INTERVIEW: Khim Malis, a first-aider from the St. John Phnom Penh Corps

Most Cambodians are not aware of proper first-aid in an emergency, having received little of no training. Some “first-aid” given may even make the situation worse. Most first-aiders were trained in the military, by big corporations, or an NGO. But for the most part, where the need is greatest—among regular community people, urban and rural—there is little access to training in life-saving first-aid techniques for accidents, fires, drowning, or poisoning.

Although willing to help, people hestitate to do so, because they don’t possess first-aid skills or they feel they are not a first-aider. Many simply assume that if an accident happens, the correct thing to do to help is to get the patient to a clinic or hospital.

The St. John Phnom Penh Corps (Saint John Phnom Penh Corps) is a voluntary organization that provides first-aid training and first-aid coverage at large public events. ​And their presence has enticed many young Cambodians to join them, even whole communities. And Light Times met with one such volunteer, 23-year-old Khim Malis, from Kampong Cham province, a student at the University of Health Sciences in Phnom Penh.

LT: Please share your how you came to join the
St. John Phnom Penh Corps?

Malis: I’m studying part-time with the Community Hope Aids organization and I’m a youth leader in my church. My mother is a pastor, and my dad is her assistant in a church in Kampong Cham province.
I was introduced to the St. John organization in 2016. I see it as great opportunity, something that I’d prayed for was to become a first-aider. I joined to improve my first-aid skills, so that I’m not only able to help myself but other people when they have the accident. More importantly, I’m also able to provide training to the community. It is a good work, because God calls us to serve Him through serving people.

LT: What is it about St. John that keeps you connected and actively involved day to day?

Malis: Even though I’m a nursing student (before joining St John), I have done very little first-aid training. So one day I just asked myself "What if something happens and I don’t have the necessary skills? How can I help myself or somebody in need of help?" I prayed about it. Then I heard about St. John from someone at church. I thanked God for answering my prayer and had promptly joined their training program. Now I can help both myself and anyone in need of help. Then I became a trainer. I’ve attended many big events like soccer games.

LT: Outside of the first-aid skills, what do you see in
St. John?

Malis: What convicted me to join the St. John was that in serving needy people and saving lives, we serve God. It’s what He loves us to do—to love others. The members of
St .John all have the heart of helping and with love they serve people. St. John is a Christian Order, but not all its members are Christians, and of those who are, they are of different faiths. We can learn from each other. Some are doctors, some are nurses, and some also from other fields besides the medical field. Together, we serve our society.

LT: What is the one uniqueness of St. John?

Malis: St. John understood the need of first-aid skill among general people in the community; we go to the grass roots of the community by providing first-aid training, which I think no other organization is doing it. When people haven’t been instructed they don’t really know it is important, but when they are trained they see how important it really is. We train them in the knowledge of first-aid—helping themselves—and also train them be trainers in their community.

LT: What are the limitations—the challenges—when providing first-aid training to a community?

Malis: Yes, it can be a challenge. But we provide training in simple language and contextualize it in a simple way, using only resources available in that community that would exist in an emergency need. The common accidents are drowning, burns, broken bones and cuts, and bites by poisonous snakes and insects. All of these accidents the community people must provide for—with the proper first-aid—before the patient arrives at a hospital.

LT: Reflecting of yourself, what is the motivation of your family for the expense for training with St. John?

Malis: My mum always says, “ I love what you are doing and I’m so happy to see my daughter is so courageous in this.” The uniform of St. John that I wear surprises many, especially my parents. First of all, I have been motivated by them; I was educated to love others, and I think it’s abundant in my life that I’m living to love and help others. I love it because I like to help others. I know that because we are a Christian family, we have Christian ideals like St. John, so we can serve Him through it and helping the other people.
I want to tell young people to use their time carefully, as how you do so will affect your tomorrow. Join St. John as a volunteer; you will not only gain invaluable experiences but it will strengthen you through the heart of helping.

LT: To end, share something of your faith in Jesus?

Malis: I came to believe in Jesus back in 2000, as a six-year-old. My parents and siblings are all Christian. I believe in Jesus, because He is the one true God, the Creator of heaven and earth and humankind. We all have sinned, and because of that our relationship with God had been broken. Because of His love for us, Jesus came and died on the cross, and three days later rose again, to save us from sin allowing us to rebuild our relationship with God.

My parents and I have experienced this salvation, and because of His grace we live in hope of a great future and a transformed life now. So daily we trust in Jesus, and because of that He shows us some miraculous things. When we pray we know He hears us and will answer our prayers. Before I took the step of volunteering with the St. Johns, I prayed a lot and finally God answered my prayers and opened the door for St John to come to Cambodia to help us better to serve people through first-aid, something which is a very relevant need in our people’s lives. (The Light Times Magazine)


PUBLISHED: 19.03.2020

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