Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Clinic

Hello All,

New Construction of Lake Clinic
This week the floating health clinic has taken a big step forward. The prefabricated building is nearing competition and is now bolted down to the floating platform (see photo of clinic and TLC1). Things have gone very well except we hit some snags with the construction of the bathroom so we will be completing it ourselves, as some of the aesthetics were lost in translation.

Bathrooms here are purely functional
New Clinic and TLC1
and on the lake they often consist of a simple frame on the back of a building covered with boards, tarps or rice sacks and one or two boards over the water and presto you have, as they say here ...a happy room. It goes without saying that this is an environmental faux pas. Health is the main focus of The Lake Clinic (TLC) along with education, disease prevention and assisting villagers with the use and maintenance of bio sand filters. The TLC wants to lead by example and so we are going to be containing water hyacinths, which are floating aquatic plants that grow like weeds here and containing them in a tank under the bathroom. The hyacinths will capture and treat the waste in an ultra low tech, cheap and easily replicated manner. Jon Morgan, the founder of TLC, is in contact with a man who has done his PHD on the water quality on the lake; his simple method of using these plants, that are voracious feeders, will quickly turn the effluent/black water to near grey water quality, not perfect but eons closer to a solution in this harsh environment with no power and miles from anywhere.

Thatched hovels
Each day we head out to the Port where the clinic is being built. As we travel through town, by the beautiful hotels and into the countryside the poverty slowly starts to emerge and by the time we are in the Port area it is hammering at your senses. The crowded, thatched hovels are crammed together over or on the edge of the lake; the dirt/mud road deteriorates into a bone jarring ride, some days we have to walk as the road is too rough. The heat, smell of rotting fish, dust and lack of toilets
On their way to school
make this a very sad place. Small children play happily in the polluted water not realising what contaminates this water holds, while others pick their way along in bare feet on the way to school (see photos). Every day we are reminded that life can be so unfair and it helps to know that together we are all assisting those that have been placed in these untenable situations.

The doctors, nurses and midwives of TLC have been facing challenges of their own of late. A few weeks ago the TLC 1 lost it transmission; a replacement is on order from Vietnam and still in transit. This has a huge impact on the clinic staff as they have to transport themselves and their gear on a much smaller boat; towing cooking material, medical equipment in an even smaller boat behind. It is getting hot here, 30 plus each day. The teams are putting in long days treating patients then sleeping and eating wherever they can find space on other boats, schools or floating homes for four days a week, basically camping on the lake. We have been out on the lake several times over the years and at the best of times it can be an endurance test. The floating clinic will be going even further afield to the Stung Sen River; with the TLC 1 out of commission that area is not being served at all at present. To say we are inspired by Jon’s vision and commitment to health care and the TLC staff is an understatement; we, the staff and no doubt the villagers are all eagerly awaiting the completion and delivery of the new clinic to serve the Stung Sen area.

Wishing you and yours all the best,

Thanks for your support,

Rick and Adrianne