Archive for the ‘Sight Centre’ Category

Advanced Rose NZ Retinal surgical training team visit Rose Cambodia Eye Hospital

20150705_175911Images from the groundbreaking June 2015 Rose Charities NZ retinal surgical training team visit toDr Vra and Natalia’s Rose Cambodia Eye Hospital. June 2015. With retinal surgeons Dr. Muhammad Khalid, from Hawkes Bay and

Mike Webber (GNZM) examines a patient

Mike Webber (GNZM) examines a patient

Dr Rob Weatherhead .

This enormously successful visit organized by ike Webber (GNZM) Optometrist of Wanganui NZ , and funded by generous NZ donors resulted in a major upgrade of retinal surgical capacity in the excellent facilities of  the new international standard hospital   built by Dr Vra. The original Kieng Khleang clinic remains to help meet the huge demand in Rose Cambodia’s services to the poor

Hawkes Bay Retinal Surgical Consultant Dr. Muhammad Khalid in hands-on training

Hawkes Bay Retinal Surgical Consultant Dr. Muhammad Khalid in hands-on training

More images

New operating microscope from NZ for Rose Sight Center.

mike-microscope-vra-dan-hitMike Webber (Rose NZ Trustee) delivers  a wonderful NZ donated  Topcon  operating microscope to Dr Hang Vra (left) and the Rose Eye Clinic.  Mike and Anne Webber  brought  up from NZ and assembled it on site. The donation will  give  considerable upgrade in the clinics remarkable services for Cambodian blind and/or in need of eye surgery. The scope was taken up to Cambodia by Mike and Anne Webber and assembled there by them on site by them.

The Rose Charities Cambodia Eye Clinic / Sight Center has treated over 100,000 patients in the last 10 years.  It also runs an outreach program, taking eye screening, out to rural areas as well as promoting eye health.

The Rose Charities Cambodia Eye Clinic / Sight Center has treated over 100,000 patients in the last 10 years.  It also runs an outreach program, taking eye screening, out to rural areas as well as promoting eye health. The clinic was founded in 1997 though had to be entirely re-equipped when it was looted by an expatriate orchestrated group of thieves in 2003.

Unsung Heroes Cambodia: a new book !

We are proud to announce that we have been featured in new book that is being released shortly. ‘Unsung Heroes Cambodia: People and Projects Making a Difference’ is a non-profit book that is a collection of inspirational stories about NGO’s that also raises awareness about the complex issues surrounding voluntourism. It offers practical tips for anyone interested in helping whether by donating time, money or equipment. It also is filled with stunning photography that presents a side of Cambodia that is heartfelt and unique (in the large format book – an ebook version will also be available for travelers).
To receive information on this book (which is raising money for the projects it includes) please join the mailing list by using this link:
You can also join us on Facebook/ Unsung Heroes Cambodia.

Rose Charities New Zealand Newsletter very focused on Cambodia

Village eye screening – Cambodia


Rose Charities New Zealand Newsletter 2012

From NZ with love; a truck for eye outreach !

Rose Charities NZ has donated the funds for a truck to Rose Cambodia Eye/Sight Centre for their outreach program.  Collecting for the truck was primarily orchestrated by Mr Mike Webber, Optometrist and Rose Laureate 2009,  of Wanganui  who worked tirelessly to see the project through. In Mach 2012 a fundraser was held  ( which hosted over 110 people and, thanks to the Wanganui attendees,  raised over $NZ5000. The remainder was donated with huge generosity by a private NZ Foundation which specifically targets international projects which have outstanding cost effectiveness (as the Eye Centre does) .

The Rose Cambodia Sight Centre / Eye Clinc has now been operating since 1997, some 15 years (at the time of writing). It has treated well over 100,000 Cambodians the majority of who have been extremely poor, giving them free or low cost blindness preventing treatments or restoring sight mainly through cataract operations.
Many of the techniques for low cost eye surgery have historically been thanks to great New Zealanders such as Ray Avery or Fred Hollows so the centre carries on a  a long and distinguished NZ history
Rose Charities New Zealand’s relationship with the Cambodia Sight Centre was initiated by John Veale (Optometrist Christchurch) in the year 2000 who then introduced Mike Webber and Dr David Sabiston (retired). The three have spent over a decade working with Drs Hang (clinic co founder) and Natalia Vra suppling materials, equipment, and most importantly of all, their considerable expertise to help bring the clinic to the leading eye Centre it is today in Cambodia.
In recent years, outreach programs for village level screening and eye care promotion have played an increasingly important role. Some of the roads to the villages become almost impassable in the wet season so a strong vehicle is needed, both for access and to be able to return patients to the clinic.
The truck is a fantastic gift, so needed: it will be pivotal in the continuation and expansion of delivery of high quality eye care to poor Cambodians.   Thank you Wanganui and other generous donors !

