After one semester of hard work and 17 hours of flight later, the Volunteers for Medical Outreach team finally arrived in Saigon ready to help the impoverished population of Vietnam. The taxi van took our group to Hoang Hai Long 1 Hotel. We spent the first day wandering the crowded streets of Saigon, tasting its delicious food, and breathing its humid air. Our day ended with one of the heaviest rains I have ever seen in Saigon. People say rain is good luck, so hopefully this trip will be very successful.
This morning our team met with the ACWP representatives in Southern Vietnam for an orientation. Dr. Hương went over the schedule for our mobile clinics (MBCs) in Đồng Tháp and Bến Tre provinces. There was a suggestion to have coloring station for children to play while waiting for their turns. Dr. Hương explained that families in these areas are very poor, coloring would be luxurious to the children so they would really value it very much. Upon hearing this, our team and another friend, Bao, gladly donated some money to make this a reality. After the meeting, we gave Dr. Hương the surgical materials and toothbrushes that we brought from the US; these donations will be used for the mobile clinics in Southern Vietnam later.
|Saigon orientation (Donna missing)|
In the afternoon, we headed for Hue city. Our flight was delayed because of heavy rain. While waiting, Thai decided that it would be a good idea for each person to interview and write a bio of another person in the group. We haven’t done something like that before. It would be a really good way for everyone to bond with each other. I’m looking forward to reading all the bio’s. This should be interesting.
|Donna finally arrived in Saigon|
When we arrived to Hue, it was late evening. The ACWP staff organized a welcome dinner for the volunteers at B.L.O.O.M restaurant. We also went over the schedule for what the group will be doing in Hue. Tomorrow we are going to visit a school in Hong Tien, and then drive to Thang Binh to celebrate a new school opening. Also, there will be 2 MBCs and 1 Hepatitis B vaccination clinic with ACWP in the outskirt of Hue city. The places where we will be volunteering are considered as the poorest regions in the Thua Thien Hue Province. Additionally, VMO will also be working with FHF (Friends of Hue) while we are in Hue. I’m looking forward to have our meeting with them as well.
|In from of Bloom Restaurant in Hue|
After the two meetings today, I anticipate a very successful trip this year. There are so many things to look forwards to. Even though not all of us speak the language, not all of us have experiences doing medical outreach, but we have a really supportive group of staff from our partner organizations that would have us making this trip a success.
-- submitted by Diep Tang, VMO lead/recent grad, UC Berkeley