FRIENDS:The Formosa Budding Hope Association is helping poor Cambodians, many of whom have never seen a doctor, and raising Taiwan’s international profile
Mon, Mar 19, 2012
Staff Writer, with CNA
A Taiwanese humanitarian aid group said that while Taiwan may have few diplomatic allies, it is regarded by many Cambodian villagers as their best friend.
“Even if we’re suppressed in the international arena, it doesn’t mean we should not extend a friendly hand or share our expertise, especially in the field of medicine,” said Sally Yu (余慈薰), director of the Formosa Budding Hope Association’s Cambodian branch. “It’s what many people need and what Taiwan can provide.”
The non-governmental organization (NGO) she helped found offers medical and educational aid to thousands of people in Cambodia.
It was established in December 2010 by Yu and Hsu Yu-pi (許毓丕), a dentist who has been providing free dental services in Cambodia since 2006.
In a gesture of long-term commitment, Budding Hope opened a branch in Cambodia on March 9. It is one of the few Taiwanese NGOs to register in Cambodia, which does not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
Since the NGO’s establishment, it has carried out 10 medical missions in 25 remote villages in Siem Reap Province in northern Cambodia, offering free medical services to about 15,000 people.
“Many of the villagers we serve have never seen a doctor before,” Yu said.
The local health centers in such areas are often staffed only by nurses who help deliver babies and provide painkillers, she said.
“We [Taiwan] can do much more because we have a quality, high-tech medical industry,” Yu added.
In 2010, Budding Hope obtained help from the Taiwanese government to treat a two-year-old Cambodian girl who had a massively swollen right arm.
The girl had surgery in Taiwan to successfully reduce the swelling, which had made her right arm five times the size of her left.
On each Budding Hope medical mission to Cambodia, about 100 doctors and volunteers provide mainly dental services and sometimes treatment for skin, eye and stomach problems, Yu said. Aside from working with two Cambodian orphanages to provide the children there with food and school necessities, the association also gives financial assistance to about 200 Cambodian children and their families, offering food, clothes, shoes and school supplies.
However, the work of the association is not just about giving funds, but also finding ways to help people pull themselves out of poverty, she said.
To this end, the association is planning to launch a program in May that will teach Cambodian women how to grow mushrooms on wood chips in plastic bags, and how to market the crop.
Noting that in Cambodia, the wet and dry seasons are long, which makes it hard for people to grow crops, Yu said the wood chips and bags, imported from Taiwan, could help to overcome that problem.
“Taiwan has the technology, and we hope to use Taiwan’s experience to help Cambodian women in rural villages increase their household incomes by trying out different farming methods,” she said.
With such work, the association also hopes to lift Taiwan’s profile in the international community.
“We hope to show local and international organizations, such as the UN, that Taiwan is here as well,” Yu said.
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