Honourary Rose Fellowship for an amazing Kiwi Eye Surgeon

Dr David ‘Sabo’ Sabiston

Rose Charities International has conferred Dr David  ‘Sabo’ Sabiston with its top ‘Honourary Fellowship’ title.  The title is only considered for persons who have had many many years of outstanding charitable efforts in their past, not only for Rose Charities but in any sphere or with any other organization too.  Dr Sabiston of Hamilton, New Zealand, is a most worthy recipient of the title having had a lifetime of helping others worldwide,  Africa to the Pacific Islands in both the delivery and teaching of ophthalmic surgery.

Over the past 10 years Sabo has been helping the Rose Charities Cambodia Sight Centre, both as a Rose Charities New Zealand board member and then continuing after retirement.  The Cambodian operative eye unit was in dire need of assistance in 2002 (having recently been looted of all its equipment by thieves).  John Veale of Chritchurch (optometry)  generously traveled to the center around that time then introduced it to Sabo and Mr Mike Webber (optometry), who then proceeded, year after year,  to assist its re-establishment and re-equipping. With this input the centre has (2012) now treated over 100,000 poor Cambodians and has grown, Directed by one of its founders, Dr Hang Vra, to its position as Cambodia’s foremost eye facility.  The efforts of Sabo in this work, in teaching, raising resources and being always being available as a bastion of support has been completely outstanding. Thousands Cambodians have had their lives restored as a direct result.

Mrs Anne George receives

Fellowship title award

on behalf of Sabo in

Penang March 2012

Recently, Dame Silvia Cartwright (Patron of Rose Charities New Zealand and Ex. Governor General of New Zealand) specifically wrote to praise the work of the clinic.

Both Sabo and Mike Webber are also worthy recipients of the New Zealand ‘Order of Merit’ – one of the highest civilian awards New Zealand offers.

The Rose Charities Fellowship honours Rose Charities in equal measure to the recipient. All members of the network are proud and hounoured by Dr Sabiston accepting this title.   The award ceremony was performed at the IVth Rose Charities International Meeting Penang in March 2012.  Sadly, Sabo was unable to attend himself through health reasons, but Ms Anne George of Rose Charities was able to accept on Sabo’s behalf and also read out some much appreciated words from Sabo carried over from New Zealand

New Zealand Eye Team help screen in rural Cambodia with Village Health and Community Development

John Veale and Mike Webber (Optometrist Consultants, from Rose Charities New Zealand) went to Cambodia in mid-December, 2011. Their mission was to once again spend time at the Rose Charities Sight Centre in Phnom Penh with staff, training, ‘fine tuning’ and/or suggesting ways that could help in improving performance. The clinic now performs at a very high level of competence now in all areas of eyecare from surgery, medical ophthalmology and provision of spectacles after refraction, so the last six years of visits from the NZ team ( Dr. David Sabiston, John Veale and Mike Webber) , have proved very worthwhile.

Another aim of the work this visit was to attend and help at one of he outreach clinics undertaken by Rose clinic and staff. This is a strategy started this year to coordinate with a new Governmnent program for the rural poor. Seven NGO’s have signed up for the program, with Fred Hollows and Rose Charities being the first two groups to start outreach clinics and provide cataract operations to those to whom they never would have been previously available. The target is to perform 50,000 cataract operations by the year 2018 in Cambodia.

Rose Charities had planned for many years to commence rural clinics but in 2002 its vehicles and equipment were stolen by an crooked expatriate causing considerable delay to the program. Without this crime, The Rose Charities Sight Centre would by now have been able to assist many more poor Cambodians than the 100,000 it has assisted since 2002.

Mike Webber and John Veale attended the first Rose outreach clinic in the Kandal province and about an hour and a half drive from Phnom Penh. There was an official opening ceremony filmed by Tv news, and a high ranking Governmental official from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, before they we got down to business of screening.

They saw 253 patients, and of these about seventy were to be referred to the Rose Sight Centre for surgery for treatment at a later date. These patients were later transported down to Phnom Penh by truck (free), and taken home same way after treatment.

Dr. Hang Vra and his team conduct these outreach clinics once every two weeks at different locations in the provinces. The second outreach clinic saw 296 people and referred 125 referred to the Rose Charities Sight Centre for surgery.

