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Cambodian psychiatrist calls award cause ‘to work even tougher’ — Radio Free Asia

Cambodian psychiatrist Chhim Sotheara, considered one of 4 winners of this 12 months’s prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, was stunned to be taught he had received the award and didn’t know he had been nominated to obtain it, he advised RFA in an interview this week.

“At first, I didn’t consider it, as a result of I hadn’t utilized for it,” Sotheara mentioned. “I assumed at first it was a web-based rip-off,” he mentioned.

“This can be a helpful award. Only some individuals in Asia have obtained it, and it’s an honor for our nation, as Cambodia shall be acknowledged by means of the award,” Sotheara mentioned. The award additionally acknowledges the efforts he and his NGO have made over the past twenty years to assist the individuals of Cambodia, he mentioned.

“All our staff are so blissful, and this may encourage us now to work even tougher to deserve having obtained the award,” he added.

Established in 1958 and named after the Philippines’ seventh president who died in a airplane crash a 12 months earlier, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is taken into account Asia’s most prestigious prize. It honors individuals throughout the area who’ve executed groundbreaking work of their fields.

Additionally receiving the award this 12 months are Filipina pediatrician Bernadette J. Madrid, French anti-pollution activist Gary Bencheghib, and Japanese ophthalmologist Tadashi Hattori. All 4 are anticipated to attend an awards ceremony in Manila Nov. 30.

Sotheara, 54, was among the many first technology of psychiatrists to graduate in Cambodia after the 1975-79 interval of Khmer Rouge rule that killed an estimated 1.7 million individuals and left many 1000’s of survivors deeply traumatized, a lot of them dwelling in distant rural areas of the nation.

Now govt director of Cambodia’s Transcultural Psychosocial Group (TPO), Sotheara developed the idea of baksbat, or “damaged braveness” — a post-traumatic state of concern, passivity and avoidance thought-about extra related and explicit to the Cambodian expertise.

Sotheara Chhim meets with a patient in a rural area of Cambodia, in an undated photo. Credit: Sotheara Chhim
Sotheara Chhim meets with a affected person in a rural space of Cambodia, in an undated picture. Credit score: Sotheara Chhim

Underserved rural areas

Switching to scientific psychiatry after working for a time as a surgeon, Sotheara later give up his job at a state hospital after he was approached for assist by a affected person coming from a distant group and have become conscious of the wants going unmet in Cambodia’s countryside.

Sotheara’s NGO now delivers therapy on to individuals’s properties and communities, he mentioned. “Once I assist one affected person, I additionally assist his household and group, as a result of when one individual experiences psychological points, we have to deal with the entire household.”

Many Cambodians expertise psychological well being issues, and Sotheara’s TPO has not been in a position to answer all their requests for assist, he mentioned. “However since we began, we’ve improved rather a lot.”

There have been solely 10 psychiatrists at Sotheara’s personal commencement, he mentioned.

“Now we now have round 100 psychiatrists, however we will’t reply all of the calls for made from us as a result of a lot of these specialists like working within the metropolis, and never many work out within the communities.”

Round 80% of Cambodia’s inhabitants dwell in rural areas, and repair should be supplied to these individuals, he added.

Additionally chatting with RFA, TPO worker Taing Sopheap mentioned she has labored with Chhim Sotheara for the previous 15 years and has seen him sacrifice himself each bodily and financially to hold out his NGO’s work.

“If a case is pressing and essential, he’ll work on it whatever the price in time to his crew or to different instances,” she mentioned.

Translated by Samean Yun for RFA Khmer. Written in English by Richard Finney.



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