Rich Poverty

June 1, 2016

     Cambodia is a majestic country of humility and beauty overshadowed by a Western ideology of indigence. Since arriving in the country I have felt nothing but warmth and love from the local people in every city, town, and establishment we visit. They are ever grateful to have us visit and immerse ourselves in their fascinatingly rich culture. The deep roots of undulating despair and greatness in the country’s history has established an unwavering trunk of culture, strong flexible branches of hard working ideology and morals, a robust vegetation of growing pride and economy, and the most beautiful blooms of humility, kindness, and appreciation that to this day goes unparalleled. Being in this country in some ways makes me ashamed of my fellow Americans and how we have developed into a country of greedy, unappreciative, prideful, and untrustworthy people.

     We are continually taught day in and day out that we are the greatest country in the world because we are strong, rich, and free, but coming to Cambodia has shown me that these aren’t the qualities that make a country great. Identity, culture, humility, and true love for your neighbor and your country are just a few attributes I believe Cambodia excels in compared to the U.S. I would comment on the government structure as a negative quality, but most countries struggle with political leaders. From what I have heard the outlook of Cambodia and its leadership in a good one. I have noticed that almost every home, establishment, business, or person has a picture of their King and speaks well for the most part about their King. When I come home and see the way we treat and speak about our own political leader it hurts to see that we cannot stand strong together and rally as true patriots behind the elected President of the United States.

     My experiences continue to surprise me each day and the clinics we have been conducting each day have been a testament to the thoughts and feelings above. People come in droves all day to see use whether they are sick or not. They thank us with exceeding appreciation and joy even if we are unable to help them with their problems. They walk miles and miles to sometimes leave only with vitamins and a toothbrush. They wait hours to discover that the swelling in their neck is a goiter that we are unable to fix because we do not have the resources to do so. They wait weeks to see us because they know we are coming. The school teachers bring their children whose parents are too busy working in the fields to bring them. Neighbors bring each other both old and young to ensure that they can all receive the attention they so desire. Yet, no one patient out of over 600 has complained once. And all I can think of each day is how much we complain about having to wait 30 minutes at an urgent care that we have ready access to each day. We will have a fit because the doctor with years of training decides not to give us antibiotics for our viral cold so we fuss until he/she gives us something for the cold because we know better than the doctor. How ungrateful some of us have become in our “great and developed country”.

Shedrick Martin, Pharmacy Student

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