December 19, 2017
(as prepared for delivery)
His Excellency Deputy Governor Toch Poliva, distinguished guests, Kraoul Kol Health Center staff, and citizens of Svay Rieng, thank you for the invitation to be here today. As the mother of a four-year-old son, I assure you I am a thrilled and devoted supporter of initiatives to improve maternal health. One of the most memorable and special moments in my life was being handed my son for the first time after I gave birth–I will never forget it.
I am delighted to know that this one-room maternal health clinic will help more families have the same experience. Medical professionals will tell you that a healthy baby is not the result of chance, but by the efforts of a team that includes the family and health care providers. That relationship starts during the pregnancy and continues well after the actual birth.
This one-room health clinic is built to provide a space to protect infants and mothers during the most vulnerable periods of their lives. Fortunately, due to strong Cambodian and United States cooperation, our two governments are able to join hands to continue to provide health facilities to communities such as Kraoul Kol.
At the Kraoul Kol Health Center in Svay Rieng, the United States saw an opportunity to work in concert with the government of Cambodia to add to the facilities of the clinic—in this case, a maternity ward—to make it a better place to care for mothers and their children. Before the completion of this project, the Health Center, which services over 21,000 Cambodians across 23 villages, had only one delivery room and one post-delivery care room. With such a small facility serving this large population, it was difficult for mothers to spend time at the health center recovering from the rigors of childbirth. This maternity ward will now provide the additional room that the health center needs to support these new mothers and their newborn babies.
The Seabees enjoyed interacting with the locals and staff at the health center throughout the course of the project. Meeting many in the community made it easy for the American military members to understand the importance of the work they were doing. Genuine friendships were forged from the hard work and time spent at this facility between the Seabees, the Cambodian community, and staff at the health center. I also want to recognize and thank the Peace Corps volunteers here today working in the education and health fields building partnerships. And particularly give a big thanks to the doctors and nurses at the clinic here who work tirelessly every day for their communities.
The United States is committed to supporting the Cambodian government and its people in efforts to bring these types of capabilities and resources to its citizens. It is our collective dream that the people of Cambodia, and in particular the population serviced by the Kraoul Kol Health Center, live healthy and prosperous lives.
It is my wish that the community members and staff of the Kraoul Kol Health Center continue to benefit from this maternity ward for decades to come. It is a pleasure to come and participate in this ribbon cutting ceremony, and I wish all of you good fortune, prosperity, happiness, and many healthy babies delivered in this ward! Thank you.