HOPE Volunteer Completes Mission in Cambodia
Susan Opas, a nurse practitioner from Woodland Hills, CA, contributed to Pacific Angel 16-2, a humanitarian mission to Cambodia. In this blog, she recounts some of her experiences at the second program site.
Susan Opas is a pediatric nurse practitioner from Woodland Hills, CA who volunteered for Project HOPE on Pacific Angel 16-2, a humanitarian and civic assistance mission led by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces working alongside their U.S., Thai, Vietnamese and Australian counterparts and volunteers from nongovernmental organizations like Project HOPE in Kampot Province, Cambodia. Susan treated pediatric patients at two makeshift clinics over the course of five days in mid-June 2016. Pacific Angel 16-2 was Susan’s sixth volunteer mission with Project HOPE.
The second site of this mission was truly within farmland. The fields in the area were wide open, growing sugar cane, rice, vegetables and coconuts. This area was more established than the first site, but the classroom (our clinic site) was filled with dirt and cobwebs and was dark as a dungeon. It took a lot of time to move desks and sweep with masks on to be ready. There were two small windows on each side of the room with little ventilation. The Air Force brought a generator and fans which worked until the fuel ran out. There was no electricity, so evaluating children in near dark was going to be difficult.
We were at this site for two days: June 17-18. Among the children’s diagnoses I provided were for another heart problem (hole between the ventricles), hernia, leg pain (growing pains), anemia, fever, headaches and dehydration, stomach aches, poor eaters, and minor skin issues. However, my teammates saw a teen post-motorbike accident who had two gaping wound and had been going to the local hospital every other day to be redressed. They also saw some major hernias, suspected TB, head trauma, a history of nose bleeds and all the other imaginable childhood issues we see at home.
At the end of the second day, a small group of us took sunglasses to the local hospital and got a tour. They have the basics. There is no central monitoring in the ICU. Patients share a large room. The newborn ICU consists of two isolettes. In the maternity ward, babies are in beds with the moms. In all cases, the families stay, provide basic hygiene care and bring food.
During the five days of this mission, we provided health assessments and minor interventions – antibiotics, inhalants, anti-inflammatories, wound cleansings, looking in ears and throats – to 3,486 patients. At the least they left with vitamins, a toothbrush and sunglasses.