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.
“This trip was an intensely emotional one……… it was like being on a roller-coaster. The “highs” of seeing the beautiful, healthy, happy children playing at one of the orphanages and the “lows” of seeing otherwise beautiful children restrained in their beds, fed lying flat on their backs, with no play area or other stimulation………. at the shelter. I wasn’t sure I would be able to ever return to the shelter. It took quite a while for me to get over my anger, but then I realized that was not helpful either; it wasn’t that the people in charge of the shelter were evil, but they had a grossly inadequate number of caretakers and lacked the resources and training to provide what these kids needed both physically and emotionally………” Janice Smith, MD