helping cambodian kids see

cambodia eye testIntrepid Travel has been collecting spectacles for people in Indochina for the last two years and the results are very encouraging. Thanks to the donations from many Intrepid travellers and Intrepid Express readers we have been able to assist the valuable work of the Children’s Surgical Centre and Emma Levy from CSC in Phnom Penh is very happy to report on their school visits…

“Every Friday during the school term, since 2007, Mr Lam Sambo and his team have visited a primary school in the greater Phnom Penh area and tested the eyesight of students and teachers. He has distributed hundreds of pairs of glasses, and referred numerous patients to Children’s Surgical Centre (CSC) if they have more serious conditions such as cataracts or ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid).

One Friday in November I accompanied Sambo, who is an Ophthalmic Nurse and Refractionist and two other CSC staff members, Chanthy and Ratha, on this mission. When we arrived at Paung Tek primary school class was in session, but a few minutes later the bell rang and morning break began. Curious students peered through doors and windows trying to get a glimpse of the eye chart and other equipment being set up.

After meeting with the director of the school, Ratha began testing the eyesight of children who had complained of poor vision. These students then lined up to see Sambo, who conducts a more comprehensive test of the lower and upper lids, eyeball, area around the eye and the refraction of the eyeball.

Out of the 14 children examined, 6 needed spectacles and one was given eye drops for conjunctivitis. Chanthy recorded each student’s details and gave them a form with an appointment time and a map to our clinic, where the lenses are made. One little girl also had potential ptosis and was given instructions to come to CSC for a free consultation.

Next it was the teachers’ turn, and they eagerly awaited their tests. Many had suffered eye problems for several years but had not seen a doctor. Sambo diagnosed two older teachers as having cataracts, whilst six others required glasses. Cataract surgery, which prevents blindness, costs up to $500 at a private clinic. However, the teachers will receive the surgery at CSC free of charge.

Thank you to Intrepid and travellers for making this program such a success. Without your donations of spectacle frames, we would not be able to provide this service to the children, free of charge.”

One of the many travellers who has made a real difference is Craig Warner. At the time of writing, Craig was exploring Vietnam on our Cycle Vietnam trip. Prior to leaving home, Craig found out about the Intrepid Foundation’s request for glasses and hearing aids, so he decided to start collecting. He didn’t get a great response at work, so he approached management and they very kindly agreed to offer a prize that could be won by anyone who made a donation. Soon the glasses came flooding in and he ended up donating two big bags of spectacle frames and a couple of hearing aids to this great cause. Our sincere thanks to Craig for his efforts and creative methods!

We are collecting children’s spectacles and hearing aids for any age via our stores Australia-wide and in Auckland. If you can help, please see The Intrepid Foundation for further details.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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Hi Julie and Rosie,
thanks for your comments and interest in helping those in need. At this stage we are only collecting via our offices in Australia and New Zealand – and of course our travellers are taking spectacles with them to Cambodia. But if you wanted to mail any children’s glasses or hearing aids (these can be any size) to Intrepid Travel, PO Box 2781, Fitzroy DC VIC 3065, Australia, we will ensure they reach CSC.
In regards to donating clothing – anyone travelling to Asia with Intrepid can take unwanted clothes with them and we can make sure they are distributed via our local Intrepid Foundation partners. We are also in the process of setting up this arrangement for travellers in other regions, but unfortunately we’re unable to assist at the moment with clothing pick ups from your home country.
Thanks and best wishes,
Sue, Intrepid Express editor'

I have several pairs of both varifocals and single vision glasses that are looking for a new home….where shall I send them to? Does anyone take clothes? I have 2 large bin bags of women’s clothes in very good condition. I tried ClothesAid, but they never turned up, despite several phone calls and emails….When I was last in Africa I took lots of spare Tshirts, skirts etc. and pencils and pens that I donated at small villages/schools we passed…but I don’t have any trips planned for a while.'

Does Intrepid have a similar scheme in the UK? – would love to help with this initiative.

Hi Robyn,
thanks so much for your comment and and great fundraising. Isn’t it fantastic when we can do something worthwhile with things we have lying around in our drawers. Great stuff,
Sue, Intrepid Express editor'

Hi all

I would strongly encourage more people to put out the call for glasses and hearing aids. Last Christmas when I was heading to Cambodia, I put a msg on our electronic bulletin board at work……I was sent 80 pairs of glasses. Too many for my small suitcase, so I took 30 with me and gave the rest to Intrepid Brisbane for forwarding on. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiam of my co-workers, and it felt so great to be able to assist a worthwhile program.

Thanks to Intrepid for their great work in these areas, and for communicating these programs to us so that we can join in and make it a better world….


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