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Cambodia Calling: A Memoir from the…

Cambodia Calling: A Memoir from the Frontlines of Humanitarian Aid

by Richard Heinzl

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Dedicated with reverence to the

people of Combodia


To Carrie Heilbron, and Ryan and Carson Heinzl
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Ahead is a border compound with a wooden tower and a long barbed-wire fence that tracks a river bank until it dives into the green tropical forests of Uganda where the war is on.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0470153253, Hardcover)

"What’s the matter? A mine? Some kid step on a mine? A blessure?"
"No. Not a mine."
We walk in and there’s a mother standing by her child. It’s a little girl. She’s a very beautiful girl with straight black hair, maybe six or eight, big eyes, a bit younger than Smiles and just as lovely. But she’s lying too still under a white sheet on the bamboo bed and her mother is talking in a monotone, staring off to the corner asking for help from Buddha. The little girl is staring at me, tracking every move I make. She’s so weak, all she can do is move her eyes.

Sok Samuth approaches the bed and takes down the sheets. It’s very sad what we see. The girl is inhumanly thin and her skin is peeling off. He pulls the sheet up over the girl’s body again and the mother keeps up her monotone plea for Buddha while the little girl follows me, eye to eye. She wants me to make her feel better.
I’m thinking, no, not this one. The whole thing was about this one. It was always about this one.
"What is it?" he asks me.
"I don’t know. Is there a fever?"
"No, pas de fièvre." She is cool to the tough and there isn’t any shivering, no chills. …All my ream could tell me was that she’d been sick for a few weeks and that her appetite was poor for a week and that she became worse …

I checked the two pediatric textbooks we had at the Blue House. Nothing. It could be kwashiorhor—protein malnutrition—all by itself, but we weren’t hearing about that out in the countryside. It was still lush and the harvests had been so good. Why would she be starving now? So maybe it is cancer. I think, What would Professor Jim Anderson do? How would my great mentor go after the diagnosis?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:01 -0400)

"It is while in Uganda as a young and idealistic medical student that Richard Heinzl hears his true calling: to set up a chapter of Doctors Without Borders in his native Canada." "As a prerequisite to fulfilling his Medecins Sans Frontieres dream, Heinzl is set to a war-ravaged town in Cambodia to work for a year in the field to earn his wings with the organization. Cambodia Calling is this young doctor's story of setback and accomplishment in the exotic splendor of a remote and dangerous part of the world." "Compelling and visceral, Cambodia Calling offers a rare insight into the work and lives of MSF in the field. The author brings to life the isolated and impoverished village of Sisophon, where he works with locals to save lives in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge civil war. Heinzl's experiences are peopled with a fascinating array of characters, many of them survivors of a brutal regime, who bring powerful insights to bear on war, madness and mortality. During his time in Cambodia, Heinzl bonds with the villagers, all the while facing obstacles of war and his own self-doubts, as well as learning to face the harsh reality of treating those who cannot be healed." "Heinzl's year in Cambodia is a vehicle for self-discovery too. The author begins to shed his idealism for a new and deeper understanding of himself and humanity in an uncertain time and place, where the powerful beauty of the tropics and the sometimes humorous and often poignant moments clash with the dehumanizing events engendered by war."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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