Our annual medical mission to the Koh Rong Archipelago in the Thailand Gulf region was the fourth trip we have taken as a partner of the Song Saa Foundation. The goal of that organization is to initiate and promote projects that improve the wellbeing of the communities and natural environments in the islands, and we are pleased to be able to help them with their mission.
This year, we were not only able to provide medical care to more than 750 patients in five communities, but we were also able to provide the gift of clean water! Two years ago, we worked with the Song Saa Resort Boat of Hope to evaluate the water sources in the Koh Rong and we determined that their water sources were contaminated.
Through the IMR Partner Program, we were able to purchase water filters to help reduce the amounts of harmful bacteria and contaminants in the water, and we installed them in local schools. Now residents have access to 100% clean, drinkable water. We taught them how to maintain the filters, which should continue to provide them with clean water for about 10 years. We also offered workshops on water sanitation to help the residents understand the importance of drinking clean water.
In addition to seeing patients with joint pain and dehydration, we saw a few patients with more unusual symptoms. One had a worm-infested ankle cyst that we were able to perform surgery on, preventing what would have likely been a future amputation of the foot. Another patient had potentially life-threatening gum disease, which resulted in our dental team needing to extract 20 teeth – all in the same day.
During our trip, we also followed up with a pair of young siblings that have ichthyosis, a primarily genetic condition in which the skin is very dry and thick. We have seen these children each year that we have visited the Thailand Gulf region and their skin condition has remained the same. However, one of the children has developed a cataract that needs to be removed. We began the research process to find a doctor in one of the cities in Cambodia who can perform the surgery.
On our last day of clinic, our team split into two groups. One group saw all the staff members at the Song Saa Resort. The other went to the village of Sok San where we saw lots of children and had lots of fun teaching them how to brush their teeth and all about the importance of drinking clean water. We also had the opportunity to teach them about nail care and hand washing. They all left our care with new toothbrushes, toothpaste, nail clippers, and nail files.
We were pleased to be able to provide medical assistance in the Thailand Gulf region and are grateful for our partnership with the Song Saa Foundation. We look forward to our mission here next year!