Secret Lives of OhioHealth
Helping Children in Southeast Asia
When Sherrod Fields, RN, BSN, administrative nurse manager for OhioHealth Home Health, isn't coordinating care for the sick and elderly in central Ohio, he's bringing hope to orphaned children living on the other side of the world.
For the past 15 years, Fields has led a double life as a volunteer for Asia's Hope. The Columbus-based organization rescues abandoned and homeless children in Cambodia, Thailand and India, placing them in family-style children's homes staffed by local parents and funded by donors in the United States.
As a member of the Asia's Hope board, Fields supports the organization's work from America, communicating with partners and facilitating fundraising efforts. He's also travelled to Southeast Asia more than a dozen times to provide medical care and other support to the children, as well as on-the-ground logistical assistance.
"Before coming to Asia's Hope, these kids don't have parents, and they certainly don't have any opportunity. They don't get to go to school. We're talking kids who are at high risk of sex trafficking and economic slavery," Fields said. "Our goal is to find these high-risk children and give them opportunities."
Fields began volunteering for Asia's Hope in 2005 when he accepted an invitation to participate in a medical mission to Cambodia from a family acquaintance involved in the organization. At the time, Fields knew nothing about the country.
When he arrived, he was shocked by the widespread poverty, corruption, lack of infrastructure and lasting trauma inflicted by the Khmer Rouge regime that ruled the country in the late 1970s. He'd never seen children living in such devastation, and so many people without access to food and medical care. At the same time, he was amazed at the kindness of the Cambodian people and how grateful they were to receive even a simple Band-Aid.
"It changed my perspective on the way I view the world," Fields said. "To go into other countries and cultures where resources are so limited, finances are limited, and not just a little bit, widespread … I felt compelled to say 'what can I do?' even if it doesn't feel like much. That's been my motivation ever since."
Fields returned to Cambodia and began leading teams of medical volunteers, teachers and students. They did health and wellness checks for the children living in Asia's Hope children's homes, taught in schools and helped with infrastructure projects.
Gradually, the organization expanded to Thailand and India, and began partnering with local doctors and hospitals to provide medical care. Fields still travels to the region, but is now more focused on supporting the organization's work in the U.S.
On a recent trip, Fields met two children he'd immunized the first time he went to Cambodia. One is now grown and in college. Another is married with his own children, and works at one of the children's homes. He's able to support himself and his family.
"Those success stories are incredible," Fields said. "That's what keeps me doing this. It's making a difference, it's changing lives."
If you'd like to find out more about Asia's Hope, go to asiashope.org or follow them on Facebook at @asiashope.
This story was originally published in an internal OhioHealth associate publication.
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