ISF Extends Healthcare Benefits During Covid-19
Stacked rubbish, poor sanitation, and lack of access to healthcare are some of the biggest problems in the urban slum communities we serve. In fact, inadequate drainage in a community near our Chbar Ampov campus regularly forces residents to flee rising waste-infused waters during the rainy season. Poor public health standards like these often lead to chronic health issues that disadvantaged families don’t have the resources to properly treat.
10-year-old Kunthea* lives in one of these settlements. Offering healthcare to her along with the hundreds of other ISF students who live in similar areas is one of the most important pillars of our holistic support system. Without addressing illness in our student body, mental acuity and attendance would surely suffer throughout their educational career.
In 2015, Kunthea moved to Phnom Penh with her family. She studied in grade 1 when they first arrived. But after her parents’ divorce, she was left in the care of her grandmother who simply couldn’t afford school fees for her and her five siblings. These dire financial circumstances also meant that doctor’s visits were infrequent and healthcare fell to a very distant second behind the need to eat. This all changed though, when she started studying at ISF.
At the suggestion of a village leader in Chbar Ampov, Kunthea’s grandmother enrolled her in our Catch-Up Education Programme. In 2019, Kunthea resumed her education as a grade 1 student once again. While engaged in our programme, Kunthea not only receives cost-free education, but also two daily school meals, nutritional support for her family and access to healthcare. When she began at ISF, like all others, she was immunized and taken to the dentists, ear doctor as well as an eye specialist to determine if she had any medical conditions to be addressed.
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These benefits continue as our schools are closed to prevent community spread of COVID-19. This includes healthcare and monthly food parcels containing 20kg of rice, salt, seasoning sauces and cooking oil. Also, because of her family’s dire situation, they also receive an additional food parcel containing 10 Kg of rice, canned fish, soap, tooth paste, toothbrushes, and hand sanitizer. Since the closure, Kunthea has often had headaches and fevers, but since our nurses’ offices remain open, she’s able to get treatment at ISF. She’s also attended two of the workshops our nurses have offered teaching students the importance of personal hygiene in reducing COVID-19 infection. In these lessons, she has learnt how to clean her hands and body properly, the symptoms of COVID-19, how it can be transmitted, and how to prevent infection.
When asked if she feels safe staying home during Covid-19 pandemic, Kunthea confessed, “I do, because I always stay inside and don’t go out to socialize with other children. I only go out to collect recyclable waste with my grandmother, and when I do, I always keep proper distance from others and wash my hands regularly.” Though her family’s financial circumstances necessitate that she help her grandmother scavenge, even with ISF support, Kunthea reports bringing hand sanitizer with her whenever she goes out to prevent infection.