The story began in a time of civil unrest in the aftermath of one of the most devastating genocide events in the world’s history. It was a time when the education and public health systems had to be built again from scratch; a time when “the rich were poor and the poor were even poorer”, and people had nowhere to turn in times of illness or tragedy.
Three international non-profit organizations came together to fulfill a desire from King Norodom Sihanouk to build a free hospital for the poor. These organizations were Japan Relief for Cambodia, World Mate, and HOPE worldwide, which still manages the hospital today.
Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE found itself with a dream of making a difference and the faith to achieve it. Expatriate professionals came from around the world bringing much-needed expertise. Donations were secured from humanitarian organizations, churches and individuals, and Cambodian health professionals dedicated their careers to the hospital’s success. Even as pundits and experts derided the notion that a free hospital could sustain itself, the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE not only survived but achieved national recognition as a Center of Excellence in care, training and research.
Much has changed in 21 years. Life expectancies have increased from 58 to 70 years old. The rich are now rich and can access care at the new hospitals that are being built to serve them. However, for the rural rice farmers, the young garment factory workers and the 13.5% of the population that still lives in extreme poverty, life has not changed much since the mid-1990s. Simple illnesses can still be a death sentence. Access to quality, affordable health care is elusive. Largely unregulated private providers peddle expensive and ineffective treatments. The need for Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE remains.
The past two decades have held challenges for the hospital, but also countless victories. Now, resilient and confident, the hospital looks to the future and finds it bright and full of promise. We hope you will enjoy the many stories on this website of the lives touched by Sihanouk Hospital, and we hope you will be inspired to imagine the stories to come in the decades ahead.