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Matt's Great Adventure

Matt, ACA
Rose Cambodia Rehabilitation Centre, Cambodia

I had quite a start to the working week! On exiting my nearest toilet which is located next to the operating theatre, I noticed what I thought was the carcass of a chicken, surrounded by fluid inside a large jar.

Intrigued, I took a closer look. All I will say here is that it wasn't a chicken. I guess these things are part of working in basic hospital facilities.
 
Today RCRC had an international visitor from one of its donor organisations. Diane from Rose USA spent the afternoon at the Rehabilitation Centre whilst traveling through South East Asia. Diane helps to coordinate some fundraising activities in the USA, including street hockey. Such charitable events raise money which (and I can now vouch for this having seen the bank statements) does actually reach it intended destination. The funds are used very wisely with much care and consideration. 
 
I’m a cynic. Prior to taking on this assignment I have always had the notion that cash donations were either skimmed by charity collectors or went to pay the salary of charity chief executives. The reality is that without the chief execs the charities would not be able to operate. And there are many kind people providing Advisory Board functions for free to assist and oversee the CEO and spending. 
 
And organisations like RCRC need to be encouraged and build capacity: A lady walked into the Rehabilitation Centre last week having been told about the RCRC by a villager. She had lost the use of her arm due to receiving poor medical care (there is nobody to sue here). This resulted in a loss of income as she was unable to work.  Following a consultation with RCRC physiotherapists, the patient left with increased mobility. If she maintains her recommended course of rehabilitation (all provided for free through RCRC) 85% mobility will be achieved and the patient would be able to work again. Perhaps UK politicians might like to take note. Reduce benefits and instead fund, via the NHS, targeted rehabilitative care to get people back into work. 
 
Fortunately, Diane arrived just in time for yet another amazing lunch. Today we had my current favourite –pork with eggs in a sweet ginger sauce.
 
We also ate pork with greens with lime and coriander, fish soup and fish with papaya (and of course, for vegetarians, stir fried tofu). It’s all prepared with so much care. The family who cook the food smile with delight if we finish a dish and ask for more (well – it’s a fixed price!). Whilst my Khmer is not great, a form of sign language allowed the family to explain that because I am tall (taller than the average Cambodian) I must therefore eat more!
 
Joining Darong, Lee, Diane and myself for lunch were the physiotherapy students from Curtain University in Perth who had just returned from observing Sokny, the senior physiotherapist at RCRC, provide hydrotherapy treatment to five disabled children. The students seem to wear their Curtain Uni purple shirts everywhere and it makes them look like cheerleaders, not physios!
 
Following lunch and after several days of discussion RCRC implemented a new purchase ledger system today. OK, this is boring for non-accountants but it’s what I’m here to do. What I didn’t expect was smiles. It creates more work for Rith, the Finance Officer, but he both understood and was genuinely pleased  with the new system. Cambodian culture is very hierarchical. Addressing a person by name is rare: grandfather/grandmother, uncle/auntie, nephew/niece or brother/sister (in order of familiarity) are terms used based not only age but also on seniority.
 
Rith is often hesitant to approach Darong given that he is the director and therefore very senior. The new system means that Rith must take a list of invoices to Darong to authorise. The process encourages dialogue between Darong and Rith and both men are visibly happier this afternoon.    
 
On my way home from work this evening Darong asked "You want to see lady dance?". Darong is a very respectable man and I was both shocked, concerned but mildly intrigued by his question. I was very relieved to see it was a fitness class, Cambodian style, costing a mere 1000 Riel (25 cents) for a full hour and which takes place along the sidewalk.

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