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A group of 14 volunteers mostly from Vermont and New Hampshire traveled to Cambodia on January 2-17 to provide primary medical and dental care to poor people of rural Takeo Province. The group included high school students, young and middle aged adults as well as retired persons all motivated to help people in a distant land. The group included Maury Smith, M.D. , James Wright, DDS, Dan Caloras, M.D. ,Nella Wennberg, PA,  Greg Jasper, NP, Sara Vrendenberg,  MA,  Meryl Lindsay, MD,  Ann Larkin, Caren Helm, Sam Kong, Warren O’dette, Max Georgievsky, YuyanWei, and Sierra Weinberg-Smith. 

We all felt a strong desire to show the people we care . Several of us are Rotary members and believe in the motto “ Service Above Self” . In addition, our goal is to inspire young volunteers from our country and Cambodia to pursue careers in healthcare. Several of the group are in various stages of their education in medical careers. 

We provided care to over 1200 persons. Many people were treated for high blood pressure, diabetes, fungal and bacterial skin infections, and osteoarthritis. Many people also suffered from gastrointestinal disorders due to the poor water supply.  Many teeth in disrepair were extracted and we applied dental fluoride to hundreds of children. 

This year we worked with the Khmer Sight Foundation. They are an organization that identifies poor people in need of cataract surgery. Over 60 people were identified that will receive surgery to restore vision. 

We created a fund to assist persons we identify as needing specialty care in the capital city of Phnom Penh. For example, people with cancer, cleft lip, non-healing skin ulcers and other deformities not treatable in the clinic will be offered care free of charge in the capital. 

We distributed 1000 pairs of flip flops, 2000 bars of soap, 1000 pair of reading glasses, and over 60 canes. There is nothing better than a smile from a person seeing close up with glasses or walking better with a cane. 

We made many friends and contacts during the trip, and rekindled old friendships with local and provincial leaders. Our success is due to all the hard work of our group and the tremendous support from Cambodian and American people. 

I would like to give special thanks to the Charlestown Rotary Club, Springfield Lions Club, Springfield Rotary Club, Springfield Hospital, Christopher Merritt and the Phnom Penh Metro Rotary Club,  Do Huynh Phuong Lan, and the countless people /groups that supported this project including many churches, Rotary Clubs and individuals throughout New England.

For further information or interest in supporting this project please contact Dan Caloras at 603-826-5711.