Astrodienst supports Dr. Beat Richner
Commitment to Kantha Bopha

Beat Richner in concert
Dr. Beat Richner

For many years, Astrodienst has supported Dr. Beat Richner's Kantha Bopha Children's Hospitals in Cambodia. Every year, we donate a considerable sum for this extraordinary and important project which goes to help the mothers and children, the weakest and most defenceless of Cambodian society. Dr. Beat Richner, pediatrician, founder and director of the children's hospitals, is also known in Switzerland by the nickname "Beatocello" because he regularly performs in charity concerts with his cello to help to fund his children's hospitals.

Last year, Astrodienst's president of board, Dr. Peter Isler, spent a private holiday in Cambodia. His journey to Angkor also lead him, more or less accidentally, to Beat Richner. Here his impressions.

Journey to Angkor
Mother and child on the boat
Mother and child on the boat.

"My wife and I visit the temples of the lost city of Angkor in Cambodia. On our way to the art treasures, we pass Jayavarman VII - one of Beat Richner's hospitals. Should we get in touch and see what happens to the annual donations of Astrodienst? But then this well-known pediatrician, who has saved the lives of many thousands of children in Cambodia, has probably better things to do than have coffee with us.

The next day we decide to go on to a fishing village on the Tonle Sap lake instead of traveling to Angkor. Thus we rattle southward on our motorised rickshaw. On our arrival in the fishing village, a woman with a newborn in her arms approaches us and communicates to us by sign language that she needs money to buy medicine for her baby who is suffering from an eye disease. Giving money is always a tricky matter as you never know how it will be used.

on the way to hospital
On the way to hospital
On the spur of the moment, we decide to invite the woman and her child into our motorised rickshaw. She asks a friend to accompany her and we drive straight back to Beat Richner's children's hospital. There are already many other mothers and fathers with little children in the waiting room. We leave the woman and promise to pick her up in three hours' time to take her back. Everything goes well. The baby has received expert treatment. The mother has been given clean blankets and medication. I take her back to her boat. We hope the little one is well.

 

Waiting room
The "waiting room" of the children's hospital. The patients pick up numbers that determine the order in which they will be treated.
Baby on the way home
The baby on the way home.
Visiting Kantha Bopha
Beat Richner and Peter Isler
Dr. Beat Richner (left) with Peter Isler.

While at the hospital I inquire about Beat Richner and whether it is possible to meet him. I am told I could make an appointment for Saturday after his public cello performance. I make an appointment and Beat Richner does indeed appear after the concert for a chat. He is interested in the fact that Astrodienst is a leading company in astrology and is pleased that we support his work. He spontaneously invites us to the opening ceremony of Kantha Bopha V hospital in Phnom Penh, which is also attended by the King and Prime Minister Hun Sen who has the real power in the country. We change our plans so that we can attend the reception.

 

The Prime Minister
Official reception. To the left: Prime Minister Hun Sen.
A speech
Beat Richner's speech. The King is listening.
The King at the VIP stand
The King at the VIP stand.
Beat Richner
Beat Richner greeting people.
Five Hospitals
Operating team
The people in green are the personnel of the operating theatre.
The five hospitals and Aids Maternité in Cambodia are run with a budget of 24 Million Dollars. Medical care is free. More than 2000 people are employed by the hospitals. The only foreigners are Beat Richner and a Frenchman who runs the laboratory. The rest are Cambodian doctors and nurses who were educated locally. Every year about 75'000 children are admitted to the hospital. About 800'000 children receive ambulatory treatment. 400'000 children are vaccinated, 16'000 operations are carried out, 12'000 births are accompanied to prevent children from being infected with Aids or tuberculosis from their mothers. About 3'000 families daily receive instructions on health care.

The 24 Mio $ are raised as follows: the Cambodian government pays 2 Mio $, the Swiss government 2.5 Mio $. The rest is raised through private donations.

We are happy that we can support this important project with our regular donations. Peace on earth will grow as hardship and poverty are eased. We are pleased to be able to contribute and wish Dr. Beat Richner all the best for his untiring commitment to better living conditions."

Dr. Peter Isler, 10.12.2008

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