Monday, June 28, 2010

HOPE Volunteers Help Mother with Young Twins

Preparing to leave the USNS Mercy today is a mother with young twins who remains the focus of substantial help from several Project HOPE volunteers. Both of her five-year-old boys are ill and malnourished, living on her breast milk; she does not have the means to provide them either solid food or a set of clothes.

To get to the Sihanoukville Provincial Hospital for the Medical Civic Assistance Project (MedCAP), the three journeyed from the remote Cambodian countyryside more than one hour by bus. The stronger twin came to the pediatrician with such a large oozing abscess on his forehead that he needed to be brought to the ship for surgery, now successfully completed. His twin brother, the tinier Voeng, was the most anemic child ever seen by the doctor. He was found to have blood cells whose shape suggests very serious illness. For diagnosis and treatment, he needs further lab tests than the ship can provide; but the family lacks the money to obtain these. Unfortunately the family also lacks access to any refrigerator and so cannot go home with the preferred antibiotic; the mother is being taught to mix an alternative powdered one instead.

The family will be discharged in somewhat improved health and spirits; they will have a helpful set of paperwork and a precise referral to a hospital near their village. Clearly more is needed, and so a set of connections has been made with social service agencies by way of USNS Mercy Navy Chaplain Horne. While the Mercy has been at anchor in the port of Sihanoukville, he and the other chaplains have overseen substantial community service work by Project HOPE volunteers and others; and the chaplains have also facilitated charitable donations of goods to groups that care for the needy, including those with a profile like this family. Especially because his family has no money, no address, and no phone, getting Voeng the help he needs will be a great challenge.

Pictured here is the family among many hard-working Project HOPE volunteers on the Pediatric Ward. The nurses and University of SanDiego nursing students here are: Fran Bauer, Peggy Goebel, Kimberly Fong (student), Kathy Templin, Will Flores (student), Peggy Holt, and Jacqueline Iseri (student).

Thanks for reading - Mary Hamill, Ph.D., Project HOPE PAO

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