August 14, 2018
(as prepared for delivery)
H.E. Dr. Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health;
H.E. Ly Thuch, Senior Minister and 1st Vice President of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victims Assistance Authority (CMAA);
H.E. Dr. Mau Thaknin, Governor of Pursat Province;
Mr. Ben Vanna, Mayor of Krakor District;
Dr. Khoy Dy, Director of Pursat Health Department;
Mr. Dr. Nop Sophin Director of the Krakor Referral Hospital;
Distinguished guests, Krakor Health Center staff, and citizens of Krakor;
Thank you very much for inviting me to say a few words at this inauguration ceremony today. This event is very special for two reasons.
First, this very modern new building behind us demonstrates in a concrete way the strong partnership between the United States and Cambodia on improving health care for Cambodian citizens across the country. This 11-room hospital facility will improve healthcare services for the 90,000 people in Krakor and nearby districts, allowing for private medical consultations, pre-natal and post-deliver care, and a pediatric emergency room.
This particular hospital building is funded by the humanitarian arm of the U.S. military. It is the 32nd medical clinic, school, or sanitary facility the United States has built in Cambodia with humanitarian funding since 2013, totaling over $6 million USD in grants – not loans – from the American people. We have six more projects we hope to complete in the next two years. I want to thank you, Mr. Minister, for your support of our work together across Cambodia.
This ceremony is special today for a second reason as well. As you all know, my wife Sotie was born and raised right here in Krakor. In fact, her childhood home was right across the street. For those of you who remember Krakor in the 1970s, her father was the local weatherman, or “météo.”
This project has been planned for many years, since long before I came to Cambodia as Ambassador. So when I saw this hospital building on our project list, I knew it was fate. Of all the towns in Cambodia, what are the chances of such an important project being built in my wife’s home town?
I asked the U.S. military to speed this project up, so that we could dedicate it before my term as Ambassador ended. I wanted to cut the ribbon myself because this new building not only shows the United States’ strong support for helping Cambodia improve its health system. It also shows the powerful people-to-people ties between the United States and Cambodia, symbolized by this hospital building, the town of Krakor, and by my wife Sotie.
In a few more months we will be departing Cambodia and a new Ambassador will arrive to take my place. I will take many memories back home with me to the United States, but none will be more special than my five trips to Krakor.
We flew in on a helicopter, held a family ceremony at the wat, and saw a student group perform a wonderful peacock dance. I feel very happy to call the district governor, Mr. Ben Vanna, my friend.
To the young people here today, I hope you will study hard, learn English, and someday come to the United States so that you can see my home town too.
Once again, it is a pleasure to come and participate in this ribbon cutting ceremony, and I wish all of you good fortune, prosperity, happiness, and good health!
Thank you very much, and thanks again for coming out today.