When my wife told me she was trying to help our neighbour Holly raise money for a group of nurses to travel to Cambodia to perform life-saving open-heart surgery I asked how they were doing it. Walking 20km? Easy I said – I’ve been walking 36 years it’s easy. Well the team from Open Heart International are back from Cambodia and the stories they have to share will make me want to walk it all over again, and raise even more money.

I joked, 20km is nothing, I “trained” a bit, walking 10-15 km’s once a week in preparation. In the end it was a tough walk but not something I couldn’t or wouldn’t do again.

Now imagine you’re an 11 year old boy, and you’re so sick you can’t go to school or play your favourite sport – soccer. You’re waiting five years, five years of no school, no soccer – with the wonders of modern medicine it just shouldn’t happen.

Hot off the plan comes the surgical team from Open Heart International. In just five days they performed 15 Open Heart surgeries.

The charity walk I took part in raised an amazing $32,000, and that went toward four surgeries on this trip and will do four more in March 2014.

What an inspiration these children are, and equally the medical team who give of their time to make this happen – it’s truly life changing for these kids.

2 year old Khana

2 year old Khana

This is the youngest of them all, 2 year old Khana. According to the nurses it seems Lollipops and party blowers are amazing distractions even in these circumstances!

11 year old Maneth

11 year old Maneth

11 year old, Maneth, pictured above before her operation, yet still all smiles post operatively despite the pain of physiotherapy. She spoke no English however the language barrier doesn’t stop the rapport between the nursing team and the patients. Only 2 days after her operation she came outside and played frisbie with us – the movement enormously beneficial to her recovery.

2 Year old Doeun

3 Year old Doeun

Little Miss Determined. Sick since birth, 3yo Doeun was clearly sick of being sick. Complicated post-operatively by a collapsed lung due to a near-drowning experience 2 weeks prior to surgery (that the surgical team we were not aware of prior to her operation), her determination to recover was relentless. 3 days after her operation she was off oxygen and remarkably, she was discharged from hospital a day later, running from the front door!

11 year old Bunsuon

11 year old Bunsuon

With Bunsuon’s charm and good nature he stole the hearts of the entire surgical team. He successfully had the hole between his L) and R) ventricles patched to enable the blood flow to go in the correct direction. And with this he should be back at school and playing soccer within no time.

If those stories don’t give you hope, and at the same time bring a tear to your eye, you’re not human. Remarkable stuff from the entire team who travelled to Cambodia, and the support team who made the fundraising possible.

When do we walk and where to to raise more money?