FOUNDATIONS - PUBLIC HEALTH

A Canadian precious gem

The Khmer Rouge dismantled every part of Cambodian society in the 1970’s through revolution, civil war and systematic genocide. When Brian McConaghy first visited Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand in 1989, he was surrounded by hopelessness, fear and frustration. His determination to alleviate the suffering was solidified when, a few months later in early 1990, he went inside Cambodia proper. He found a country isolated, traumatized, struggling to recover from genocide and still engulfed in civil war. He was overwhelmed but, nonetheless, determined to assist in any way he could. From this small beginning, Ratanak International has grown from one man’s compassion into an international organization dedicated to working with the Khmer people, empowering them to rebuild their country.

During the civil war in the early 1990’s, the central emphasis of Ratanak International’s projects were in the health care field. Medical supplies were shipped in, hospitals and clinics built, immunization programs developed and ambulances supplied. On the waterways we provided a floating clinic, a large mobile medical services boat, and assisted with Cambodia’s first high speed river ambulance. Emergencies can interrupt planned programs and so, in times of crisis, we have funded emergency food distributions and a variety of agricultural programs. In times of devastating flooding, a community-based food for work program was also implemented in which villagers were employed to rebuild dykes and were given food in return for their labour. The plight of orphans and abused children has led to partnership with trusted Christian organizations in the provision of schools, orphanages and shelters. Partnerships like these have also been key in developing literacy, sanitation, and social services programs both in local communities and prisons.

In 2004, these projects continued to impact many lives, but the work of Ratanak International also took on a whole new dimension as it began partnering on projects that rescue and rehabilitate victims of sex slavery. With over two decades of experience working in Cambodia, Ratanak International, despite the immense challenges of tackling child abuse, continues to support rural and urban projects in many provinces and has been privileged to assist in changing the lives of thousands of people. Their vision is to see the Cambodian people, once traumatized, oppressed and exploited, living in cultural, personal and spiritual hope with dignity, and access to social services, health care and quality education.

Ratanak International_homepage

Website: http://ratanak.org/

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Brian McConaghy