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Cavalry arrives for ill villagers


Oek Mean, of Kampot town, has not been able to see clearly since 2010.

That’s when the 77-year-old developed a cataract, made worse by multiple eye infections over the past two years.

She describes pain, itchiness and redness in the eye that, up until last weekend, she assumed would simply go uncured.

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But then a few weeks ago, one of her grandchildren came home from school with an announcement of an upcoming free medical clinic for the district.

The humanitarian component of a bilateral military exchange between the United States and Cambodia, last weekend’s free clinic was held at Kampong Ses school in Kampot town and treated roughly 2,000 patients over a three-day span.

“Everything is fine now, I can see clearly,” Oek Mean said on Saturday.

The clinic was part of the third annual Angkor Sentinel military exercise between the two countries.

86 soldiers from the 116th Cavalry in Idaho’s National Reserve arrived in Cambodia last Tuesday for a series of command post exercises – such as providing medical training to the Kampot Royal Gendarmerie, or teaching Cambodian soldiers how to dismantle a roadside bomb – and humanitarian work, like Saturday’s clinic at Kampong Ses school.

Major Kevin Peck, operations officer for the 116th Cavalry, said his group felt “privileged” to help the local villagers through the free clinic. Many soldiers commented that this Cambodia mission was a welcome relief from two previous tours of duty in Iraq.

Cambodian Commander Ye Dith said the clinic was valuable because many villagers did not have access to quality health care.

“This is a good activity for rural villagers because many of them have poor health and they don’t go to the hospital, because they live so far away, so today is a time to help them without them having to pay,” he said.

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