So part of the reason we are doing this boxing is to support the Children’s Surgical Centre http://csc.org/ in Cambodia. This is the charity which the White Collar Boxing (WCB), run by Vanda, is affiliated with. Vanda raises money at the 4 WCB events a year (2 in Singapore & 2 in HK) by having both a silent and live auction and they raise around US$200,000 every year. The company I work for, Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), www.slh.com is donating a 7 night stay at any SLH hotel worldwide and hope this excellent prize will raise thousands of dollars for CSC.
The money raised from this prize and from all of the other auction prizes will go directly to the Children’s Surgical Centre. On average every US$200 raised will pay for 1 life changing surgery. The kind of problems that people come to CSC with and need surgery for are horrendous, seriously debilitating such as club feet, cleft palate, cleft lip, acid burns, road accident injuries, babies with fluid on the brain to name but a few. An operation to help or even cure any one of these problems is life changing but only costs US$200 which would be considered nothing for you or I but the people who benefit from these surgeries would otherwise not be able to afford these operations. There is no NHS in Cambodia and these people are very poor and so going private is not an option. The charity was in fact originally setup to help children but they will also operate on adults as otherwise the adults will rely on children to help them, that is the reality of it in Cambodia as there is no home help or disabled facilities.
I have always been slightly intrigued as to when you donate to charity where the money goes. I have always been slightly put off from giving by the statistics you hear about only a small percentage of what you give ever finds its way to the people who need it. Therefore I decided to go to Phnom Penh in Cambodia and visit CSC for the day with some of the other boxers and see for myself how the money is spent and how the operation is run.
First of all I met Dr. Jim, by all accounts the founder and godfather of CSC. He has been doing this for 20 years and has dedicated much of his life to helping Cambodians, not just in Phnom Penh but all over the country. I very much doubt that Dr. Jim will be ever to give this up as it really is his baby and he has built it from scratch and overcome many challenges along the way. He estimates that CSC now carry out around 5000 operations a year and if you think that he has been doing this for 20 years then he has made a huge difference to tens of thousands of people’s lives. But Dr. Jim would be the last person to tell you it in those terms.
After this we did morning rounds with little Jim. He is a surgeon from the UK who has previously worked in Africa and is now dedicating his time and skills to help those less fortunate.The ward was very busy with people who were recovering from the previous day’s operations as well as people who had just been submitted. It was very busy in the small ward of approximately 25 beds. The doctors were going around and assessing the success of the previous days operations and saying how long until the patient could go home or were diagnosing new cases and deciding what treatment was needed.
I saw a baby who had an operation the previous day to remove fluid from the brain who was recovering well and there was also a 15 year old girl who had club feet but had never had them treated until now. It is such a shame as if she had been treated earlier in life she would not have the problems now.
After this we went into surgery and this was not for the faint hearted. The theatre had three operating tables with three operating teams and there were operations going on simultaneously. They were not hanging around either. While I was in there I witnessed six operations which was unbelievable. With so many people who need help there is a real sense of urgency and Dr. Jim does not mess around, he is old school and he gets the job done. With such a tight budget decisions need to be made immediately as the surgeons simply cannot afford to procrastinate.
After visiting the CSC we went to the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity. In Cambodia acid burns are a big problem. Many acid burns are inflicted on purpose in crimes of hate. Acid is very readily available in Cambodia as batteries for cars and bikes come ‘dry’ i.e. without acid. It is therefore readily available at news agents and cheap. Up until recently the law did not consider the act of burning someone with acid to be a serious crime and was only punishable with a few hundred dollars fine. This has now changed, partly thanks to lobbying by the Acid Burn Survivors Centre. I am glad that this is the case as it destroys people’s lives and the damage inflicted on people is irreversible, both physically and psychologically. Dr. Jim in fact setup the charity as some of the young girls who had been burnt were treated at CSC but then committed suicide due to the depression caused by the disfigurement. He wanted to give the victims the support they needed after the immediate surgery. Some of this support has been legal by trying to bring the perpetrators to justice and some has been psychological by trying to provide counseling. They also help in the long term by providing physiotherapy and making compression garments to soften the keloid scarring.
After my visit I can really see that all of the money raised gets through to the people who really need it and nothing is wasted. Dr. Jim is an inspiration and has an amazing passion. He is ambitious and thinks long term as well, always trying to make CSC bigger and sustainable and so it can help more and more people in the future. They are building a new three story wing which should be ready soon which will hugely increase the capacity.
I am glad that the money which Small Luxury Hotels of the World raises will go to such a good cause and urge anyone on the night to bid generously as it is also a fantastic prize! If you cannot be there on the night but would like to donate to this excellently run charity then please visit and donate http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/IFS_WhiteCollarBoxingSGP/17march2012