I was scrolling down my Facebook page when these two words caught my attention: ARRIVEDERCI BATTAMBANG. What, I wondered, was the meaning of that? I understood the phrase to mean goodbye, but I didn’t actually expect to read about the demise of Emergency in Cambodia. After all, the organization was indispensable, for alleviating the pain of thousands, saving the lives of hundreds, opening their doors to the multitudes of Cambodians who would otherwise have nowhere to turn.
Indeed, after calling upon Google Translate, I learned that as of March 1st (yesterday), the era of Emergency trauma care in Battambang, critical lifeline to so many, was coming to an end.
I am saddened at this turn of events because the handover to Cambodian authorities will most likely lead to the eventual closure of this critical care facility or, at least, a significantly lesser quality of medical treatment and assistance. I cannot help but mourn the lives that may not be saved, the people who may be turned away, the children who may not have the same chances at a future without amputation, without pain. My only wish is that, just perhaps, the people will pressure the authorities to maintain the same level of health and trauma services as Emergency staff did.
Still, I am indebted to the efforts that were made Emergency-Battambang at saving my life. I am grateful that their gates were open to me, that their logo – previously unknown to me – graced the flags billowing at the entrance.
May their efforts elsewhere in the world continue to pave the way for health, survival of the poorest and vulnerable, for those caught up in conflict and corruption, for those too frail, weak and illiterate to care for themselves.
Gino, Emergency, ciao & mille grazie.