisation, worth a look. 85% of their funding comes from donations.
We then headed back to the hostel an its bar with 50 cent beer, and met a few people from a Argentina, Uruguay, Belgium, t’was a good night at we ended up checking out a locals club they’d heard about… Lots of Cambodians dancing in a very reserved manner, with a special foreigners menu where everything was quadruple the price!
The music was generic but they were playing Rachel’s favourite K-Pop band on the screen, so we had a happy Rach!