CambodiaPRIDE's Snake Anti-Venom Saves Lives!

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 31, 2016

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Flag of Cambodia  , Kampong Thom,
Thursday, August 1, 2013

XO Projects Can & Do Save Lives!
In this entry, I'll summarize Cambodia Pride's Health Risk Education Projects. Following is an update on the "Snake Bite Victim Anti-venom Program" and more.

As I mentioned in the previous entry, I am awe’ed with the results of Elaine Negroponte's dedication to the children and communities served by Cambodia P.R.I.D.E; (“Providing Rural Innovative Digital Education”). And, that I was so personally inspired by my visit to this project in 2011, that I have joined the CP Board as a “Special Advisor.”

You’ll find my detailed entries about that visit, by scrolling down to the Table of Entries below the photo thumbnails on this page and any page of this blog. Entry #’s 38 & 39 are from my first visit to Reaksmy. In my portrait of the XO Laptop Project (38), I wrote that “to me, the real story of the Reaksmy XO Laptop project is about how the children’s computers, their classes and the Internet have and can affect the entire community.” I listed some of the “community benefits” that I saw, that come along with bringing the rural children 21st century information and skills to access it.

In that entry (38), I described a concerning conversation that Elaine and I had about an unfortunate recent death of a young woman from the village. A woman had been bitten by a poisonous snake. She went to the “traditional village medicine person” for treatment. Elaine had told me that the young woman (about 22 years old,) sadly died from the snake bite. Adding to the family grief, the local “witch doctor” told the family that “the snake bit their loved one because she was evil and that’s why she died.”

Poisonous snakes had been found at the primary school, and also at Elaine’s house next door.
We spoke about whether there were any western snake bite treatment facilities nearby. Elaine explained the reluctance of the villagers to try a western medicine clinic. We talked about the possibility of the children learning about snake bite prevention and treatment, so that they could spread this knowledge among their community. Elaine said that the antidote/anti-venom to a snake bite requires knowing which snake has bitten the victim. I pointed out that the children in Reaksmy/Roveing have the Internet. They already know how to use Google. I thought certainly they could have an education unit on snake identification and learn what is needed to save lives in their community.

It is easy to have ideas. It is much harder to implement real change. Our conversation was in November 2011, and by April 2012 Cambodia P.R.I.D.E.‘s lifesaving snake bite prevention and treatment program was up and running.  Elaine has once again accomplished a small miracle. She arranged for a snake expert from Phnom Penh to visit the schools, and together with the teachers, the snake bite education curriculum was in place, anti-venom had been purchased from Thailand and a technician at a district clinic had signed on to learn to administer the life-saving treatment. 2 lives had already been saved. I was awestruck.

Elaine sourced and Cambodia PRIDE purchased the first doses of anti-venom through the Red Cross in Thailand. The polyvalent doses which will work for 4 different types of vipers, costs about $63 each. A full course of treatment might take as many as 12. The monovalent type anti-venom is cheaper at about $39 per dose, and this will work for the more common Malaysian Pit Viper bites (Calloselasma rhodostoma).

I heard that soon, a 3rd snake bite victim was treated at the clinic and lived, and now, word has gotten around! More victims were showing up at the clinic for treatment. Mr. Prum Hay, the clinician, quite seriously says, “who ever knew that there were so many snakes.”
Mr Prum Hay has taken a professional interest in learning more about this life-saving treatment and Cambodia PRIDE hopes to send him to the provincial capital hospital for further training very soon.

In January 2013, Board Member, Ellen Hoffman generously sponsored the purchase of the 2nd round of anti-venom from Thailand. My son, Noah helped with purchase arrangements in Bangkok and Nate Lacroix, the visiting engineer who taught science experiments to the Chung Junior High School kids, hand-carried the second stock of anti-venom to Cambodia from Thailand. By this summer, 2013 the stock was almost used up! And, the Thai Red Cross said they were out of stock until September. Like I said, implementation is the hard part, but Elaine worked miracles and recently found 5 more polyvalent and 17 more monovalent doses in Cambodia. The clinic is once again re-stocked.

My family and friends provided the funds for this latest purchase. I had a big birthday this year and asked only for  “snake anti-venom” via donations to Cambodia PRIDE. Huge Thanks to each of you who donated. You know who you are!

I got the idea from Roger Wander, from Australia, who together with his family and friends made a lovely donation to Cambodia PRIDE to help with classroom supplies and educational programming in honor of his big birthday (same number as mine:)) last year. See Entry 48 in this blog. I’m sure that the Wanders and their friends are pleased to see the valuable work that their dollars have enabled. 

Here is the latest report from the “Snake Treatment Clinic”:

June 26. 2013
Any victim of a snake-bite that comes to the clinic will receive treatment without charge. It does not matter who the victim is. Cambodia PRIDE insists on a fair and non-discriminatory program.
The clinic technician is keeping accurate records on who has been treated, where they live, what kind of bite they suffered, and the results of the treatment.

One person who was bitten by a cobra, sadly died last spring. He had traveled a long distance before treatment It appears that the delay was too long for the anti-toxins to be effective. There seems to be a treatment window of about 2.5 hours after the bite. Around the same time frame, a 16 year old boy received stabilizing preliminary treatment and was sent on to the provincial capitol farther away, for the rest of the treatment. I am happy to report that this teenager is fine.

