Mission to Cambodia: Freedom’s Promise School Clinic

Today (Thursday, 5/25) was the fourth day of our trip, but with travel was our second full day in Phnom Penh, Cambodia! After spending yesterday exploring the city and learning more about the history, we were going to engage in the community around us through a variety of ways. Following breakfast at the hotel, our group of fifteen split into three different groups. One group went with a Social Worker to do HIV home visits and another group went to a local hospital to assist with check-offs for their staff. The group I was with was six of us going to a local school through the organization Freedom’s Promise. At the school we would be holding a clinic for Well Child Checks.

As we arrived in the area with the school, the van dropped us off across the street and walked through a small street, similar to an alleyway. The bleak reality of these peoples’ living conditions shook me. Small rooms, which consisted of little more than dividing walls and a cover were homes for families. Running water and simply a place for trash were non-existent. After walking along the row of homes, we were then in the area with the school. It consisted of several classrooms, an office, and a library. A teacher directed us to their covered play area with tables and chairs to use for our clinic. Lauren and I, both nursing students, set up to do height, weight, vital signs, and an eye chart. The two Doctorate of Nursing students, Kim and Paige did thorough assessments. Dr. Wolford and Dr. Massie were assisting anywhere and everywhere – from aiding in assessments to helping prescribe to keeping kids entertained as they waited.

A health issue noticed in nearly every child was tooth decay. This may seem somewhat insignificant to us and an easy fix, but for these kids it can be so much more. If further decay occurs, they could end up without teeth or an infection. While the United States has fluorinated water to help prevent this, these children come from families without running water (and Cambodia’s water isn’t drinkable, much less fluorinated). For the most part, brushing their teeth isn’t a priority. A toothbrush here costs $1, which seems insignificant to us. Yet, for many of these families, that is a day’s wages – not to consider the need for toothpaste or the lack of access to clean water. This simple issue made me realize even further how we take so much for granted back at home.

Dr. Wolford, a pediatric nurse practitioner, made an important point at the beginning of the day. She said that “Kids were kids, wherever you go.” This simple statement eased some of the nerves about not speaking the same language, as I found this reminder to be so true. Smiles, laughter, and even many games are so universal. Even if it was after a little misunderstanding, we learned their games as they did cartwheels over a string made with rubber bands. They learned limbo and we played their version of jump rope. As they waited for the next part of the assessment, Lauren and I were taught some of the shapes in Khmer. We sang “Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes” and taught some boys how to flip a half full water bottle to make it land correctly and cheered after many attempts for each of us. These kids were full of joy, despite their circumstances and I think that was the most powerful part of the entire experience.

Mission to Cambodia: First Day

Today was my first day in Cambodia. My group and I woke up early, had breakfast, and walked through the city to the river. Most notably it was hot, and I sweated a lot. The city was pretty and the people were nice, so that made the heat slightly more bearable. Later on in the day, I went with a group to visit the S-21 prison museum. S-21 was first a school before the Khmer Rouge took power. The Khmer soldiers decimated the school and turned it into one of many torture camps used by the Khmer Rouge during the Cambodian genocide. Their prisoners were held in hardly livable conditions, tortured daily, then killed slowly and painfully after they had given confessions to crimes they never committed. In each of the buildings, there were pictures of the prisoners and the cells they lived and died in.  The whole experience was hard to swallow, but I forced myself to look at the pictures, the torture devices, and the bones of the prisoners. I forced myself because it’s easy to look away, to not think about it and forget it happened – especially to an American. However, I see it as the least I can do for the people who can’t look away, and who can’t forget no matter how hard they try. They people who died there had no rights, no freedom, and no say in what happened to them, but I believe they have a right to be remembered; and I believe that it is our duty to remember them and the injustice of the Khmer Rouge so that those injustices will not be repeated. I think S-21 is a perfect example of what the Khmer Rouge did to Cambodia: destroy education, replace it with misery and death, and then leave it to be forgotten. There was a monument constructed at S-21 declaring that the information there is the right and property of humanity as to not forget the cruelty we are capable of.

Hope Hospital & Home Visits

Sarah Balding

Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Sarah Balding, Nursing Student

 

We started the morning early again, eating breakfast and doing our devotional around 7 am.  After we ate the group split up and got ready to head for the day.  I went with Kate, Jenni, Megan, Tiffany, and Amanda to do 4 more home visits.  The rest of the team headed to HOPE to work in the hospital and the outpatient clinic.  Once we arrived at the home care office we were greeted by the social workers, and got ready to head to the market.  We were able to get the same food and hygiene supplies for each family again.  The bags of rice and the other food items are able to feed the families for anywhere between 2 weeks to 1 month.  This is extremely helpful and will help ease the financial burden on some of these families.  Once we had gathered all of our supplies we loaded everything up on the Tuk-Tuks and headed out towards the first home.

