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Nun offers holistic healing for poor

Sister Maiocchi aims to offer 'hope, encouragement and love'

A nun at St. Joseph center encourages a patient A nun at St. Joseph center encourages a patient
  • Phat Samphy, Phnom Penh
  • Cambodia
  • March 10, 2011
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In Lim, 56, from a village in southern Cambodia, says she would have died of illness if not for the Church’s health care program in Phnom Penh.

“I had no money. I would have died if not for a priest who took me here,” Lim said. She is one of some 200 poor and sick people who come to stay at the health care center of St. Joseph Parish in the northern part of Phnom Penh each month.

The patients are mostly sent to public hospitals to get treatment, but the Church center provides them with a place to stay, food, medicine and activities that promote a healthy lifestyle, according to Sister Paola Maiocchi, who heads the health pastoral committee of Phnom Penh apostolic vicariate.

“I healed faster because I experienced warmth and encouragement from the people here,” Lim said. Sister Maiocchi affirmed. “We need to offer them hope, encouragement and love.”

The nun also said parishes and Catholic NGOs in rural areas look out for these poor and sick people and send them here. The center asks whoever can afford to give a monetary contribution.

Chem Soy, a worker at the health center, says most patients are from remote areas. They get ill because of lack of hygiene and not enough protein. “Here we teach them hygiene and what kind of food to eat.”

Nim Sokhak, a 27-year-old patient, says he is thankful not only for the accommodation, food, medicine and hygiene training at the center, but also enjoys his time with the workers such as singing and playing the piano.

Father Bruno Cosme, St. Joseph parish priest, explains, “We want to encourage poor, ill and vulnerable people. They should not feel hopeless. We want to testify to the love of God to people from all religions.”

The health care center, set up in the mid 1990s, was the brainchild of Bishop Emile Destombes, retired apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh.

With the success of this health care center, another -- St. Elisabeth health care center – was set up in 2007 in the southern part of the city, to receive long-term patients from across the country.

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