The star of the Auckland theatre scene, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, welcomed guests to a Rose Charities NZ fundraising night with Silo Theatre during their season of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins. She is pictured with Rose NZ chairperson, Trish Gribben.
The musical black comedy, which received rave reviews, was followed by a soiree where hand-woven silk scarves from Cambodia were sold to raise money for the Rose Eye Clinic in Phnom Penh. By a stroke of lucky timing, Jennifer herself had visited Cambodia with her family, returning only four days before the event. “I couldn’t believe the poverty we saw there,” she told the 100 people gathered.
Rose Charities NZ’s patron, Dame Silvia Cartwright, was also in the news the same week, as a member of the international war crimes tribunal which announced its first verdict on Dutch, the notorious torturer and killer of Tuol Sleng prison.
Around 60 scarves were sold from a table which carried a photograph of patients waiting at the clinic and a sign saying: Buy a scarf and give a stranger in Phnom Penh an eye operation. $40 — the scarves have been donated; all proceeds go to the clinic.
The event raised nearly $4000 which is sufficient to restore sight to 160 poor blind Cambodians
After returning from an inspiring trip to Cambodia, I wanted to share with you some of the uplifting stories and important work being carried out by Rose Charities in Cambodia. Here are stories of the courageous patients I had the pleasure of meeting and who are being treated at Rose facilities.
1. FIRST STOP: Rose Charities Cambodia Eye Clinic
One of the most endearing people I met during my travels was little Bunmeng, a 7 1/2 month old who travelled all the way from Svay Rieng province, a four hour journey, for eye care. I met Bunmeng and his family as they were waiting to be seen for a consultation. Bunmeng’s mother, aunt and older brother traveled four hours via taxi with him to the Rose eye clinic in order to be treated for abnormal eye discharge. Despite the long trip, Bunmeng was cared for at the Rose eye clinic free of charge. Run by a skilled Cambodian team of experts led by Dr. Hang Vra, the facility is the largest free eye clinic in Cambodia, which conducts 50 consultations each day and performs 50-60 eye surgeries a week.
2. SECOND STOP: Rose Cambodia Rehabilitation Centre (RCRC)
RCRC is comprised of a stand-alone physical therapy facility which predominantly treats traffic accident patients, and a maternity center within the neighboring Chey Chumneas Referral hospital which provides pre and post-natal care. RCRC is led by two part-time Cambodian physical therapists, Ms. Chhay Leangkhy and Mr. Phok Somet, with volunteer support and mentorship by the experienced physio Zoe Blair of New Zealand. RCRC care is offered free of charge for indigent patients, and those who can afford a nominal fee pay per session. Despite the unlucky and discouraging accidents that led patients to RCRC, a pleasant atmosphere permeates the centre.
Meet Maryne. Only 17, Maryne comes to RCRC on a daily basis as soon as school lets out, after her left leg was crushed by her moto when a dog aimlessly ran into the street. She began coming to Rose for physical therapy after being treated in a public hospital for her acute care in addition to private home staff. Unfortunately, rehab is not included in hospitals as post-op care in Cambodia, both one of the reasons for RCRC’s inception and it’s high-demand among patients.
Yi, 69, is a nun who began coming to RCRC after breaking her arm. She initially visited a local traditional Khmer healer, who mistakenly treated her wrist. In the months since the injury, her arm has healed itself, however, Yi’s shoulder was affected from the strain caused by her sling and she’s in severe pain. RCRC is working on a holistic approach to strengthening her upper body.
RCRC’s newest patient is Chanrith, a 3 1/2 year old born with a congenital disjointed knee. His parents were not aware of the severity of his knee problems until recently, and while Chanrith has the ability to walk, he limps and experiences pain. RCRC is working on developing a physiotherapy program for Chanrith, in conjunction with the local children’s surgery center which is assessing whether or not he will need an operation.
3. THIRD STOP: Kosal’s home (a RCRC patient) in rural Takhmao outside Phnom Penh
I have one final, heartfelt story for you.
The most captivating and inspiring story from my visit to Cambodia by far is that of Kosal. The breadwinner of his family, Kosal (30) supports his 88 year-old grandmother, his parents who cannot work due to debilitating illnesses, and his younger sister. While working at a construction site, the board Kosal was standing on unexpectedly snapped, falling a considerable distance and injuring his hip. Unable to cover the cost of the recommended surgery, Kosal remained bed-ridden for two months without the ability to walk, let along support his family. After learning about RCRC from a relative, Kosal began regularly attending physical therapy sessions at the centre, and in only a few weeks time (with a lot of dedicated care) was able to begin walking again. After marked improvement, Kosal has now reduced his RCRC visits to only once/week, and does the remaining exercises at home. Kosal has returned to part-time work and hopes to be fully employed again soon.
These are just a few of the courageous patients being treated at Rose facilities. In a country where post op physical therapy is rarely offered and where many needy patients are priced out of eye care, multiple Rose facilities are making it possible for these patients to get better so they can live healthy lives. For some that means returning to a job so you can support your family, it means forgetting that you used to limp and enjoying your childhood, and it means spending more time studying and enjoying adolescence. We all have our own stories. Become part of the Rose Charities story and you can help patients like Kosal, Chanrith, Maryne and Yi. #RoseCharities supports #PeopleHelpingPeople. Show your support here.
All and every congratulation to Will and Henry Midgley (NZ) and Lee Schab (Vancouver, Canada) for the epic journey to Mongolia in their little 1000cc second-hand Suzuki car. 12 countries and thousands of kilometers many over the most difficult roads. The photos below give a pictorial account of the trip. The team made Rose Charities one of their two sponsored organizations. The whole Rose network is hugely grateful. To date almost 1000 pounds have been raised for Rose international projects. To donate (click)
The start …
Mike Webber (Rose NZ Trustee) delivers a wonderful NZ donated Topcon operating microscope to Dr Hang Vra (left) and the Rose Eye Clinic. Mike and Anne Webber brought up from NZ and assembled it on site. The donation will give considerable upgrade in the clinics remarkable services for Cambodian blind and/or in need of eye surgery. The scope was taken up to Cambodia by Mike and Anne Webber and assembled there by them on site by them.
The Rose Charities Cambodia Eye Clinic / Sight Center has treated over 100,000 patients in the last 10 years. It also runs an outreach program, taking eye screening, out to rural areas as well as promoting eye health.The clinic was founded in 1997. though had to be entirely re-equipped when it was looted by an expatriate orchestrated group of thieves in 2003.
First three weeks through Europe and Turkey to Georgia
After leaving the UK the participants re-grouped for another party in a castle near Prague and again on a beach in Romania. Our three then headed off to Suceava in Western Romania in order to go north around the Black Sea only to find they could not get a visa for Moldovia. Why? !
They then headed back down the Southern Route via a beach in Bulgaria
After a no doubt steamy long drive they reached the middle of Turkey investigated the fascinating underground city of Derinkuyu which wasdiscovered in 1963. It could accommodate 10,000 people, had about 20 underground levels, had its own wells and ventilation system as well as an 8km tunnel to another underground city.
And nearby rock churches and interesting geology
They then went to Georgia and visited a city ‘Batumi’ at the furthest end of the Black Sea before heading for Tbilisi- poor roads and they don’t have a map but they are now off to Armenia.