By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News
In Cambodia’s post-conflict countryside, children and families are forced to walk long distances through mine fields to collect water from an unclean source. Without the removal of explosives littering the land, the area isn’t safe and it also makes development difficult.
To help, a group of Canadian paramedics are headed over to the war-torn country to provide medical training and treatment to Cambodian personnel who are on the ground every day, removing land mines from the earth.
“It’s just a way to use your skills overseas, basically, instead of using them locally,” said Julie Colgan, team leader for the 15-person team that will be volunteering in the Asian country from March 22 until April 2.
This won’t be the first time Colgan, a London-based paramedic, has shared her expertise and services overseas. Through GlobalMedic, a charitable organization that provides emergency relief to those affected by natural disasters and other emergencies, Colgan has trained medics who work on land mine clearance sites around the world. She has gone to Vietnam, Cambodia and Pakistan to deliver supplies and services.
“You tend to see a little bit like different type of patients,” she said. “We usually go to third world countries (and) they don’t have the health care system we have over here.”
Colgan added providing service in those countries is a humbling, but worthwhile, experience.
Not only are participants expected to pay for their flight and accommodation, but each has to raise $3,000 for water purification units and medical and first aid supplies. The group also collects supplies like hospital beds, wheelchairs, penicillin and lice shampoo, to name a few.
All these items will then be packed into a sea freight container, which will be shipped in January, so it’ll arrive in Cambodia around the same time as the volunteers in late March.
Colgan isn’t the only London-based paramedic participating in this trek. Neil Jones said he signed up because he was looking to connect with patients who really need help.
“We get a lot of people here that perhaps by most people’s standards don’t really need an ambulance, but call for an ambulance as one of the best ways to get to the hospital,” he said, noting the stark contrast of his trip to a flood zone on the Asian continent last year.
“You respond to a disaster in Pakistan and the people there have absolutely nothing to begin with and they’re so grateful for what they have.
“You go in, help those people and you’re giving them the very simplest, basic things and, again, they’re just so grateful to you.”
To donate supplies or money, or for more information, contact Colgan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.