We wake up and get breakfast for ourselves. Some of us order from the hotel, while others venture down Le Thanh Ton street to buy freshly prepared goods from a bakery down the street. We're tired from the day before, but nothing can quell our excitement for the day ahead!
We left for the same orphanage/school that we went to the day before. As we cruised down our street, we stopped by the bakery to pick up some lunch for later. After that, we went to pick up the doctors, but we also wanted to pick up some ChocoPies for the kids (which was their favorite treat!), so we parked near the doctor's home and went shopping around the nearby streets. It was supposed to be the kids' graduation day, and we wanted to bring them something special.
We started by visiting some street-side shops, but the ChocoPies were more expensive than we'd expected. The doctor led us to a supermarket nearby (we had to check our backpacks in first) to do some shopping. The ChocoPies were even more expensive at the supermarket than on the street! Still, some of us bought chocolate and other candy for the kids.
We set up our medical stations quickly, the same way as the day before. The line of children progressed quicker this time because we had two doctors instead of just one.
It was so rewarding to work with these kids. The hardest part that we anticipated was the non-Vietnamese speakers communicating with the patients. But because most of them were deaf and mute, all of us were on equal footing in terms of communicating with the children. Although most of us knew little sign language, we learned just enough to help us get by! It felt wonderful to be able to say things to them, and have them answer back.
Stephanie, Norris, Minh-Thanh, Evangeline, Christian, and Sanjeev tried perfecting taking blood pressures. Thuy and Kristie helped weigh the kids and write their names, and Megan had so much fun asking the kids in sign language how old they were! Kelly, Jennifer, and some of the other girls helped teach the kids how to eat their gummy-vites, and it was adorable! The kids were too precious!
After a hot morning, we sat down for some lunch on the school steps. We ate sandwiches that we had bought from the bakery on Le Thanh Ton near our hotel. Some kids wandered over to watch us eat, and we took some group photos with them.
All of us were parched because it was so hot, and we didn't have enough water to go around. Because we had a lot of time to spare (the children were still eating lunch), we decided to explore the area and buy some water.
We wandered down a dirt road, talking and laughing on our afternoon adventure. The first shop we came upon wouldn't bargain with us, so we decided to try farther down the street. It was good that we did because the lady who owned the second shop we came to was absolutely wonderful!
She gave us a discount for our water and let us all sit in her shop to talk. She pulled up chairs so that we could all fit under the shade of her store, and we talked and joked as we relaxed. At one point, we went around the circle and each person said what kind of a doctor he/she wanted to be. We heard internal medicine, surgeon, OB/GYN, plastics - and of course Y-Nhy wanted a joint MD/PhD - figures! Hehe!
The lady who owned the shop offered a basket full of this really funny fruit (can't remember what it's called - anyone?). The inside resembled a lychee, but the out side was reddish-brown and had soft spines like a porcupine. We tried to pay her for them, but she wouldn't take the money. She was so nice! Her husband seemed really nice too - he was sitting on the threshold of their house, holding their adorable little baby boy. Finally, right before we left, Stephanie ended up hiding the money in the fruit basket. The lady tried to bag the fruit for us to take on our way babck, but we ran away before she could give it to us. Her kindness really touched all of us.
We got back to the school and did some more of the same medical work. Each of us took turns at each station, and some of us played with the kids who were waiting in line.
It was adorable watching Amos play with the kids - he's so good with them. They all loved him to pieces and treated him like a celebrity. It was so cute! They were amazed at his biceps, and they would have him flex so they could touch it, and they had fun hanging off his arms.
Before we left, we dropped off some clothing donations for them. Some people also bought artwork from them.
On the way back, we stopped at another pharmacy to get prescription medicine with a doctor. It took a really long time, but all of us were optimistic, because we were going to be working with the doctor the next day at a rural clinic, and all of us were looking forward to that.
One of the biggest problems was that we were told we weren't allowed to give out medicine, and that we couldn't get any doctors to work with us for fear of the communist government. This was very stressing. Also, a lot of the places we could visit wanted "goody bags" filled with noodles, sugar, MSG, and condensed milk instead of receiving medical care. This really surprised us, and we didn't know how to resolve this problem. Sure, we still had money in our account, but it was money that had been donated for medicine.
In the end, we decided to fill up our free day the next day by going shopping for goody bag fillers. We divided up into groups and were given different locations to scout for prices of various food items.
By the end of the meeting, a lot of us were really pooped out, but others were pumped for a night out.