Continue reading

Home Visits, Nursing Check-Offs, & Hope Hospital

Sarah Hintz

Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Sarah Hintz, Nursing Student

 

Today (Thu 5/21) some of the Community Health clinical groups were able to partner with HOPE organization and participate in HIV home visits.  Even though it was only for half of a day, I feel that it was one of the most impacting parts of our trip.  There were only four of us; Cassie, Dani, Sarah (our wonderful social worker and leader during the visits), and myself, who went on the home visits.  Other groups went to the hospital to help with nursing check-offs, which we eventually also got to be involved in.  It was so exciting to be with these nurses and see them take the knowledge they knew to relate it to real-life situations and understand the concepts of what they were learning. Continue reading

Clinic and Sihanouk Hospital

Jenni Massie

Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Jenni Massie, Nursing Student

 

Today (Wed 5/20) was a great day.  We (Belmont Nursing) had our first outdoor free clinic under a beautiful tree-covered veranda that provided shade so we could care for the Cambodian people.

JM1

JM2

A room at the guest house adjacent to the veranda was used for breast and pelvic exams.  The organizations Precious Women and the Kone Kaming clinic provided this space.  Our clinic also benefited from having a student of social services (Sarah) and physical therapy (Kate), this has allowed us to expand the care of the clinic beyond nursing.

The Clinic was set up in stations.  Triage is responsible for vital signs, height and weight, getting a short history, and chief complaint.  The assessment station, where I had the opportunity to work, further explored the patient’s history, performed a focused physical assessment, made a diagnosis, and recommended treatment or medication.  Then the patient was directed to the pharmacy and treatment area. Continue reading

Church/Shop/Rest

Hodge

Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Sarah Hodge, Nursing Student

 

Today (Sun 5/25) was a great day! We attended church at Phnom Penh Church of Christ.  The church is filled with the most beautiful of souls.  People are so welcoming and inviting.  The service was filled with spirited worship, a baptism, and communion.  I was extra relieved to see Pheap, a friend of Dr. Taplin, who I have formed a friendship with.

We then ventured down to the river that runs through the city to a restaurant known as FCC, a traditional place for foreigners to come and meet.  It was fancier than where we have gone to eat.  The food lived up to the high prices!  It was exceptional.  Comparably, the view over the river and the palace was fantastic.  We were welcomed with a breeze to cool us off. Continue reading

Teaching at Asia Institute of Sciences School of Nursing

Erin Cantrell

Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Erin Cantrell, Nursing Student

 

 

Today (Sat 5/23) we were warmly welcomed to the Asia Institute of Sciences in order to teach other nursing students:

erin pic 4

erin pic 3

We were each split up into groups and taught the following topics: SBAR (a communication tool for nurses at shift change), physical assessment, vital signs, hand hygiene, signs/symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as physical therapy techniques.  There were several classrooms full of students eager to learn our topics.  As we finished each presentation, we went to the next classroom to meet more smiling faces.  The students were great in that they had many questions to ask which kept us on our toes.  It was nice to work alongside my classmates and even more fun to work with Jenni Massie, who is currently in the Masters program: Continue reading

Sonja Kill Hospital & Travel Back to Phnom Penh

Sarah Hintz

Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Sarah Hintz, Nursing Student

 

Today (Tue 5/19) was our second and last day at Sonja Kill Hospital. Many of us woke up to the sun’s rays peering through the “mountains of Kampot”; however, less than 12 hours before the break of dawn, we stood under the covering of the star-filled sky.  Certainly, the most star-lit sky I have seen in my entire 21 years of existences.  During our time here we have experienced, that from the moment when we wake up to the moment when we fall asleep, we are surrounded by Beauty.  It is a beauty that goes beyond the word itself because it carries much more meaning than that.  It carries comfort, peace, and humility.  Surrounded by such beauty we are humbled to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Just by simply being on the hospital grounds we are in awe of the Creator of the Universe and feel a part of His continued work with humanity.  We have the opportunity to partner with God’s heart, what He is doing, and what He has planned for Hope International (the organization that supports Sonja Kill Hospital). Continue reading

Sonja Kill Hospital

Rachel Finn

Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Rachel Finn, Nursing Student

 

Today (Mon 5/18) marks the end of the vacation part of our trip, and the beginning of the true work we set out for!  Today is our first day at Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital, which is located in Kampot, Cambodia!

Sonja Kill Entrance

They are a charity hospital whose goal is to give affordable healthcare to patients in need.  Payment of services is strictly based upon the patient’s ability to pay; the poor get treated for free while the ones who can afford it pay a fee.  It is staffed mostly by Cambodians; however, many doctors and nurses come from abroad to work and help train the staff.  Our, us Belmont people’s, main mission for this stop is to help further educate the doctors and nurses here, treat some patients, and help in anyway the hospital needs. Continue reading

Travel to Cambodia & Arrival

Aly Webb
Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Aly Webb, Nursing Student

 

I plopped down, out of breath and sweaty, in the front seat of a friend’s car. It was 5:45 am on the dot. I’m late. I look at my buddy Evan, my right hand man for this kind of stuff, as he turns on the car. It’s clear he knows me too well when he immediately recognizes my visible stress,  “Come on Aly Webb, I got this. I can get you to the airport in ten minutes. Tops. I give him a disbelieving raised eyebrow.

As he makes a right turn onto the interstate I freak out, “Dude! The airport’s that way!” He tries to not laugh at my obvious lack of confidence in his sense of direction. “Aly Webb I got this.

I, of course, am still not convinced and attempt to slyly look up directions to the airport. Continue reading