Why I Support CSC

September 11, 2023

In 2008, my husband and I were in a foreign country in search of an English-speaking news station; we turned on the BBC News and found a story called “Cambodia Surgical Ward”.

At that time in our lives, we had been searching for a meaningful (but not risky) medical volunteer experience to fill our lives once we retired. We found it in CSC and have been returning every year since 2008 (15 years!) to volunteer our time and bring equipment/supplies to support CSC’s mission to improve the quality of life for disabled Cambodian children and adults, and develop the skills of Cambodian healthcare professionals. I know that my contributions are making a difference in the lives of Cambodians.

Many well-meaning medical volunteers fly into developing countries, perform multiple surgeries over several days, …. and then they leave. What Dr. Jim and his team have done for Cambodians in the past 25 years can be summarized by the famous quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The difference for CSC - and why you should consider financial support - is that an important part of the mission is to train local doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers - crucial for the country’s long-term sustainability. Skilled surgeons from around the world visit CSC at their own expense (or sponsored by a separate NGO) to mentor local staff to do surgery not covered in Cambodian medical schools. CSC also fills an access gap, because quality healthcare is limited for the poor and disabled, especially in rural areas.  Patients may travel up to 8 hours to seek care at CSC because where they live, they cannot afford it, or it isn’t available. For many disabled Cambodians, their ability to work - even in low-wage jobs or farming -  directly impacts their economic stability and that of their families. Returning to work ensures a continued income source, reducing the risk of poverty and enhancing their overall quality of life. Having surgery at CSC has enhanced the lives of thousands of Cambodians who are able to support their families.

Please visit our DONOR page and consider an ongoing donation to support CSC. You won't regret it.

Author: Ellen Interlandi

Ellen, a registered nurse, and her husband Brian, an anesthesiologist, have been active volunteers at CSC since 2008. Ellen has undergraduate degrees in both Nursing and Spanish Literature, and a graduate degree in Health Management. Since 2020, Ellen has volunteered in the role of Stakeholder Relations, connecting with our generous supporters, interacting with visiting surgeons and students, and disseminating updates on Children's Surgical Centre.

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