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Ogden/Reimche-Vu mission treats hundreds of patients in Cambodia


Dr. James Ogden and Dr., David Reimche-Vu are on a medical mission trip to Cambodia and Vietnam. Ogden writes of the team’s experiences in the second article from Cambodia.

We worked our last day of clinic at the orphanage/ church on Thursday. In four days, the eye clinic saw 237 patients and the dentists saw 269. The two Cambodian dentists did mostly extractions, but Dr. David did quite a few fillings. Several were on patients with decayed front teeth, and now they have a good looking smile.

One very interesting patient came to the eye clinic with some glasses that he had made himself. He took a light gray pair of Ray Ban sunglasses and cut a sphere lens in two and glued the two pieces to the sunglasses so that he could look straight ahead through them and underneath when he wanted to read. The prescription was about right and we gave him some better glasses. I was amazed at his ingenuity.

After we finished the patients on Thursday, the orphanage kids sang for us and then we gave all 32 of them one of the kid packets that the United Methodist Women put together for us. The packs have soap, pencils, paper, crayons, toys, sunglasses and some other goodies. The kids were thrilled and we got some really good pictures of them. It was like Christmas for them.

Yesterday, we drove to Takeo in the bus—a nine-hour ride, and when we arrived, there was a steady downpour. On Sunday there is a national election and we passed truckloads of people with pink T-shirts and hats for the “Cambodian People’s Party.” The bus could not go down the narrow road to the bed and breakfast where we are staying, so we had to unload the trunks from the bus and store them at a house near the main road until we leave for Viet Nam tomorrow. The guest house where we are is really nice. It is surrounded by rice fields and has a lot of trees on the grounds. There are several families who live in the several houses there, and they rent out rooms to people like us. It is a real cultural experience as there is no air conditioning (fans, which help) and some of the houses have only one bathroom for everybody who is staying in that building. The one that I am in has two sleeping rooms with a bathroom and shower in each. They serve three home cooked meals a day and prepared vegetarian food for those who wanted it.

This morning, we worked on a project that our team decided to do. We financed and helped build a toilet in a village across several rice fields from where we are staying. We helped dig a hole one meter in diameter and one meter deep. This was done mostly with hoes and the dirt lifted out with baskets designed for that purpose. Kosal, Gabe, and I did most of the digging. Then some of the village people worked with us and we moved three concrete tiles into place and cemented them together. The people who had started the wooden parts had to leave, but were to come back and work on that this afternoon. We plan to go check on the project this evening. The materials cost about $160, and the toilet will serve several families who presently have “nothing to go on.” We visited some of the local people after we finished working on the toilet and watched some boys netting fish from a pond where they are raised and stored until caught and eaten. There was also a woman there who had suffered a stroke, and Kosal evaluated her condition, looked at her present medication, and gave her some advice and encouragement. He is going to be a really great doctor.

This afternoon after lunch, we got a tuk tuk and went into the city of Takeo where we visited the Takeo Eye Hospital. This facility was financed by several groups from Germany, Holland, and some other countries and looks like a really modern, completely up-to-date eye care center to me. Even though they were closed today due to the upcoming election tomorrow, the administrator and another technician who works there met us at the door and gave us a tour. The operating rooms are all pressure controlled so that there are no air currents from one room to another when the doors are open. Also, the offices, exam rooms, operating rooms are all air conditioned. Patients are charged for services on a sliding scale according to income, and ophthalmology residents from Cambodia do their training there. I was really impressed by what I saw there today.

Tomorrow we plan to leave here for Viet Nam in two vans at 7 a.m. John estimates that it will take two to three hours to get to the border, and we think that everything is going to go well. John talked to his contacts there last night, and they do not expect us to have any problems with the crossing. After that, it is another two-hour ride to where we will be staying and working for four more days. Everyone is healthy and getting along well.

Until next time.

Jim Ogden


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