In 2007, Mrs Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Swiss Confederation, visited the Kantha Bopha hospitals in Cambodia and the King Norodom Sihamoni, paid an official visit to Switzerland to salute the country which largely finances this hospital system, which Cambodia can no longer do without. These two current events served as the common thread running through the film’s narrative.
Using 100 hours of footage gathered over 11 years of regular filming, Georges Gachot tells the 15 years long story of this cellist doctor and hospital builder. In this time, Richner builds four hospitals and one clinic for HIV positive mothers in which over 7.2 million children have been treated. For the children of Cambodia, Beat Richner’s hospitals where a substitute for the failing health service.
Gachot’s central protagonist is the famous Swiss doctor Beat Richner who has done so much for children in Cambodia. In 1975, the young pediatrician was working in a children’s hospital in Phnom Penh, but had to leave the country due to the invasion of the Red Khmer army. He returns in 1991 and discovers that the country’s children are suffering due to a catastrophic health system.