After 3 Days at the CSC in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

So, here I am at the end of day 3 of our trip to Cambodia.  We are here to visit the Children's Surgical Centre run by Dr Jim and his team.  I am here with Ian Mullane who runs Vanda, Andy Dyer who works for Ian and helps with our training, George – ex ESPN – who is filming us and Chris Snell who, like me is one of the White Collar guys being trained for our bouts in October in Singapore.

The CSC is the beneficiary of the funds raised by Vanda's events and Ian makes reagular visits here to get involved with whats going on and give White Collar boxers, like Chris and myself, a chance to really see where the money goes.

I've lived in Asia for a while and so, I suppose, what I have seen has not suprised me a lot.  However, it is the really intimate contact that we have had with the patients, the staff, the volunteers and, above all, our emotions that has made this trip absolutely incredible at so many levels. 

For the last 2 days we have been right in the thick of things at the hospital on rounds with Dr Jim and his team and helping out with both consulations and with operations in the Operaring Theater – being involved in ways that I think none of us first timers could have imagined.  And the impact of that involvement was not, at least for me, imagined before I cam here.

Three of us have been paired with a medical student from the UK each of whom is doing a six week stint out here as part of their studies.  We have shadowed them and this has given us a unique opportunity to get involved at a level that doesn't get any closer.  Only today, I actually assisted (allbeit it with a bit of swabbing and suture snipping) on 2 hernia operations on young children and in the cleaning of a wound on a lady's foot where it had become seriosuly infected following a snake bite.  This was particularly challenging for me.  This poor lady's foort was seriosuly infected with a large area of dead skin and loads of puss and general nastiness.  And there I was looking at and helping clean a wound that was like nothing I have ever seen and would have had me reaching for the remote had it come on TV (or at least had me squinting to blur my vision)!  The other guys and some of the students were genuinely asking me if I was OK as they looked on telling me afterwards that I was gently rocking at one point and they theought I was going to collapse!  It was a struggle but I knew that I wouldn't keel over – I just had to do it.  I just had to get on with it.


It's struck me how some themes have been developing. Many of you know that I struggled briefly after sparring started at the gym.  But I just had to get on with it.  And, had I not 'just gone one with it' today then there's no way I would have done what I did.

I mentioned to Ian of Vanda today that I can see why he gets on so well with Dr Jim.  They both have a no nonsense approach and both, I think, foster and encourage an atmospehere of challenge and escaping the comfort zone.  No one ever asked any of us here if we wanted to assist with the operations (although we could easliy have said no without any embarrasement or reprecussions) – it's just the way the guys make you think – get in there, get on with it and get it done.

It's an amazing experience and one that will live me – on the one hand, forever – and on the other as I continue my training.  I now see what an incredible job these people do here with the money that is raised and I have been reminded what a liberating and empowering thing it is to not think too hard about something, to not shy away from a tough challenge and to push the boundaries of one's comfort zone.

This afternoon we visited the Killing Fields and S-21 but I'll blog about those in a day or two and get some of my own photos and video content posted up when I can sort all that out back in Singapore.

Tomorrow we will visit another 'part' of the great work done here.  It's a house where the acid burn victims have a place of relative peace to try and come to terms with their horrific wounds and get some support.

I pinced the photo above from Ian's post where you can read a bit more and see anocther couple of shots.

5 Replies to “After 3 Days at the CSC in Phnom Penh, Cambodia”

  1. Dr Carl, hehe…. I am so glad I sent an email to you and stay connected. Thanks for yr fantastic sharing…of your experiences. A life well lived! Makes me think about mine..hmm

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