Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chaos at Church

We all met downstairs at 7:30 AM

Before we left Saigon, we stopped by the sandwich shop down the street to pick up some lunch for ourselves. JTran and Y-Nhy joined our group as we all waited in line to buy our sandwiches.

We all scurried back onto the bus again, and headed toward the church that we were going to be working at.

We wet up some tables under a nicely shaded area. We had a table for blood pressure measuring, one for the doctor, and a third one for our little pharmacy. There were a lot of people sitting around on the benches waiting for us to start. All of us were so pumped!

Lisa and the priest left to buy more medicine, according to what the doctor ordered. We decided not to wait around for them to come back, but to start doing what we could. We tore sheets of notebook paper for everyone, and the people who could speak Vietnamese went around and took down people's name and ages.

We gave out numbers to our patients, and started measuring their blood pressures in that order. After that, they were ushered into line to wait to see the doctor, who prescribed medications, if needed, to them.

There was a patient who had bumps all over his body. It looked like some kind of neurofibromatosis. One of his eyes had a tumor/flap over it. We didn't know what it was, but Megan had seen a program on the health channel where there were some people in Indonesia who also had these skin deformities who could not make a living and were forced to work in a circus together. It was really sad to actually see someone like this.

The old man was holding this absolutely adorable little boy in his arms - probably his grandson. One of the greatest things about working with these patients was seeing how closely knit their families were. In the US, people are more independent, and when kids become adults, they move away and hardly see their families at all. Here, it was like they all lived with each other, and grandparents helped raise their grandchildren. Siblings took care of each other - I saw really young children holding babies. They seemed so much more mature than their counterparts in America. There was a sense of community there that is hardly seen back in the US.

There were several hundred patients, so it was extremely exhausting, but we finished pretty early in the day and headed home.

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