Mr. Prum Hay's  Report Summer 2013:
In the past month and one half a total of 9 snake bite victims came to the Rovieng Clinic. The victims were all living in the Rovieng District which is a good size. (Elaine says she will try to get the exact area and population -- which will not be easy as there is no real census!)

Eight (8) victims were bitten and identified as the Malaysian Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma). All eight were successfully treated with anti venom and then released.

One (1) was bitten by the White Lipped Tree Viper (Trimeresurus albolabris) and sent to Siem Reap for treatment. "At that time, we did not have the anti venom that covers all vipers -- WE NOW HAVE 5 doses of this broader anti venom."

Two Russell's Viper (Daboia Russellii) were also found this week at the primary school. Although they were small or young, all venomous snake's are borne with fangs and venom and the danger persists no matter what the size or age. This is one of the most dangerous times of year due to the fact that rice farmers are in their fields planting during the rainy season and poisonous snakes are most active now.

That’s 9 more lives saved just recently, due to your generosity and Cambodia PRIDE’s efforts!

Elaine wonders whether, since more and more jungle and forests are disappearing in Cambodia, and the many creatures whose habitat are being disturbed now is contributing to the increase in wildlife (and snakes) in the villages and rice paddies. She says: “We continue classes our classes on poisonous snakes and all the children (unfortunately) are now quite capable of identification.”

And now, that this program has begun, there is no stopping it.
Cambodia PRIDE continues to educate the children at all the schools where it works and obviously the children, victims and their families now understand the science behind and the availability of life-saving procedures in their rural area. The students, teachers and Elaine sincerely thank you all for thinking and caring about them and their community.

Other Health Education Initiatives

Organic Garden & Nutrition
Cambodia PRIDE’s other health risk education initiatives include the primary school’s organic garden and nutrition program, which helps to feed the Primary School students. You can read about this and see photos of the children in their garden, in the previous entry (51).

Handwashing and Hygiene

The children were taught the importance of hand-washing and basic principles of hygiene years ago. At the Reaksmy Primary School there are 2 hand washing stations. One is just outside of the Computer Learning classroom and the other is just outside of the English classroom across the courtyard from one another.

At the Chung Family Junior High School, there is a hand washing station between the English and Computer Rooms. This initiative began to help keep the Laptop keyboards and screens clean and to discourage the transmission of illness among the kids collaborating and sharing laptops.

Water & soap for routine hand washing is not readily available in this area of of Cambodia. All of the schoolchildren are welcome to use the stations. The children in the Computer and English classes at both schools are required to wash before coming to class. They share their knowledge about avoiding transmission of fecal germs and illnesses, with the other schoolchildren, and hopefully, with their families as well.

Lightening Safety Education Classes
Not only are snakes more active during the rainy season, but many farmers are killed by lightening while working in the fields. Cambodia PRIDE has started classes on “how to protect yourself in the fields” during lightening storms. These classes differ from the other classes that are taught in English.  “We teach these important classes in the Khmer language because we want students to understand and spread the knowledge to their family and friends.”

The students have already learned how to crouch down to become a small target and to spread out leaving at least 10 meters between each other. Some classes on ‘cloud reading’ are planned to help the students predict stormy weather and be better prepared. In rural Cambodia, anticipating bad weather is not about being prepared with an umbrella or raincoat. It is about safety and can mean the difference between life and death.


“The good news is that snake bite victims are learning NOT to go to the local witch doctor as they had in the past.”
Elaine N.

In Cambodia, a few dollars can go a long way. It does not cost so very much to save lives and change lives. But Cambodia PRIDE’s health risk education programs, especially, the life-saving snake-bite treatment and anti-venom program cost money. Now that the word is out, Cambodia PRIDE needs to continue funding the purchase of anti-venom. This is your opportunity to save a life. Please consider making even a small donation, as every dollar raised will contribute to a life saved.

Unlike many organizations that come and go, Cambodia~PRIDE has maintained a positive presence and become a trusted part of the Reaksmy community for over 13 years. All donations are used directly for paying teachers, purchasing supplies, for its schools and other programs. Elaine points out that “we have no overhead: no office, no car, and no board salaries or compensation. Our efforts are solely behalf of the children of Reaksmy as we believe that everyone needs a chance to learn.” The children and families in this poor rural area of Cambodia have better futures because of Cambodia Pride’s diligent and competent presence there.

Cambodia PRIDE's teachers are integral to all of it's programs and CP is committed to paying a fair wage, one that is significantly more than what teachers employed by the government earn. Elaine says that "Cambodia PRIDE's teachers deserve all of the credit for the success of its programs. They are true professionals. They work incredibly hard, and the children's successes and those in the community are due to their continued dedication, talent and commitment."

Donations fund Cambodia Pride’s work and make its continued programming possible. Every donation, small or large is meaningful and deeply appreciated. Find out how to give here:

Cambodia Pride is listed by Guide Star, a respected charity and non-profit watchdog group.

Cambodia Pride thanks all of its supporters for helping them to do its work improving the lives of very poor Cambodian children and families. With your help, children with no other opportunity for education learn basic computer and Internet skills necessary for success in the 21st century. Hopefully they will have the tools they need to become more successful adults; parents, farmers, teachers, scientists, medical workers, and business men and women.

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