Third outreach clinic saw 100cases`referred for surgery. The surgery in all these cases was predominantly for cataracts.

Mike Webber and John Veale also attended and helped at a program called Village Health And Community Development. This is a program run by Dr Veronica Ventura, an American gynecologist, who is based in Singapore. Both the Rose Charities Sight and Rehab/Surgical Centres cooperate with Village Health and Community Development programs where assistance can be given.

Dr Ventura has four such projects going in Cambodia. Her method it to target a village off the beaten track in Cambodia and takes in teams of various medical specialties, including ophthalmic, and to survey the health and needs of these isolated people. The program that John and Mike attended was in a village some one and a half hours drive from Kompong Thom, a town on the main road north to Siem Riep and geographically in the centre of Cambodia.

On this occasion The Singaporean team consisted of Dr Veronica Ventura, four Ophthlamic registrars in various stages of training, two optometry students, a lecturer in Optometry from the Singapore School, a group of medical students, and the Rose Charities NZ team (Mike and John). It was effectively a vision outreach program. The registering of patients, and various examinations were undertaken in classrooms in the village school. Over four days, 702 people were` seen for full health checks, and eye examinations. Of these about eighty required surgery ( 77 cataracts), and 220 pairs of ready made readers were supplied. A few required custom spectacles to be made up at Rose clinic in Phnom Penh. The surgery patients were to be
be transported free to the Rose clinic by Village Health, and receive their surgery free under the Government program a the Rose Sight Center. The Government program is generously sponsored by ABC Tissue.

Gratitude and Appreication: John and Mike would like to acknowledge PHF Foundation for their financial support in purchasing a Keeler Hand Held slit lamp for Dr Vra, Belinda and
Kevin Way (OIC) for their gift to Rose clinic of two Neitz ophthalmoscopes, Dr. Geoff Duff for his donation of a Perkins hand held to tonometer,
Alison Hall for donating a supply of mydriatics and cycloplegics,

Rose Charities would like to acknowledge the generosity and charity of ABC Tissue for their sponsorship through the Rose Sight Center (and other ngos) to help eye care, blindness prevention and sight restoration to the poor of Cambodia

Keeler Slit Lamp for Rose Cambodia Sight Centre

Rose Charities New Zealand had purchased a new ‘Keller’ portable slit lamp for Rose Charities Sight Centre, Cambodia.  Mr Mike Webber (Wanganui, NZ)  who has provided huge support of the Sight Centre over the years, both with his optometry expertise as well as material input and networking was instrumental in making the donation. The slit lamp will upgrade the Sight Centres outreach services.

In December of this year (2012), Mike will  be travelling together with fellow optometrist and supporter of the Sight Centre, Mr John Veale (Christchurch NZ) to provice Rose Charities assistance  with an large rural optometry screening program organised by the ‘Village Health Development Organization’

A student enjoys her elective at the Sight, Surgery and Rehab Centers

I loved my medical elective at Rose Rehabilitation/Rose eye clinic in Cambodia! I sit in clinics now wondering what I would be doing if I was still out there and reminiscing about this unique experience. 

Cambodia as a country is amazing, it is full of the friendliest people I think I’ve ever met; everybody is keen to help you and make you feel welcome.  This was no different at Rose Rehabilitation centre in Takhmao.  It was a slightly awkward moto journey arriving there from Phnom Penh (capital city) but all the angst quickly disappeared once I saw Joanna, Sophak, Rith and the rest of the team.  They were extremely welcoming, friendly and inclusive; even when there were no medical issues for me to be getting on with – Joanna always invited me to visit the rehab patients in the community to take histories, examine them etc and even teach me.  She (and the rest of the team) answered my questions; always allowing time for me.  It was truly extraordinary to see the healthcare running successfully with limited resources and the variety of patients that Rose Rehabilitation deal with; the immense clinical signs really tested my (limited!) medical knowledge and allowed me to see the aftercare involved in a surgical patient – something I rarely see in hospitals back at home.  This was such a great opportunity to really test my clinical skills too and offer some medical tips back to the team.

I have to stress though that this is not always the case for visiting medical students – it just so happened that my visit coincided with Dr. Sarom’s (the head surgeon) visit to Australia and so I was only able to spend about a week with him.  I had applied for this elective because I am highly interested in surgery and did get to see some cool cleft palate repairs, plastics and grafts but never got a chance to assist unfortunately as I believe Dr. Sarom was training a Khmer doctor at that time. 

