There are some people that leave an incredible mark on this world, some people that dedicate their lives to the wellbeing of others, some people that touch the lives of everyone they come into contact with. Today one of those people is Beat Richner.
You may have heard of him, you may have not. Either way you will be touched by his story. The Cello playing Paediatrician from Zurich Switzerland, whose passion and dedication in the past 24 years has helped to save the lives of over 1.6 million seriously ill children in Cambodia.
In 1991, Dr. Richner came to Cambodia for the second time to assist in rebuilding the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital, which had been destroyed during the war of the Khmer Rouge. He left his life in Switzerland and dedicated it to the reconstruction and management of the hospital, which would go on to provide urgent medical assistance to over 300 sick children per day. Since the first hospital opened in 1991, with the support of private donors from around the world, Dr. Richner has assisted with the development of 4 more hospitals throughout Cambodia, which today still provide free access to crucial healthcare for Cambodia’s most vulnerable.
These days you will find Dr. Richner performing a Cello concert every Saturday evening in the Jayavaraman VII Children’s Hospital Concert Hall in Siem Reap. He dedicates this time and beautiful Cello skills to tourists as a way to generate donations that will go towards the hospital’s expenses and continue to help the people of Cambodia. Here are a few reasons why it’s an experience not to be missed.
You help the children of Cambodia
The main reason that Dr. Richner performs his concert every Saturday is really for the children. The hospital’s annual budget is over 43 million dollars (US), which includes salaries for over 2500 staff and medical care for over 300,000 children. It’s hard to believe that 85% of that budget comes from private donations and only 15% from government organisations, but sadly this is the case. That is why every donation you make counts and goes towards helping a child in Cambodia receive the health care they need.
You learn about Cambodia’s past and present
Having lived in Cambodia for the past 23 years, Dr. Richner has quite the knowledge about Cambodia’s past and present. You won’t just get Cello show but also a knowledgeable insight into Cambodia’s current political and social complexities, especially in the health division. Although remaining ‘politically correct’, Dr. Richner touches on some important aspects of Cambodia’s (and the world’s) health policies that leave us very much apprehensive and perplexed.
You get a humorous performance
Having been quite the musical comedian in his time, Dr. Richner will be sure to put on a show full of witty remarks and comedic behaviour. Speaking a variety of languages including Swiss, German, French and English, and with considerable knowledge of world politics, be prepared to get picked out of the crowd for some innocuous humour.
You hear the sweet sounds of the Cello
Dr. Richner goes by the stage name of Beatocello, which comes from the combination of his first name and his favourite instrument, the Italian Cello. Having played the Cello for most of his adult life he is quite the performer and will put on a beautiful show of bittersweet, soulful music to your ears and to your heart, telling the story of the people of Cambodia through each of his performances.
If you are in Siem Reap on a Saturday night I highly recommended heading over to the concert. It runs every Saturday from 7:15pm to 9:10pm and the entrance is free, however donations are always needed. It really is an inspiring story and one that gives you an understanding of the hardships that Cambodia have faced in the past and still face today. It also gives you hope for the future and allows you to contribute to such a meaningful cause. As Dr. Richner said, “Our hospitals are an island of justice and peace in Cambodia”, and his hope is to spread that justice and peace throughout all other parts of the country. That is our hope as well.