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Lowell Water Festival Aids Hospital in Cambodia

Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope notice board at Lowell Water Festival 2011.
Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope notice board at Lowell Water Festival 2011.

Among the nearly 100 booths set up at this year's Water Festival in Lowell, Mass., was Hope Worldwide.

The booth was established to help raise funds for the Sihanouk Center of Hope, a hospital in Phnom Penh that provides healthcare to some of the nation’s poorest.

“One of the great things about working at the Cambodian Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope is that is has a tremendous amount of support from many different organizations,” said Milton Drake, a doctor and the Northwest’s director for Hope Worldwide.

The Center of Hope not only treats general illnesses, he said, but it also treats HIV and AIDS patients free of charge.

The center began 15 years ago, as a way to help treat Cambodians who could not afford expensive care or medicine.

Debbie Drake, Milton’s wife, is also a volunteer for Hope Worldwide. She had come to the Lowell festival to help raise funds for the center with the help of some of the tens of thousands of Cambodians and other Southeast Asians who might come through.

“We want to make them aware of the hospital in Cambodia and the good things being done over there after the tragic time in their country,” she said.

The center has served more than 1 million patients, she said.

“I think we’ve ended up with more awareness than money, but it’s good,” she said. “Awareness is good. Awareness will bring more money. We trust in God that the funds will come.”

Vandara Chhum, a Cambodian volunteer at Hope Worldwide, said churches around Lowell had raised $5,000 from a basketball campaign to send to the Center of Hope, which is in Phnom Penh, and to the Sonja Kill Hospital Center of Hope, in Kampot province.

She said she hoped to explain to Cambodians at the festival the work of the two centers.

“Money to run day-to-day operations come from companies, while doctors from the US and other [countries] volunteer to work free of charge,” she said.