It was lucky for me that I have a keen interest in ophthalmology and so I split my time between takhmao (Rose Rehabilitation) and the eye clinic (based in Phnom penh) where I sat in the clinics for the morning and then assisted – that’s right – ASSISTED in ophthalmology surgery in the afternoons!  The eye centre is run by Dr. Vra (who predominantly performs cataract surgery) and his Ukrainian wife – Dr. Natalie (oculoplasty etc) – the rest of the team are lovely however, language is a major problem.  If, by chance, you speak Russian or Khmer – then great!  You will be fine – but if however, you only speak English – it makes life somewhat interesting…. Of course you pick up little things here and there but you can’t really run the clinic or ask the patients much yourself – without a translator.  I was lucky that Dr. Natalie was so keen to teach and wrote everything in English.  She was also very eager for me to practise my surgical skills and although I’m sure I was the local attraction/entertainment at the clinic – her teaching was invaluable.  The very first day there, she made me do an interrupted suture with tiny thread on a blepharoplasty . It soon progressed to me doing complete operations on my own – supervised of course.  If you’re keen or even interested in ophthalmological surgery – this is the place to be, there is nowhere in England that you will get such experience at our level – it is impossible so I am truly grateful for the opportunity I had to complete my elective here.  However, if you are squeamish, then I suggest maybe just attending morning clinic (start at 8am-12pm) as all the patients are under local anaesthetic only for their surgeries!

Bits of advice/ things I wish I’d known before I came:
–    Bring your own scrubs especially for eye clinic and id suggest taking your own crocs too but they all wear flip flops.
–    If you can get sterile hats then bring them too.
–    I’d suggest staying in Phnom Penh – purely as there’s so much more to do there, and it really caters for westerners.  I stayed in Europe Guesthouse on Street 136, which had the perfect location and was run by the loveliest family!
–    Take a book with you to read if you’re spending time in Takhmao as everything runs on “Cambodian Standard Timing” and you do end up waiting around for patients etc.  There is a medical ward there but the doctors speak only Khmer or French.  Dr. Sarom is excellent and speaks good English however. 
–    Getting to Takhmao – if you can arrange for the directions to be written in Khmer and find yourself a nice tuk tuk driver that will do you a deal – take it! I went with a friend of mine (Physio volunteer) from Phnom Penh via tuk tuk there and back and it came to $7 a day but I’m sure it can be done cheaper.
–    At the eye clinic – there is a nice canteen around the back where doctors and other volunteers from the opposite surgical centre eat – lovely dinner ladies and you can eat as much as you want for 2000 riel – that equates to around 25p!
–    Definitely try sugar cane juice when the lady comes around on her moto too.
–    Uniform – it’s so hot (esp. during march-may) that I wore cropped trousers, shorts, and decent tops – there’s no need in dressing too smart as everybody is pretty laid back.
–    Be prepared for things to “go with the flow” – it is not a regimented elective – which I think is good as it really allows you to immerse yourself in Cambodian nature.
–    Ooh if you’re vegetarian – learn the words in Khmer for “no meat, no fish” etc and just re-iterate that when you go to eat. I found it difficult to find vegetarian food – esp. in Takhmao but it’s understandable as it’s not in Cambodian nature to not eat meat!  However, Sophak, Sokney and Joanna all made sure the dinner ladies at Takhmao had some vegetables for me; they really look after you during your elective so just remember to have fun!

Three amazing ‘givers’ to poor Cambodians

Three amazing ‘Givers’ to Cambodia.  Left to right, Dr Hang Vra (Cambodia), Mr Mike Webber (NZ), and ‘M’ (USA)
Dr Vra has given most of his adult life to helping poor Cambodians with their eye problems. Through hard work he has not become one of Cambodias leading eye specialists. In 2002 his clinic was looted and vandalized by a crooked expatriate, leaving it as a bare shell  Despite this he kept on coming to comfort the throngs of expectant patients who had been deprived of treatment by the looting. He is a Cambodian hero.
Mike Webber of Wanganui, NZ , consultant optometrist, has contributed huge amounts of time, resources and know-how on a completely voluntary basis to the clinic, flying up from NZ many many times. Without him (and colleagues, Dr David Sabiston and Mr John Veale) the Sight Center would not now exist
‘M’ an international philanthropist donated the YAG-laser’ seen in the background. This remarkable machine revolutionizes the treatment of many post-cataract complications as well as enabling effective treatment of glaucoma.
The good that these three individuals have done for poor Cambodians is outstanding.  Many thousands have benefited: