Sunday, 3 May 2015

Balclutha Rotary Clubs Cambodian's experience

In September 2014 five Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Balclutha 9980 flew to Cambodia to work in the slums of Phnom Penh. They worked with thebOne-2-One Charitable Trust  that provides medical, dental care and schooling to the vulnerable and destitute families in the slum areas.  Money was raised with a $2000 District Grant, The Rotary Club of Balclutha gave $10,000, local Donations and the groups personal givings.

A mixed group of people included David Tait a Dentist, Stuart Holgate a Paramedic, Ngaire Pannett an ICU Nurse and Peter Buxton and Joan Hasler teaching english in the SOS (save our students) drop-in centre schools.  The group lived with sponsored students in Grace House which is owned by the One-2-One Charitable Trust. The dental clinic is part of Grace house and this is where Mr Tait worked along with other dental students. Orphanages and schools from around the city would bring the children including children with HIV for dental work.  Each day Mr Holgate and Ms Pannett would venture into the slums with a Cambodian nurse who had originated from a slum and had been sponsored through schooling and nursing school. She knew all the people living in the slums and those needing medical attention, water or food. Each day they visited the slums they would give out shoes and clothing they had bought at the markets.

The story that stole their hearts was a little boy called Diamond. He had HIV as did his Mother who was being treated. His little brother is free of the disease. The father was in jail. Diamond had been put into the HIV Clinic but he had run home. That little boy clung onto Mr Holgate not wanting him to leave and the mother hugged Ms Pannett in desperation for her little boy. Finally the family were taken into the Clinic and Diamond is doing fine and going to school.  Mr Buxton and Ms Hasler spent time teaching English and interacting at the SOS schools. There is a sponsored teacher who encourages the children to come to their little schools to get into a learning habit so they can go onto the public schools. Books and other school needs were given.

A day was spent out in the country with the One-2-One medical team. They were based in a sponsored Australian Compound where they work with the country people teaching them to stay and work the land, to stop them going to the cities for work, not getting it and ending up living in the slums. The medical team checked the people who came from far and wide for medical help. What surprised the group was the cleanliness of the people and their tiny shacks in amongst all the rubbish, filth and plastic bags that lay around.

Some earned a little money for food and water from recycling cans, plastic bottles and cardboard. These people have nothing but always give a smile and love a hug and are grateful for anything they receive.  This group of Rotarians from Balclutha NZ will cherish the experience forever. They could change very little, but every little bit helps and shows we do care about these impoverished people. “One Smile at a time. One life at a time”; The last three days the group bussed to Siem Reap to visit Ankor Wat. They flew home a very different group of five people.