The third tour of the Russian Dental Volunteer Organization “Cambodia 2014”
In January another tour of Russian dentist volunteers took place in Cambodia. This time DRC company – a traditional sponsor of the Russian Dental Volunteer Organization – provided Russian volunteers with many R.O.C.S. toothpastes and toothbrushes for Cambodians. Doctor Andrei Akulovich, the organiser of the volunteer dentist movement, talks about the trip.
For the first time our volunteer tour has repeated, which greatly simplified the preparation. The local tour operator Great Angkor Tours, proven guide Narann, and the many hotels, schools, clinics that we have visited before, where we were remembered and where we knew many people… Compared to last year we have changed only the country of entry and exit – last year it was Vietnam, this year it was Thailand. Our programme in Cambodia also became more intense.
As usual, there were several dozens of applications, but when it came to purchasing tickets, most of the applicants stopped responding: this is really a perfectly typical occurrence. As a result a group of 9 doctors representing different cities of our country was formed: Anastasia Matantseva (orthodontist, “Aprel” clinic) and Julia Ignatjeva (pediatric dentist, “Aprel” clinic) from Kaliningrad, Jelena Lopatkina (dentist, orthodontist, “DEF” clinic) from Novorossiysk, Tamila Ragimova (general practice dentist, “Dental Cosmetic” clinic / Novosibirsk State Medical University) and Alexei Nikonov (general practice dentist, “RealDent” clinic) from Novosibirsk, Ramilya Hotsanovich from Naberezhnye Chelny (dental therapist, SP No.3), Tagir Magomedov from Saratov (orthodontist, Saratov State Medical University) who participated for the second time, the tour moderator Roman Maslov (dentist, surgeon, “PRESIdent” clinic, Moscow), and yours truly, the inspiration of the movement Andrei Akulovich (Pavlov First Saint Petersburg Stateedical University).
After an easy flight from winter into summer our trip began in Bangkok with a visit to the ancient Thai capital – Ayutthaya. The second day included visiting the Royal Palace, the magnificent temples, viewing platforms on skyscrapers and other local attractions. After that we crossed from Thailand into Cambodia at the Pot Pei border checkpoint (visas were made at the checkpoint) and moved on to Battambang.
Day 3: Hygiene lessons and the handing out of oral hygiene products in the Otakhorm II elementary school in the city of Battambang. Trip to Siem Reap, where we stayed in our favourite Somadevi Angkor hotel.
Day 4: Siem Reap. The tourist centre of the country. Hygiene lessons and the handing out of oral hygiene products in the Buddhist monastery Wat Bo Pagoda; selection of monks for prophylactic hygiene. The most pleasant conversations with monks, Buddhist songs in our honour. After that we visited very interesting places in the Kulen Mountain natural reserve – a beautiful temple carved into a mountain and a waterfall, which occupied two hours of our time.
Day 5: Working with monks in the friendly Tan Meng Heang clinic in Siem Reap (it was the second year of our co-operation). Special thanks to the clinic’s administrator, colleague and friend – doctor Tan Meng Heng for providing the premises and the equipment. Many thanks to his great staff! After that we spent several hours in the legendary temple complex of Angkor Wat – the real pearl of Cambodia, which attracts tourists from all around the world. Then we came to Bayon Temple and visited an exotic village on the water in Kampong Thom province, on the largest lake not only in Cambodia, but in Southeast Asia in general – Tonle Sap Lake. It was amazing to see how people live in the floating village of Kampong Phluk.
Day 6: We moved from Kampong Thom to the capital of Phnom Penh. We were able to visit the main cultural sites of Phnom Penh – the Silver Pagoda, the Royal Palace and various temples. Hygiene lessons in the local Kolab elementary school for 300 children. Fantastic reception with national dances performed by students. For the first time in our three tours even the school principal was unable to control the situation during distribution of toothpaste and toothbrushes: the kids were very quick to take all the gifts without queuing or following any order whatsoever. Everything went quite smoothly however. We had dinner and a boat trip down the Mekong river.
Day 7: Work in Pachem Dental Clinic – the spacious 2-storey clinic with 8 rooms in the centre of Phnom Penh. We occupied 3 rooms to perform professional hygiene for 15 children selected in the school where a day before we had a hygiene lesson and distributed toothpastes and toothbrushes.
Dentists in Cambodia study for 8 years. A year of study in a private college costs about 1,500 US dollars. The country has 4 dentistry schools, and the demand for dentists is generally satisfied.
After that we were expected in the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Cambodia where we were met by the Plenipotentiary Charge d'Affaires of the Russian Federation in the Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Andrei Vladimirov and the Secretary of the Embassy Galina Goryachkina. The consul thanked us for this noble initiative, for our contribution in strengthening the friendship between the peoples of Russia and Cambodia and expressed his hope for the continuation of co-operation in the field. As was the case during our last tour in Cambodia the Russian Embassy knew about us and wholeheartedly approved our work. We are, of course, very honoured by this.
Days 8-10: A long-awaited rest: we travelled to Bonkor mountain with its astonishing views and were able to relax and enjoy great seafood at the beach resort of Sihanoukwille: snorkeling, scooters and every other thing that the beach vacation entails!
I would like to thank the companies that supported us on this tour: first of all, our regular main partner – DRC and R.O.C.S. brand represented by Svetlana Matelo; “N.Sella” company, “Nobel” company and many others. Special thanks to “Great Angkor Tours” company and our guide Narann, tour moderator of the Russian Dental Volunteer Organization Roman Maslov, and all the guys who demonstrated discipline and friendship in this challenging trip and worked as a true team of dentist volunteers!