Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hepatitis B Shots & Foot Shuttlecocks

On Wednesday, we woke up to the ringing phone announcing that we would soon be leaving for the Quang Loi province to assist in the administration of about a hundred hepatitis B vaccinations. Our destination was an hour from our hotel through several miles of rural countryside--we were there before we knew it. We weren't allowed to administer vaccinations, but we were prepared to calm down crying children--after all, eight year-olds in the U.S. are--let's be honest--wimps. We soon found that we were unnecessary. These kids were troopers.

A girl braving through her hepatitis B shot

With 100 vaccinations funded, 87 children were seen at the clinic on Wednesday; 13 were too sick to be seen. Of the 87, three of these eight year-olds were diagnosed with hepatitis B. One of these three was a kid we had been playing "đá cầu" (a shuttlecock kicking game) with just minutes earlier. Although it came as a shock to us, it was rewarding to see all of the fundraising go to a legitimate and worthy end because we were told that a majority of these children would have contracted hepatitis B at some point in their lives otherwise. As the hepatitis B vaccination is a three-step process, we were assured that these students would be returning in the next six months to receive their follow-ups.

And even though many had just received their immunizations, they had plenty of energy left to play a game of đá cầu with us, in which they pretty much kicked our butts. It got so intense that even the government official observing us decided to jump in and help us out.

VMO members sporting a game of shuttlecock with the kids

The whole experience was definitely one to remember.

-Ryan Quan
3rd year UC Berkeley student

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