Exactly 30 years ago, Zurich paediatrician Dr Beat Richner packed his suitcase to answer the request of the King of Cambodia. King Norodom Sihanouk had asked him to renovate the war-ravaged Kantha Bopha children's hospital in Phnom Penh and put it back into operation. What the paediatrician set out to do at the time was considered by many development experts to be a hopeless undertaking. The state of Cambodia was broke, the political situation was uncertain, the Khmer Rouge reign of terror had killed practically all paediatricians.
Dr Beat Richner was convinced of his plan. In tireless efforts, overcoming numerous obstacles and thanks to many large and small donations from Switzerland, Dr. Richner, together with his deputy and successor Dr. Peter Studer and an enthusiastic Cambodian staff, achieved what many thought was impossible: Today, there are five children's hospitals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, which have already operated on, cared for and vaccinated several million children. According to experts, Richner's work is the best and most sustainable medical aid project they had ever seen.
Dr Richner, who passed away in September 2018 (Dr Studer passed away in May 2020), strictly prescribed and followed several principles in his work: All children should be cared free of charge, the medical facilities should be of the highest standard, and the many donors who made the construction and operation of the hospitals possible are informed transparently.
In this anniversary year, information is therefore also in the foreground: The Board of the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospitals, for example, has planned several events that are entirely dedicated to the work of Dr. Richner and his staff.
On Thursday, 31 March 2022, the vernissage of a photo exhibition showing the life and work of Dr Richner will take place at the Kulturhaus Helferei Zurich, behind the Grossmünster (6 pm, doors open from 5 pm). After a short film, the young cellist Selma Aerni will play on Dr. Richner's cello, and the Foundation Council will provide information on the current situation in the hospitals. Afterwards, an aperitif will be offered. You are very welcome to attend.
In keeping with tradition, the gala performance at Circus Knie will take place again this year. We look forward to welcoming you on 10 May 2022 at Circus Knie on Sechseläutenplatz in Zurich. Detailed information on this event will follow.
More information about other anniversary events will be provided in due course.
Every franc helps to heal, save and prevent.
Dr. iur. René Schwarzenbach, President,
Prof. Dr. med. Michael Grotzer, Vice President
Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital Foundation, Beat Richner, MD,
PC 80-60699.1, IBAN No. CH98 0900 00008006 0699 1
Zurich/Phnom Penh, February 2022