Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Wednesday 21 October 2009

Doctor Beat 'Beatocello' Richner

President Obama has recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.
The committee have made the award on the basis of the President's plans to improve world safety through his foreign policies.

I have written to the President this week to suggest that he might like to contribute some of his prize money (1.4 million dollars) to a man who has a proven record of saving lives over a 35 year period. I refer to a Swiss man who I first came across in a visit to Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat temples.
Doctor Beat Richner, by his selfless devotion to the country and people of Cambodia is a hero. He has devoted almost his own life to help the people of this war ravaged country. He has succeeded in spite of the negative attitude of such as the WHO, World Health Organization and the Save the Children Fund.
The Kantha Bopha Foundation, he set up, has built and run hospitals in this desperately poor country, treating, from 1993 to 2008, 8.2 million outpatients free of charge. Furthermore, they treated 650,000 in patients and conducted more than 90,000 surgical operations.
550'000 children would not have survived without those hospitals.

I have never met the Doctor and wouldn't even have known about him but for his concerts in Siem Reap.
We were told of the concert as soon as we reached our hotel and having no other commitments after visiting the magnificent temple complex, my wife and I went. We thought it was a cello recital. The first clue that it wasn't a normal concert came when we took our seats in what appeared to be a hospital lecture hall.
It was a weekend; the good doctor only holds his concerts on a Friday and Saturday; probably the best days to fill his hall with tourists.
At the appointed hour he enters, a slightly plump man, thinning on top, holding his cello. He introduces himself, using his stage name 'Beatocello'.
The concert, music mainly by his favourite, Bach, is interspersed with a talk on the medical situation in Cambodia. The presentation includes a slide show which traces the sad history of this country, right up to today, including the effects of the American war in Vietnam and the murderous regime of Pol Pot. During this time, doctor Richner had to leave the country. At the time of his leaving there were in excess of 500 doctors and surgeons in Cambodia. By the time Pol Pot was overturned there were barely forty left. The savage dictator had killed them all in his bid to eliminate the intelligentsia.
One of the biggest problems Dr. Richner faced was HIV, particularly the transmission of the disease from mother to unborn child. One of the biggest causes of HIV in the country was the American GIs use of prostitutes in Phnom Phen, during the Vietnam conflict. Doctor Richner, himself a pediatrician, and his team have pioneered techniques which have drastically reduced the transmission rates.
Despite all this good work, he has struggled to secure funding for expanding his work outside the capital and Siem Reap. The WHO and Save the Children fund felt that the money could be better spent elsewhere. So, Doctor Richner and his cello began their concerts. During the talk he asks the older visitors for money, the younger ones for blood and the in betweens for both.

It is almost impossible not to be moved by the Doctor's humanity. After seeing him I was inspired to write my first novel 'Apsaras', introducing a ficticious character who after seeing Beat Richner also decided to do good works. I wish I could do more to help him with his endeavours, having to make do with bringing his name to the attention of as many people as possible. When you see daily in the newspapers reports of people, so evil it is almost impossible to find the right word to describe them, it is uplifting to hear of a human being that puts others first and epitomizes the ability of humankind to do good.

For more information on Doctor Beat Richner, either Google his name or go to his web site at:

Kevill Davies, author of 'Apsaras'. Available from online book stores.

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