Daniel Chan is a Cambodian-American doctor who survived the Khmer Rouge and says he was fortunate to escape it. Now he is determined to give something back. That’s why he’ll be traveling with other doctors to Cambodia in next year as part of a medical mission to provide health care to some of the country’s neediest.
“I came from Cambodia,” he told VOA Khmer. “I saw it and lived it. Now our lives here have gotten better, and if we don’t help the poor, it’s like we are heartless.”
Chan, a family medicine practitioner who is the vice president of the Cambodian Health Professionals Association of America, will travel with a team of doctors and volunteers to Koh Kong province from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4. They will provide free medicine and medical and dental care. They will also meet with Cambodian doctors, nurses, students and volunteers to share their experience.
“I want to help them because they need help, just like I did, 20 or 30 years ago, during the Khmer Rouge,” he said.
This will be the association’s second mission to Cambodia. Last year, the Long Beach, Calif., organization saw around 5,000 people, much more than they were prepared for.
This year, they have more volunteers, said Tang Song, who is a doctor and the president of the association. “In the next mission, we hope to add more doctors and physicians that have specializations in optometry or even surgery,” he said. “And we need more volunteers in dental care, because it’s highly needed in Cambodia.”
“Some people had never seen a doctor once, even though they were in their fifties,” said Visal Nga, a specialist in internal medicine who will travel again to Cambodia this year. “Problems like heartburn, back pain, we can give them medicine, but some people have chronic diseases like diabetes that really need to be taken care of.”
Last year, the group had expected to see some 500 patients a day. Instead, they saw 1,000. This year, they hope they will be prepared. The doctors say that even though they will be in Koh Kong, anyone from Cambodia is welcome.