Wednesday 11 August 2010

Dr. Beat Richner, the good Swiss

On Saturday evening in Siem Reap we attended a concert by Beatocello.

This name, which is well known in Switzerland, is the artist name of Dr. Beat Richner, a Swiss pediatrician, who has made it his life's mission to help Cambodian children. (And whose other passion is playing the cello.)

After having worked in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh for the Red Cross in the 70's, Dr. Richner left the country during the bloody years of the Pol Pot tyranny from 1975 - 1979. He returned in 1991 and was asked by the then king of Cambodia to re-construct the Children's Hospital in Phnom Penh and basically help re-build the health system in this country which was completely on its knees after this terrible civil war (NB: Before Pol Pot there were 1,000 doctors in Cambodia and after his reign, in which he killed most of the elite of this country, there were only about 50 doctors left.)

Now, almost 20 years later, Dr. Richner has managed to build 5 children hospitals across Cambodia - mostly from private donations. A great achievement and something well worth supporting.

Children get free medical treatment. The hospitals use some of the latest medical technology that we are used to in Western Europe (but which is still very much the exception in these poorer countries). Over 2,200 medical staff work at these hospitals. Since its launch in 1992 over 9.5 million kids have been treated at these hospitals.

The concert was a fundraising event, which basically had Dr. Richner and his cello on stage. He played various classical pieces and in between talked about his hospitals (and the challenges he faces every day). He was (surprisingly) direct and talked openly about corruption in Cambodia, his dislike of the global health organisations (and their global "healthcare tourism" as he called it), and his despair of not getting more funding from governments or other official organisations.

Over 90 % of the hospital's funding is still coming from private donors and so also this concert ended with a plea for donations.

We left very impressed by Dr. Richner's achievement (and with our wallets significantly lighter).

We felt that it is definitely a cause worth supporting. If you want to find out more, please visit (and support):

No comments:

Post a Comment