Uon Pakthom, a celebrity environmental activist better known as Sai, will once again organise a “Run for Charity with Sai” event with participants running from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap over nine days in October to raise funds for the Angkor Hospital for Children, which faced financial challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sai – a Cambodian performer and social media influencer who first made headlines when he launched the “Run for Charity with Sai” campaign in October 2020 to garner donations for the same hospital by running on roads throughout the country – told The Post that while the Kingdom is recovering fast from Covid-19, many large businesses including hotels in Siem Reap that used to donate to the hospital cannot afford to do so now as they have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
He added that donations to the hospital have been insufficient. And after discussions with the hospital, he decided to organise the run again.
The event will see participants run a distance of about 303km over a period of nine days. He noted that the run will be similar to previous ones, covering about 40km per day, divided into two shifts. He will run around 20km each morning and do the same in the evening, staying along the way at people’s houses or pagodas.
He said no specific date has been set yet as his team is still applying for permits and deciding on the days which will attract the most participants.
He expects that this event will have about half of the participants that the last one had, as there was more time to call on people to join in the last time.
“First, I want to send a message to the public that Angkor Hospital for Children is still in need of funds for its operations, and also call attention to the fact that the hospital has a new system that allows for regular donations of $1 or $2 monthly, or $10 to $20 annually. We want to encourage the public to contribute regular donations to support the hospital’s sustainability in the future,” he said.
He added that through this activity, the team also called on the public to take part in sports to improve their health – and to promote the upcoming 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).
“I want people to play sport in line with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s calls of ‘one person, one sport’, and we will spread the word along the way about the games,” he said.
Sinketh Arun, the hospital’s director of fundraising, fully supports Sai’s event, as the funds he raises will make a significant contribution to the care of the children admitted to the hospital.
She also called on local and foreign donors, both individuals and institutions, to join the campaign in large numbers.
“Funds raised from both local and international fundraisers are used to operate many areas of healthcare, including general care, pediatric specialty care, community health programmes and the training of medical and non-medical staff,” she said.
She said that in 2021, the hospital received more than $5 million from international donors, local fundraisers, special events and the government.
She added that the hospital provides high-quality treatment to children free of charge. In 2021, about 60,000 patients came for checkups, treatment and consultations, with some hospitalised for critical illnesses including cancer.
Back in 2020 and early 2021, Sai and participants spent 99 days running around the country, passing through 22 provinces and covering a distance of approximately 2,300km. He aimed to raise funds and inspire young people to get involved in humanitarian activities.
According to Sai, the event raised nearly $500,000 from the public for the hospital.