Last week, on the 13th of February, we got to see just how amazing this community is.
Mony, house cook at CWF, is the chief caregiver to her grandmother, Tok Ven (74). Om Tok Ven suffered a bad fall, and had broken her hip. Such injuries require urgent attention, and often surgery, or risk being bedridden for the rest of their days. The expense of this operation was to be around $1000; far outside the reach of an average Khmer family. Although she did not ask for help, Monys friends from all over the world responded with an overwhelming flood of support, easing what could have been a crippling financial burden in less than 14 hours!.
Update 11 March: Om Tok Ven has completed surgery and returned home, thanks for all your support!
Mony has been working for CWF since late 2011, spending most of her time at the house as the cook, where she becomes close with many international volunteers. She is a friendly, kind and caring women, and of course an amazing cook! She is a central member of our CWF family, and part of what makes volunteers time here so special.
When the current volunteers in Phnom Penh heard of her grandmothers fall, they immediately pooled together what they could to help. However, as many know of you know, money can be tight while volunteering!
(The Whiteboard at the house, covered in messages as usual!)
That evening, Soriya made an appeal on Facebook asking friends around the world to chip in. With the help of Erin Baker, she set up a Paypal link by which donations could be collected, and passed on by Western Union. With over 140 volunteers since Mony started at CWF, we knew that just $10 each would more than cover the $1000 operation, and any post-operative care.
The response was immediate, and overwhelming!
In 20 minutes, $200 had been donated. Messages of support and well wishes flooded in, while others shared and tagged to increase visibility.
At 9.05pm, just 2 hours after original post, Erin announced that the total was now over $400, and we were confident enough of reaching our goal that Soso was going to tell Mony to go ahead with the operation as soon as possible.
At 3.45am Cambodian time, Erin came back online from Australia to announce that the $1000 target had been reached! With exchange rates at 4.00am, we had reached $1200 in less than 8 hours!
(Note the $1,762 listed above is in AUS Dollars, before exchange to USD. Names have been removed, you know who you are.)
Erin decided to remove the paypal link to make sure there were no more donations after the money had been transferred later that morning, and called everything closed at 9.00am. The goal had been reached so fast, and so many people were still wanting to help, we were afraid there would be too much money to use! At 9.45am, less than 14 hours after Soso posted, $1346.70 was transferred via Western Union (Erin kindly covered the transaction fee). With the addition of the money raised by current volunteers in Phnom Penh, we had $1446.70 to cover the operation and post-operative care for Om Tok Ven.
We were all blown away by how quickly the money was raised, it was completely unexpected! We know that many people wish they could have donated but missed out, and we appreciate it so much! Your kind words and well wishes were a great help to Mony during a difficult time.
Later that day, Soso and I went to visit Mony and Om Tok Ven at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital. Conditions in the hospital are not ideal, but at least family are able to visit and care for their loved ones. Mony was obviously emotional, and had not slept or eaten well. Her first words to me were “Orkun thom thom, love love my friends!”. Om was awake and alert, looking strong despite her injuries. Soriya gave Mony the money (cash in an envelope) with a few short words of support from everyone. Mony asked me to say to everyone how deeply grateful she is, and she wishes to thank everyone and wish them all good health and good luck. She was amazed at how much everyone was willing to help, and so quickly.
There have been some delays and complications, however we expect the operation to proceed as soon as possible.
Thank you everyone for all your support! Once again we are blown away by the response of this community. We will keep you posted on Om Tok Vens progress!
UPDATE, 28th February:
Soryia has posted on FB to say that the surgery has been successfully completed, and Grandmother Tok Ven will be staying in hospital for a short time to recover. Thank you all for your concern and support!
UPDATE, 11th March:
Om Tok Ven has now left the hospital and returned home! Total hospital bills were around $1300, the remaining $146 will be used to make her as comfortable as possible while she makes a full recovery.
One more time, thank you all so much!