LONDON - The Cambodia Trust, a British charity, will inaugurate its new National
School of Prosthetics (NSP) at the Calmette Hospital on May 16. The school
opened its doors in January.
The ceremony to celebrate its completion
will be attended by Co-Prime Ministers Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen, together
with Foreign Minister Prince Norodom Sirivudh.
The NSP aims to train 60
Cambodian students by the year 2,000, in cooperation with the American Friends
Service Committee. Courses last four years.
Chairman of the Trust,
Oxford historian Dr Peter Carey, says the school will be given to the
government, to be part of a national health service.
"They will be in a
position to take over the running of a fully Cambodianized National
Rehabilitation Service," he explains.
With 30-40,000 amputees in the
country, the NSP expects to fit 200 limbs a month, free of charge. Prostheses
need to be replaced every three years.
The Cambodia Trust was formed in
1989 in Oxford, with 11 patrons and seven trustees, including film-makers David
Puttnam and Roland Joffe, director of The Killing Fields. Joffe donated the
proceeds of the London premiere of his 1992 film, City of Joy.
invitations at short notice, the Trust's Cambodian vice-chairman, Kantha Ravyn
Karet-Coxen, married to an English commodities broker, contacted all her
influential friends. "I worked day and night," she recalled.
a former fashion designer and daughter of Kun Michai, one of King Sihanouk's
ministers during the 1960s, fled Cambodia in 1969. She recently gave up her
fashion business to devote herself entirely to the Trust and to Cambodia. She
compares her labors to motherhood. "To have a beautiful baby, sometimes you go
through a difficult childbirth," she said.
The Trust has raised more than
$1,000,000 from Japan, and over $750,000 pounds from the ODA and EC, to create
two prosthesis centers, in Phnom Penh and Kompong Som, which opened in February
1992 and April 1993 respectively.
For the NSP, the Trust had what Dr
Carey describes as "an enormous stroke of good fortune. "Britain's National
Health Service phased out its former artificial limbs, to be replaced by new
ones, and the Trust acquired all their stock, components, moulds, machinery and
blueprints of the prosthetic companies, at 'scrap price' of about $75,000
Dr Carey, a fellow in modern history at Trinity College, has
raised money through articles in national newspapers, and from sponsored walks.
He trekked 569 km from Oxford to Newcastle in August 1992, raising $10,000.
"I walked with my 12-year-old son," he said. "It took us 28
At the end of May, he will walk from Glasgow to Fort William in
Scotland with a British amputee from Oxford and two friends. His devotion to
Cambodia stems from his initial visit five years ago. Born in Burma, he became a
specialist in Southeast Asia and was a member of the Oxfam Asia Committee. "I
visit Cambodia every year," he added.
Karet-Coxen registered another
Cambodian foundation in London in April to raise money for education in remote
villages. "King Sihanouk was very supportive when I visited him in Peking last
October," she said.