Vietnam Mission Trips
In the summer of 2015, Dr. Tram Nguyen embarked on a critical step in her lifetime dream to return to her homeland as a physician, ready to learn how she could make an impact on the lives of the poor and underserved of Vietnam. This first trip was an exploratory trip, in which she and 2 other physicians, along with 2 volunteer translators, visited a number of facilities and rural villages in southern Vietnam. It was definitely a learning experience, filled with adventure, missteps, heartbreak, tears, laughter and great joy.
During that trip, approximately 750 patients in rural villages received medical care, and the team visited an orphanage, a nursing home for women, and a shelter for mentally and physically disabled adults and children. During those visits, needs were assessed and plans made to try and help those facilities meet some of their more pressing needs. Friendships were made, hearts were deeply touched, and Tram returned to the states more determined than ever to make her dream come true.
After a year of intensive organizing, planning and fundraising, a team of 20 volunteer physicians, dentists, therapists, pharmacists, translators and other volunteers traveled to southern Vietnam. Approximately 1200 patients received medical and dental care in a variety of settings, including the orphanages, nursing home, and shelter that Tram had identified on her 2015 visit. The therapy team concentrated their efforts in the St. Francis Shelter for disabled children and adults, where the need for training of the workers and activities for the residents were the greatest.
“If given the opportunity to reflect on your own life, most would want to be remembered for making a difference in someone else’s life. Hand in Hand opened my eyes to see and experience the Corporal Works of Mercy in action (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting the sick, etc.). We were humbled to work closely alongside people who were not given the same blessings to grow and live like we are accustomed to. The work was transformative, not only helping the patients but also deeply touching our own hearts. We can't wait to go back!” - Phillip and Trang Conley
Encouraged by the progress they had made at the St. Francis Shelter, and the increasing openness of the facility to improve the conditions and opportunities for the residents there, a six man team returned in February of 2017. During that trip, a play room was created with educational toys so the children could have less time spent restrained in their beds, and an exercise room with equipment was set up to help with the rehabilitation of the disabled adults. Advanced training was provided for the facility’s staff.
”I vividly remember that during the first visit to the St. Francis Shelter a staff member remarked that it was rare, if ever, that mission teams returned. Perhaps this is because living conditions for the residents at this shelter are especially poor and resources are scarce. Children are confined to their beds, often with restraints. In contrast to others who may have wanted to distance themselves from such sorrow we decided to return as soon as possible because we knew there was more we could do, we knew what to do and we felt called to serve.” - Gretchen Stone (OT)
Hand-in-Hand had the privilege of hosting our first local mission this year where we saw over 550 patients in the span of 8 hours!
To learn more about what we did, please watch the VietFace features.