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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Update-Friends without a border

Back in the mid 90's I called Kenru Izu as I had seen his photos from Angkor Wat, a place I had always wanted to travel to. He told me about wanting to build a children's hospital there and had started an organization "Friends Without a Border" with other photographers and artists in New York. After seeing the plans for the hospital in NYC I joined Friends and made my first trip to Cambodia. The fighting with the Khmer Rouge delayed the construction but the hospital opened in 1999. In addition to treating children the hospital had the goal of training Cambodian doctors and other health workers as the Khmer Rouge had killed all medical and other professionals in the war. On my last visit to Angkor Wat there were health workers from numerous countries working at the hospital but the goal had always been to train the Cambodians and turn the operation over to them.

In 2011 we treated 129,081 patients and late in the year saw our one millionth patient. The Cambodian Minister of Health calls the hospital "one of only three essential healthcare institutions in the country" and the only children's hospital on the list.

In January of this year we realized our goal of the independence for the Ankor Hospital for Children making it a self-reliant hospital run by the Cambodian staff. Friends will continue to provide funding. Instead of just sitting back and declaring victory the goal is now to construct "Friends Children's Hospital" in Luang Prabang, Laos continuing the success in Cambodia in another needy area in Southeast Asia.

Thanks to all of you that joined Friends or who bought prints I sold to raise money for the hospital. You are part of an amazing success story which is now continuing on in Laos. If you are not a member please join. If you ever get a chance to visit Angkor Wat stop and see the hospital. You will be impressed, even if you are not easily impressed.

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