Have you ever thought about how can you help people in need with your profession? For instance, teachers can teach people to learn, carpenters may help the locals to build houses, and doctors, who will treat and cure patients mentally and physically...
Today, we'll share the story of Dr. Elliott Brender, one of our guests, who has been doing the voluntary work with his profession in Cambodia for nearly 10 years. He is exactly the true model for all of us.
This is Dr. Brender, who has done many good deeds for people in Cambodia
"I used My Odyssey Tours for my 6th mission to Cambodia. Overall things went extremely well. Drivers were on time, guides were informative, provided exactly what I wanted. Stayed on time with an extremely busy schedule. I plan to lighten up a bit for the next trip. As you can see I am so satisfied they will plan my next mission of significantly bigger size. I think this will be my 5th experience with this group. Obviously, I think they do a good job as I keep coming back."
--Dr. Brender posted on Facebook after the tour
Dr. Brender is a retired Clinical Professor of Surgery from America, and the year of 2008 witnessed the beginning of his story. One day, he received a letter from the People to People Ambassador Programs regarding his joining a surgical delegation to Cambodia and Vietnam, whose mission was to evaluate the surgical care being provided and to get involved in helping to improve the medical condition in both nations.
Dr. Brender participated in the mission and went to Asia, but he didn't realize this tour would be a big shock for him until he visited two sites in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. "Walking through the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields, learning of the 1.7 million Cambodians murdered by the Khmer Rouge brought back memories of my own family's slaughters by the Nazis during World War II", Dr. Brender said, "And I wanted to do something meaningful for Cambodian people."
This is the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, which shocked Dr. Brender a lot
Since then, Dr. Brender started his Mission in Cambodia with doing good deeds in medical treatment for locals: bringing donated supplies to hospitals, doing volunteer surgery operations for the patients, teaching techniques and giving presentations to the medical students and staff in universities…
Dr. Brender was teaching techniques to medical students and staff
The Mission 6 in November 2016 was Dr. Brender's last experience to Cambodia. As usual, he brought many medical equipments and supplies to the hospitals in need. This time, he and his team visited Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital, Kossamak Hospital, National Pediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh, and headed to Siem Reap to visit Siem Reap Provincial Hospital, Angkor Hospital for Children, Sihanoukville Referral Hospital, Preah Sihanouk Referral Hospital.
Dr. Brender was giving donations to the hospital
On arrival at Siem Reap Provincial Hospital, Dr. Brender was asked to help with a laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the next morning. "I say Yes to them because this is the purpose of the trip: to help, teach and do surgery," Dr. Brender expressed.
On the next day, after the operation got started for a while, these surgeons had a combination of problems: The trocars had been reused so many times that a blade, which supposed to cut through the fascia in placing the port, was missing – the medical condition here was very poor, and they had to deal with the problem like this from time to time.
"Finally we carefully got the trocar in only to find dense adhesions in the right upper quadrant where the gallbladder is," Dr. Brender said, "In addition all they had I finally said - patient safety first. We opened and within 10 minutes I cut the adhesions, found the gallbladder, and removed it." Luckily, the operation was a success.
Dr. Brender was in the operation
It is hard to tell that how many people have been beneficial from Dr. Brender's missions so far. Take his Mission 6 as an example, Dr. Brender and his team donated 42 pulse oximeters to 7 different medical groups. These can be used to measure the blood oxygenation and are used in surgery and critical care. It is a kind of portable and rechargeable electronic device and can be used over and over again. Now, his missions may have benefited hundreds, or possibly thousands of patients in Cambodia.
-Was there any moment you think of giving up?
-No. I do wonder what will happen as I get older. Will I ever be too old to do this? I am now 70. 10 more years? Sure, why not.
As Dr. Brender told us, he would continue to support Cambodians and even had made a plan for the near future: continue with missions bringing surgeons and visiting various hospitals making donations, teaching techniques; or establish a rotating surgical resident elective.
In the end, Dr. Brender also shared a piece of good news with us: " I've been doing Rotary Club presentations and they are working on a $80,000 Global Grant for me. They are very positive about approval for multiple reasons. Currently, there are international chairs at Rotary Club without an international project so this is timely. Also not only do we help the Cambodian people, but we also help train American surgical residents."
Doing good deeds for people in need is also one of our solid commitments. As a responsible tour operator, we also participate in Dr. Brender's Mission by giving him some donations for the medical equipments. As you can see, on one hand, we try our utmost to support our guests who have the intention of doing charity during their trips; on the other hand, we launch our own CSR projects named My Odyssey Tours Cares to strengthen the support to the local community in the aspects of Animal & Environment, Education & Life, Community Development, and Disaster Relief.
If you're willing to do something meaningful during your trip, please contact our travel consultants at for more details.