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Co-Premiers to open school of prosethetics

Co-Premiers to open school of prosethetics

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.

Issuing

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.

Karet-Coxen,

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

pounds.

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

days."

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.

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