Hean Oudom, a 16-year-old student at Phnom Penh’s Zaman International School, was at a loss when his 5-year-old sister became hot and cold with fever.
Worried, his family took Hean Rathanakthidna to Calmette Hospital, and learned she had contracted malaria.
Hean Oudom feels lucky that his sister made a full recovery from the potentially deadly, mosquito-borne illness in 2005, but says he knows there are others in Cambodia who suffer far worse fates.
Hean Oudom is just one student at Zaman who participated in school principal Osman Karaca’s initiative to donate funds to The Cambodia Daily Mosquito Net Campaign—an effort that amassed $1,100 over last year. Hean Oudom gave $5 to that sum, which was presented to the campaign Monday.
Zaman International School opened in 1997 to provide a high-level education in both English and Khmer to students aged 4 to 18.
Today, there are nearly 800 students in attendance, the vast majority of whom are Cambodian, and a staff of 100 teachers drawn from more than nine different countries.
“Most of our students are wealthy,” said Osman Karaca, a Turkish national, adding that he hopes the campaign to raise funds for malaria will teach students to extend a helping hand to those in need.
“We wanted to put solidarity in their hearts,” he said, “and the great thing was that everyone gave.”
Each student was asked to give around $1 and many gave more. There were donation boxes installed in the hallways of the school and many students would empty their pockets of change, said vice principal Ali Yavuz, also a Turkish national.
Zaman spearheads a donation campaign every year among its students and staff for various different causes. Last year, they raised a total of $10,000 in meat, rice, clothes and mosquito nets for the needy.
In addition to the mosquito net campaign, Zaman contributed to various orphanages, pagodas, hospitals and mine-victim centers around Cambodia.
Zaman students learn about malaria in the classroom and have become quite knowledgeable about the disease’s impact in Cambodia, where there were 90,883 cases of malaria treated in public health facilities between January and November 2006, according to World Health Organization malaria scientist Junko Yasuoka. Of that number, 355 ended in death, she said.
Student Sok Leap, 8, said he is aware of the importance of mosquito-net prevention and was particularly eager to help.
“When the poor people do not have nets,” he said, “they won’t survive the sickness of the mosquitoes.”
But 18-year-old student Troent Sreng said he wonders if more could be done than just handing out the nets.
“Maybe the campaign could just go find the mosquitoes in the woods and destroy where they live,” he said.