I was born in Siem Reap in a family of four siblings. My father used to be was a policeman, but later hehe also worked for a Japanese organization that was involved in bridge construction and restoration at the Angkor Wat temple complex. When I was a child, my family was also interviewed by a Japanese television station. These events led to a spark in interest in Japan.
Inspiration to become a doctor
When I was little, I was sickly and often suffered from typhoid fever and dengue fever. My parents were worried that I wouldn’t live long. Having experienced such in my childhood, I wanted to save children in the same situation and decided to become a doctor.
After graduating high school, I went to medical school in Phnom Penh. Studying was exciting and made me more interested in becoming a doctor. I also enjoyed living away from my hometown in Phnom Penh.
Encounter with Japan Heart
After graduating from university, I was a short-term volunteer for European and Singaporean medical NGOs. Perhaps due to my Christian values, I have always been interested in volunteer work. Although I considered working at a government hospital, I found Japan Heart on the internet and applied. I started working when the Japan Heart Children’s Medical Center opened in 2016. Starting work there was very exciting. At the time, it was myself, the hospital director Dr. Kojiro, Dr. Ishida and three two other Cambodian doctors. I had a lot of fun every day taking part in surgeries for hernias, thyroid and gynaecological diseases. It was fun to learn so many things and live in one house as a family. At first I was intimidated by Dr. Yoshioka, but now I am grateful for everything that he has taught me and I enjoy having surgery together.
Differences between Cambodia and Japan
What surprised me, was that in Cambodia, any wound is cleaned with povidone-iodine. However, I changed how I used it because my Japanese colleagues told me not to use so much. In terms of life, Japanese wake up early to do exercise and cleaning. Cleaning at Cambodian hospitals is normally done by custodial staff, but here everyone cooperates. It is common practice now, and I think it is good to take care of the place you normally use yourself.
Exchange with Japan
It is fun to work with Japanese people. I am happy to be involved with long-term and short-term volunteers. There are many things to discover and techniques to learn from them. I have been able to interact with many doctors from rookies to veterans. It is always enjoyable to study together or go out for a drink with them. I often witness Japanese doctors and nurse trainees studying in the dormitory until late, which is inspiring for me.
I remember being happy to get the opportunity to be involved in pediatric cancer surgeries. Dr. Kakazu, a pediatrician came all the way to see our pediatric cancer treatment and I was happy to join surgery at this hospital. It was a real dream come true.
I couldn’t do anything on my first pediatric cancer mission. It was a long surgery and I was nervous about participating, but now I can do a little more. Even when treating the same disease, it is good to see different techniques from each team. I have seen many surgeries at government hospitals, but I had never seen pediatric cancer surgery. There are few places in Cambodia that can do such surgeries, so I am grateful to get the opportunity. The expert surgeons from Japan are very polite and have kindly taught me much and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
On holidays, I can dine and relax with family, friends or my girlfriend. I often spend time in Phnom Penh which is an exciting city. I sometimes leave the city and enjoy nature. Cambodia has an abundance of nature and the locals enjoy spending their holidays in it.
I also love playing sports and I often play with friends after work. No matter how tired you are from work, it is an exceptional feeling to shake off the day with some sports. These days, volleyball is popular. You can enjoy sports with Japanese volunteers and it is a good chance to mingle. Of course, I also study when there are new cases.
I am happy that the hospital has grown. Many donations have made it possible for pediatric cancer surgeries. I am grateful for the guidance given by Dr. Yoshioka, Dr. Kojiro and Dr. Kakazu and now I am in a position to teach young doctors myself. They often feel down after a surgery and sometimes wonder why or what they missed. I am happy to share this experience and what I have learned with young people. I feel that I am growing. I don’t have many surgeries because of the coronavirus pandemic, so I think that it is my turn because doctors can’t come from Japan. I want to do my best for the people of Cambodia, and especially the poor. My dream is to be able to operate as a surgeon for various cases, including childhood cancer.
I love this hospital. We have received many donations so far. Necessary items are more readily available and the range of treatment is expanding. Thank you to our supporters. Also, I am glad for the cooperation of both long and short-term volunteers. It started out small, but the hospital has grown because of the cooperation of everyone. It is difficult because of the coronavirus right now, but I hope that the specialized team and volunteers will come back soon. Let’s work together again!