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November 1980

'Teach a Man to Fish' (Chinese Proverb)

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics University of Massachusetts Medical School 55 Lake Ave, N Worcester, MA 01605

Am J Dis Child. 1980;134(11):1025-1027. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1980.02130230005002

A number of commentaries have been published by physicians who have worked with Cambodian refugees. The dimensions of that human tragedy, sensationally, if tardily, emblazoned into our consciousness by the press last fall, elicited a remarkable and heartening response from the world community, a response that greatly alleviated the impact of the massive, acute starvation. Medical personnel from many countries participated in this effort. I was part of a team of two physicians and three nurses, sponsored by the American Baptist Convention, which served in Kamput, a small camp in southeast Thailand. Following are a few personal reflections on this uniquely moving experience.

We arrived in Kamput in early January 1980 after the horrendous death rate due to acute starvation had abated. Some sequelae of malnutrition persisted among the Khmer Rouge who populated Kamput, but its most devastating impact was apparent only when the "population pyramid" of the survivors