At least once a month we visit each of the elderly under our care. Ath Tun, our staff member who lives near the villages where most of the poorest elderly live, goes once or twice a week and visits a few of the elderly each trip. Then, at least once a month (depending on what funds we have available) staff from the New Day New Life office along with Ath Tun, and sometimes with other volunteers, we will distribute food to the poorest elderly and spend time meeting with them and socializing.
On a number of occasions, Em Sok (who is 78 years old and who is blind) has told us that he feels hot and has difficulty breathing. We don’t have anyone in our team that has any medical training so we thought that perhaps he might have a fever or is just hot because of the weather. On some of the monthly visits we have been able to give him some simple paracetamol medicines and some vitamins in addition to bringing him food for the month. We were also able to bring him a fan because his hut is very hot and doesn’t have much air circulation.
On one of the visits there was a volunteer (Melinda Lim, a Singaporean missionary from Brave Ministry) who joined us and they suggested we should take him to have a check-up in a good hospital in Phnom Penh. On returning from the visit to see Em Sok, Melinda graciously spoke to her supporters overseas and was able to raise funds for us so we could pay for Em Sok to get a checkup and for related medical expenses.
So in early June we arranged with Ath Tun to bring him to Phnom Penh for a health checkup. Ath Tun and Em Sok arrived late in the afternoon at the house of Maria Thyda Rath and spent some time resting and sharing a meal with us.
The following day, Ath Tun and Maria Thyda Rath took Em Sok to a nearby NGO hospital where he had a number of checkups including X-ray and Ultra-sound on his chest / lungs. The doctors examined the results of these tests and X-ray and Ultra-sound and suggested that he should go to a specialist at another hospital. All of the tests and consultation took a few days and was very tiring for Em Sok but at the end, he was told that about one-half of his lung was destroyed and they suspect that this was from tuberculosis that had not been diagnosed or treated when he was younger – probably during the time of the Khmer Rouge Regime when conditions and life were so very difficult.
After all of the consultations Em Sok still had to wait a few more hours till he was able to get medicine from the hospital and in his last consultation, the doctor kindly spent a long time talking with him explaining his health problems that they found and trying to explain that he should be very thankful that he has lived so long because with such a serious condition the doctors would normally have expected his life expectancy would be short.
Because of the seriousness of Em Sok’s condition, the doctor was trying very delicately to tell Em Sok that his condition was life threatening. Rather than being discouraged, Em Sok said to the doctor how blessed he was that he could come to Phnom Penh and to see a doctor and go to a hospital for the first time in his life. He was full of joy and was thankful he had medicines and he felt encouraged that he still had plenty of life to live. We know that this joy came from God.
At New Day New Life we know that God has held Em Sok in His hand all these years so that Em Sok can hear and experience the good news of God’s love for his life. We see the miracle that, despite the most difficult conditions that Em Sok has endured – with his blindness, his tuberculosis and the difficult life during the Khmer Rouge and living in such poverty – that God has cared for him so that he can have the chance to know first-hand that God loves him and to hear the message of salvation.
Follow-up note: Ath Tun recently visited Em Sok (in early July 2018) to check on him and he told Ath Tun how good he is feeling – that he can sleep well again and he’s able to breathe better. Praise God for this miracle of healing!