Cambodia Blog (2) Reading around the subject

August 11, 2014

Cambodia Blog (2)  Reading around the subject

So here we are nearly a month on from the induction day and I am no less excited about the prospect of heading for Cambodia than I was.

I have just worked out that there are actually only five more pay days to put enough by, to survive the month in Cambodia.  Not that I will not be given some subsistence funds, but I will have to survive a couple of weeks with no salary and I need to cover my commitments at home. My month is two weeks annual leave and two weeks unpaid from the NHS.  I do not know how people survive on longer volunteering trips. This really has focussed my attention on how little time there is left.

Only Four more blogs before I go. The most mind blowing quote I have come across so far is:-

“Cambodia is not just like every other developing country. A quarter of the population died. You can’t sweep that under the rug.” (2014 Globalpost.com)

I had been aware of the Khmer Rouge and the tragedy that was inflicted upon the Cambodian people. I was a teenager. The Killing Fields movie has been seen and absorbed since.  But when I read the above, it really made me realise that this beautiful country is literally rising from the ashes.  But they are very old ashes, of a country with thousands of years of history before the Khmer Rouge. My lonely planet guide is proving a godsend.

I again am feeling that feeling I had, when I first learned of the RCM project. I really do want to help in any way to enable maternity services in Cambodia to move forward.  The emphasis has to be on making the care of women and babies a priority. Healthy babies lead to healthy adults, for a future healthy nation. It’s about building.


Malaria, floods and a dam

I have also found out a great deal about malaria and will go armed with mosquito nets, repellent, Vitamin B1 etc.  These insects love me wherever I encounter them and I was not aware, till reading around the topic, that they are alive and well and breeding so well in this part of the world.

There are parts of Cambodia that flood each year usually in September. In 2013 the Tonle Sap Lake burst its banks and the Battambang region was underwater. Even areas of Phnom Penh were affected.  I am pleased that my visit is planned for January hopefully the water will have receded, but it does pose a question as to how to plan maternity services for this annual event.  Rural populations are difficult to reach at the best of times, in flood it can be impossible. I remember seeing pictures of a woman in the Indian floods who had literally given birth up a tree.  When the baby wants to come, it comes.

The thoughts on stagnant water and flood water led me on to reading about work on a new controversial dam. This would be the first large hydropower dam to be built in the Mekong River Basin in Cambodia.  Massive undertakings like this will have advantages and disadvantages and there is a lot of press out there on both sides.  Providing a form of power for the nation is of course of paramount importance in a world where energy is so scarce. But alas this means the permanent flooding of vast areas of the country, the loss of people’s homes, farmland and ancient landscapes.

There have been several villages  put under water in the UK, to create massive reservoirs for local water needs. Beneath the waters of Ladybower Reservoir in Derbyshire lies an area which was once the villages of Derwent and Ashopton.  In Wales Tryweryn was flooded to hold water for Liverpool. The future is never easy when people and the ownership of land are involved.

Midwives oversees

            I have been digesting the The State of the Worlds Midwifery Report 2014 and the International Global Midwifery Competencies.  It makes me think about how one side of the world is on a different rung of the ladder than the other.  It makes me proud of the care we have in the modern western world, however I am aware of the need not to share aspects of that care that in hindsight may have done more harm than good.  Why do most women in America give birth on their backs in lithotomy delivered by a doctor? Please let that not be imported into developing countries.  All the evidence supports midwives and their ability to care for the majority of women and save lives.

There will be a projected 0.6 million Pregnancies per annum by 2030 in Cambodia where the majority of the population (83%) still live in rural areas. No legislation exists for Midwifery as an autonomous profession. There is a recognised body to regulate the profession, but no licence is required to practice midwifery. But there is a live register of midwives.(p 72 SoWMy 2014). 

Building links with the Cambodian Midwifery Association is the goal for the Global Twinning Project I think it would be great to connect early in order that the month can be as fruitful as possible for all sides.  Networking is the key and I understand Cambodian Midwives are on Twitter. Yey.

Chumree up sooh  –  Hello

Chumree vleer – Goodbye.

Interestingly can’t find the word for “push”  in the phrase book.



Phnom Penh Post Looking beyond the reservoir. Aug 2014  Dam

Flood warnings



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