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Day Two at Fred Hollows Foundation eye camp

CAMBODIA | Tuesday, 19 February 2008 | Views [1088]

19.2.08

Second day of eye camp.

We heard cries of joy coming from the consult room. "I can see! I can see!" Post-op patients were sat in school chairs in lines like a classroom waiting for their turn for the doctor to unveil their new sight. This was where we met Mot Suan. Yesterday he was completely blind with cataracts in both eyes. He had been blind for over 3 years and today, he could see clearly from one eye! He was excitedly chatting to his family and friends about his miracle. He would be my case study. His reaction was out of this world. He could hardly contain his excitement! We learnt Mot Suan came from a farming family not far from the hospital. He had been struggling with blindness for so long he didn’t know what his grandchildren looked like. He couldn’t participate in the family’s duties to make rice noodles and work in the rice fields and felt like a complete burden. He said that his life was worth nothing without his eyes to see. It was mind-blowing to think about the implications of restoring his sight for himself and his family. Farming families need each and everyone working to help generate an income. Most families live on less than US$5 a day so everyone’s contribution to making money is vital. For Mot Suan, seeing again means his family will be better off and he feels he can make a hefty contribution instead of the burden he felt he was for so many years.

We drove Mot Suan home to his village where we were confronted with the problem of Mot Suan not recognising his house! He was a little distressed as we followed him around his village looking for his family. He talked to fellow villagers along the way spreading the message of his miracle sight and finally was reunited with his wife, daughter and her family. He saw his two grandchildren for the first time!

After a morning of miracles, Somin, Sophavid and I went for some lunch on the banks of the river where local women fought over who was going to cook us lunch. The food ended up being delicious but took quite a long time to come out to us. We decided next time to go for the person who offers the quickest chicken! Our leftovers were greatly appreciated by local kids who Sophavid said their parents don’t have enough food to feed them so they are forced to scavenge.

Next we embarked on a bumpy journey to the pre-Angkorian ruins of Samor Prei Kuk. We were only there for a short time but for long enough to appreciate the unique qualities of these monuments.

We had one more errand to make before we could go back to the hotel to rest. We went to Dr Kakada’s house in Kampong Thom to pick up medical supplies for tomorrow and had an unusual Khmer snack of sliced unripe mango with a fish sauce/sugar/chilli flake dipping sauce! After returning to the hotel I listened through my interviews from today and was secretly hoping my feast on unripe mango with supposed gut healing properties wouldn’t end up as a literal ‘flush out’ tomorrow!

Tags: Doctors, hospitals & health

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