Sorry I was away…

… and this is what I’ve been doing while I was gone from blogging.

Operation Smile Cambodia. Giving new smiles. Changing lives of Cambodian children. My apologies to the owner of this photo - I just nicked this from the slide presentation shown during the closing dinner. If you know him, or, if it's YOU, let me know so I can give a proper attribution.
Operation Smile Cambodia. Giving new smiles. Changing lives of Cambodian children. My apologies to the owner of this photo – I just nicked this from the slide presentation shown during the closing dinner. If you know him, or, if it’s YOU, let me know so I can give a proper attribution.

Preparing for Operation Smile Cambodia’s international mission and the official opening of the Smile Center. It’s no easy work, I tell you that. However, seeing 109 kids receiving free reconstructive surgery and spending my birthday with them is just another reason to celebrate. I am very proud to be associated with OpSmile Cambodia’s work.  Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Signs, signs: Friendship Mission

Errrrmm… hello, blog!

It’s been awhile, isn’t it? More than a month.

Aside from a personal issue, I also concentrated on work, preparing for the friendship mission between Cambodia and Singapore.

Signs Operation Smile Cambodia-Singapore Friendship Mission

So no blogs, no tweets, and no Facebook. I swear that after the personal issue has been resolved and that the last mission volunteer has left the country, I think that I shall never go back to my online activities again. But I imagine how much heartbreak it will cause to all my two avid readers, so …

I am back yet again.
Before I see any of you rolling your eyes… I know, I know… I’ve been saying this over and over but, hey, at least I’m not giving up entirely.


Signs, signs: … we are forever grateful

Yesterday, we were busy preparing the donation boxes to be sent to selected establishments around the city. These establishments were kind enough to let us place our boxes there, so thank you for your help. I chose photos of young patients from our most recent mission. Browsing through photo albums, I could not help but be amazed at the transformation that transpired. Looking at the before and after photos of the patients, I cannot imagine that the surgery is done in less than an hour. Et voila –  “Change Forever just happened.

Dear friends, whenever you this box in the grocery stores or restaurants, stop and have a look. And do what your heart tells you to do. You have the power to change a Cambodian child’s forever.

operation smile donation box
“We don’t know your names but we are forever grateful…” (Source: OSI)

Any donation you give goes directly to support our medical missions in Cambodia, extending our services to the remote corners of the country. Our most recent mission was in Poipet where 60 patients received life-changing surgery (meet one of our young patients).

In December, a team of local and international volunteers will be heading to Ratanakiri province, located northeast of Cambodia, for another week of medical mission. With your donation, you are helping us reach potential patients – young and old alike – who were born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.


Signs, signs: Change forever

Hi friends, I’m back again.

If you’re one of the many who’s been asking for an update, I’m afraid you’ll be a little disappointed. I just got back from a surgical mission in Poipet – and a successful one at that – but I am not resting yet. When I started with Operation Smile as a non-medical staff, I somehow know what’s in store for me but did not know what to expect during the actual medical mission as the in-country mission coordinator. It’s a long and interesting story but I have tons of paper works to do and to submit to my bosses first so I will reserve a post about it in the coming days. Be sure to come back.

I shall, however, share a favourite photo that was taken during our mission.

The sign on the shirt says it all!
The sign on the shirt says it all!

In the photo is Operation Smile volunteer Marco Nebria, a Filipino nurse based in the UK, comforting a young patient. Marco has been awarded by OS as one of the best volunteer nurses –  so are our Pediatric Intensivist Anke Top and Clinical Coordinator Dusty Clegg for this mission. Hence, our patients were assured of the best possible surgery and post-operative care with Marco, Anke, and Dusty and the rest of the medical volunteers around.

The little boy is just over a year old. His name escapes me now but his smile left an impression on me. In fact, just several hours after his surgery he was already up and about,  trying to smile for everyone to see. You should’ve seen how his smile disarmed everyone around him. Everyone, I think, fell for this little fella’! In the corner of the ward, his mum (or grandmother, I couldn’t tell) was smiling broadly, beaming with genuine happiness. Like any other common folks in the poor and remote areas in Cambodia, she could not afford this life-saving surgery.

I’ve worked in Cambodia for more than a decade now but my work with Operation Smile has left me with a profound effect, seeing lots of children (and adults, too) born with cleft and other deformities receiving much-needed surgery at no cost, giving them a new hope, a new chance at life.



Sreisaat, you are hired!

Dear blog,

Yes. I heard the magic words through a phone call from the director of an international NGO in Phnom Penh, just a few days before Jonathan Yabut did and became the first winner of The Apprentice Asia. Go, go Pinoy!

The last few days have been really busy and I have several blog posts that I want to get done (a few were on auto-post mode) but I haven’t had the time.

It’s not because I was procrastinating again. No, not that. I wonder how many of my friends thought of that — raise your hands!  Feeling sheepish now, tee-hee-hee. I know you know me for being a procrastinator but I’m happy to say “you’re all wrong!” this time! Lol.

So, after 100 years, I’m back to the working world. The past week – my first week at work – was an eye-opener. I was obviously trying to make a good impression while feeling jittery at the same time.  I thought that the hard part was over after I’ve bagged the job that I’ve been waiting for. I was wrong.  I was excited – yes – but I was a bundle of nerves during the first day, especially. I could only surmise the nervousness came from the long years of idleness that washed away my confidence and left me in self-doubt about my capabilities. I was afraid that I would be self-conscious and alone (having no friends yet), and incapable and confused (don’t know the system yet).

The first day went by and, as the week went on, I found myself getting to the ropes eventually. It also helped that the other staff were helpful and patient with me. My boss, a plastic surgeon, is a nice, cheery fellow who doesn’t breathe on my neck while the “new girl” was working. He was busy with his patients, anyway. Soon after, I was on my own proud at myself for catching up quickly.

I’m part of the worldwide workforce again. It feels good.

And so begins another chapter…

Here’s a slide that should give you a glimpse of my first week at work.

tuktuk ride in Phnom Penh
My daily ride to work.
tuktuk ride in Phnom Penh
Moderate morning traffic.
Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital grounds
That day I went to work very early...
This is what I see from my work desk.
Bento lunch box
Working lunch: breaded pork, steamed carrots and broccoli, and rice. My attempt at bento-lunch making.
Korean spicy pork
Working lunch: Korean spicy pork, tomatoes, and rice. My attempt at bento-lunch making.
election mob CNRP
That day I got trapped on the road for more than two hours on the last day of the election campaign period.

Signs, signs: Operation Smile Cambodia

I haven’t been posting a lot lately. This is one of the reasons why:

signs operation smile cambodia
This is what I see from my work desk.

I haven’t been here long enough but reading the past reports have been an eye-opener for me.
Children who are born with a cleft are often unable to eat, speak, socialise and even smile. Others are ridiculed, isolated, and rejected.

Did you know that in as little as 45minutes, and for approximately US$250, one cleft lip surgery can change a child’s life forever?

Operation Smile Cambodia started its activities in 2002 and has, since then, provided thousands of free reconstructive surgeries for children born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities.

This is going to make me busy from now on. We have a scheduled medical mission in September in Poipet, Banteay Meanchey province. If you know anyone who has chaeyp moat (cleft lip) or chaeyp kraom moat (cleft palate), from Banteay Meanchey or neighbouring provinces (Battambang, Siem Reap), kindly get in touch with us (please click the highlighted text above).  Or leave a comment or message in the comment section of this post. I’m more than happy to assist you with your inquiries.