I want to go back

From the Olympics to the Research Lab – American-Khmer Student Volunteers with COMRU

Soviija Pou, a 22 year-old student from America, has always had a keen interest in research. After completing his studies in Applied Mathematics, Soviija began working in a research lab where his mentor introduced him to Professor Paul Turner, the Director of the Cambodia-Oxford Medical Research Unit (COMRU) at Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC). Soviija was impressed by the work of COMRU and wanted to know more about healthcare in Cambodia, so he decided to apply for AHC’s volunteer program working in the research unit.

Soviija’s father is Khmer, so he had previously spent a considerable amount of time in Cambodia. In 2013 Soviija successfully competed for the Cambodian National Swim team in the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona, Spain. In 2015 Soviija competed in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, breaking national records in the 100m and 200m Butterfly plus the 100m, 200m and 400m Freestyle. Soviija also competed on behalf of Cambodia in the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Soviija’s duties with COMRU have included collecting and analyzing data, surveillance and observation cases for various diseases. He has also been busy researching the efficacy of treatment options and investigating alternatives for better education and prevention of the disease called melioidosis.

The most challenging part of Soviija’s role has been understanding how the research unit operates and finding where he can best apply his skills for the benefit of the project. However Soviija has found there is a strong culture of learning within the team and he has been well supported: ‘‘The most positive aspect of volunteering with AHC has been working with Dr. Thyl, a Khmer doctor in COMRU because he teaches me a lot about the medical system and medical issues in Cambodia. Both Dr. Thyl and Professor Paul have been great mentors. Furthermore, all of my colleagues in COMRU have been excellent, they’ve taught me a lot and are always willing to help me whenever I have trouble.’’

Thank you Soviija for so generously donating your time and skills to our research unit, your contribution has helped support our research into critical child health issues. To learn more about how you can get involved as an AHC volunteer, please visit our website: http://angkorhospital.org/support/volunteer/

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