Hoops for HOPE is a small step toward healing a nation that is still feeling the ravages of genocide.
Between 1975 and 1979, a brutal communist regime called the Khmer Rouge exterminated an estimated one-and-a-half to two million Cambodians. In a country of between six and seven million people, the devastation was enormous (around one in every four people were killed).
Typical of communist regimes, intellectuals were specifically targeted -- stories abound of men and women being killed because they owned a pair of glasses (if you had glasses, you could read, and if you could read, you were an intellectual).
The national nightmare began to come to an end when Vietnamese forces invaded the country in 1979 and drove the Khmer Rouge into the forests, where they continued to dwindle in power for two decades until they finally surrendered in 1999.
But the country was devastated. The Khmer Rouge had brutalized and slaughtered its people, and had all but exterminated anyone with an education. The vital infrastructure of the already-weak nation was in shambles.
In 1996, visionaries from Japan, Australia, and the United States joined hands to establish the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope (SHCH) in Phnom Penh, which not only provides free care to the neediest Cambodians, but also seeks to train nationals in cutting-edge medicine so that they can be sent to serve in other hospitals across the country and bring healing not just to one city, but to an entire nation. The Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope has since become a leading center of medical training in Cambodia. It is known across Cambodia as the “Angel Hospital.”
In 2009, the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope treated its millionth patient: a widow and mother who received treatment for HIV and (through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity) was also given a home.
2009 was also the year that Phil Arsenault, spurred on by the encouragement of Douglas Arthur, created Hoops for HOPE. Phil, an avid runner, found himself walking a 5k to raise money for the poor. Turning to Doug, he said, “This is pathetic! We need to do something radical! We need to play basketball for twenty four hours to raise money for the poor!” Doug, with his usual enthusiasm, said, “OK!”
What began as something of a pipe dream has since raised well over $300,000 dollars for HOPE Worldwide and its hospitals in Cambodia (our dream is to reach $1,000,000)!
In 2015, Hoops for HOPE earned a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives for its “monumental strides” in helping the Cambodian poor. It was presented to Phil Arsenault by Rady Mom, the first Cambodian State Representative in the history of the United States.
Meanwhile, there was an affluent German family who had lost their daughter in a tragic accident and -- having a heart for the Cambodian people -- wanted to do something to honor their daughter and to help those who couldn’t help themselves. They poured $8,000,000 into a state-of-the-art facility in Kampot, Cambodia, which they then donated to HOPE Worldwide because of the standard of excellence they have shown in managing the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope. The Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital opened in 2012 and has been a pillar of expert medical care ever since.
We believe that this is only the beginning, and we will continue to strive to do our part in helping to heal a hurting nation. Please join our efforts! Even the smallest gift matters. As Lao Tzu famously said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Rady Mom, the first Cambodian state representative in the history of the United States, presented Phil Arsenault and Hoops for HOPE a Citation from...read more
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