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Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center Employee Partakes In Volunteer Trip To Cambodia Education Coordinator Gives Hope, Gains Perspective


SUFFERN, N.Y. (December 6, 2012) – Lisa Pavon, Education Coordinator, Professional Development and Education at Bon Secours Charity Health System recently lived out the health care system’s mission to provide Good Help to Those in Need ® when she traveled with other NY/NJ metro area volunteers to Cambodia. Through the philanthropic organization Jewish Helping Hands, Lisa and others spent 10 days helping and educating 57 orphans at a learning center located in a small village outside of Phnom Penh.

With support from Jewish Helping Hands, the learning center was founded by local resident Arun Sothea, who at the age of four was orphaned in the Khmer Rouge reign of terror during the 1970s. Arun made a promise to himself: if I can survive, I’ll go back to my village and make sure no orphans will suffer as I did. He has kept his promise and is committed to helping children attend school rather than work full time in the rice fields.

Each day from sunrise to sunset, Lisa and six other volunteers worked at the village school. They carted bamboo baskets filled with dirt, rocks, sand and cement in sweltering temperatures in an effort to help build the school library. In addition to manual labor, they spent time connecting with the village orphans and school children. They played jump rope and jacks with them, taught English with the help of “Simon Says”, made chalk drawings, balloon sculptures and friendship bracelets. But most of all, “we bonded with these wonderful, vivacious children.” said Pavon.

Although the trip was not meant to be a medical mission, Lisa and one of the other volunteers, Julie Hartman, who also happens to be a Duala, visited a nearby clinic on a day when over 30 pregnant women were waiting for their monthly checkup. Although the clinic’s sonogram machine was outdated, Julie realized it didn’t work because they did not have sonogram gel. With Arun’s help, they arranged to have gel delivered the next day to the clinic, and Julie coached the nurses on how to perform sonograms. The expectant mothers were then able to hear the sound of their fetus’s heartbeat for the first time.

The trip culminated with a gift presentation by the volunteers to the school principals and the orphans. Lisa was asked to bring “non-language” toys, so she, along with the help of the New York Red Bulls Soccer Club, Mahwah Youth Volleyball, friends and fellow Bon Secours Charity Health System employees, brought soccer balls, volleyballs and nets, chalk, jump ropes and more. “With our help, we turned the school grounds filled with long grass and mud, into a playground filled with screaming laughter” Lisa said. The principals, as well as the children, were overjoyed. “Our Cambodian hosts and the children were sure that we were helping them, but the truth is that they helped us.” Lisa added “Knowing I was making a difference in the orphans lives has had a real impact on me. This experience will last forever.”

Jewish Helping Hands is a New York City-based foundation created in 2006 by Rabbi Joel E. Soffin, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Shalom in Succasunna, N.J., with the belief that a little bit of help can make a big difference in someone’s life. In the United States and abroad, JHH projects provide ground-level financial and hands-on support. In each community where it works, local residents determine what would be most helpful. There are many opportunities to get involved including sponsoring a child ($150 per year) and/or providing funds for needed items including water filters ($12 per filter to provide clean drinking water for a family), baby nets ($6 per net to protect from malaria-carrying mosquitos) and bicycles (for the children to travel to school).

For more information, go to www.jewishhelpinghands.org or contact Rabbi Soffin at 212-712-2781.

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About Bon Secours Charity Health System

Bon Secours Charity Health System comprises Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Suffern, New York, and two community hospitals, Bon Secours Community Hospital in Port Jervis, New York, and St. Anthony Community Hospital in Warwick, New York.

Bon Secours Charity Health System also includes a certified home health agency, two long-term care facilities, an assisted living/adult home facility, and several other off-site medical programs.

The Health System, which draws its name from its two Catholic sponsors, the Sisters of Bon Secours and the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, serves nearly 1 million people. With more than 3,400 employees, the Health System is one of the region’s largest employers. For more information, visitbschs.bonsecours.com.

Photo: School Library with volunteers and orphans that helped with building

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