Equipped to Care for Their Own

December 10, 2013 • Cambodia
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A Maternal Child Health program is providing local volunteers and medical professionals with the tools to improve the health of women and children in remote Cambodia

Cambodia has endured waves of suffering for decades. The poverty level is alarming, and poor health overshadows the lives of many people. It is a sad reality that mothers and children in isolated parts of the country commonly fall victim to easily preventable illnesses.

To help alleviate this suffering, Samaritan’s Purse started a Maternal Child Health program in the remote Kratie province, which has one of the country’s most vulnerable populations. The program equips leaders with the knowledge to improve the health and well-being of mothers and children in their communities.

A Young Mother Volunteers for Her Village

Mala is a young mother of two boys. Like most in her community, she is a farmer who toils from dawn to dusk in order to provide for her family.

The living conditions are very poor. Mala has witnessed many people suffer and die because they don’t know how to prevent or treat diseases. Children are often malnourished and endure endless diarrhea. Despite these difficulties, Mala has held onto her dream of a better future for the community.

When Samaritan’s Purse started the Maternal Child Health program, Mala saw an opportunity to turn her dream into reality. While others went to work on the farms, Mala decided to stay to meet with our staff and learn how she could be a part of improving the village’s health.

“No other organization has come to help us before,” Mala said during the initial meeting. “I want to learn more about health and to help my neighbors. I want to cooperate with Samaritan’s Purse staff wholeheartedly.”

Mala signed up to be a health volunteer for the program. After receiving training, she is helping to spread important lessons in Maternal Child Health throughout the village and partnering with Samaritan’s Purse and the health center staff to ensure that all children and pregnant mothers receive vaccinations.

She is also encouraging women to visit the health center immediately if they think they are pregnant.

Mala is already recruiting others to join her as a volunteer, and she thanked Samaritan’s Purse for bringing hope to her village.

“Good health is better than a lot of wealth,” she said.

Healthcare Professionals Gain Tools

For many years, healthcare professionals in the Kratie province have worked with very limited resources. Building the capacity of the health system is one of the primary goals of the Maternal Child Health program.

Maternal-child-health-gift-catalog-boyEarlier this year, Samaritan’s Purse facilitated specialized training for all key healthcare staff in the province. Doctors from the hospitals and health center staff attended a weeklong course to learn how to identify and treat children with acute malnutrition.

Mr. Chin Sarat, the head of the Thrapeangsrae health center, was one of those in attendance. Prior to the training, many healthcare workers, including Mr. Sarat, didn’t have a sufficient understanding of malnutrition or the tools to address it.

“All the years I’ve worked at the health center, I didn’t know how to identify children suffering from malnutrition. I didn’t know how to measure them or treat them,” he said. “Because of the lack of understanding, we may have left many children untreated in the past.”

Mr. Sarat greatly appreciated the training and believes that his knowledge and capacity to help children has increased. He spoke with gratitude and optimism.

“Samaritan’s Purse is the first organization to come and help us like this. I will also share this knowledge with parents. I’m hopeful that we can fight malnutrition in my area.”