“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
When friends and family ask me why Jimmy return for a second time to Vietnam, he doesn’t think they’d understand. A second round in sweltering heat, intermittent electricity, lack of toiletries, and many other inconveniences that we take for granted. It’s a matter of gaining perspective, a moment for internal reflection, a chance to harness the calm in the storm and see the world in a different light.
We see a world where healthcare is a privilege. Where children less than 12 years old travel kilometers on bike or foot just to receive basic primary care. These kids would travel through dirt roads, ditches sewn with trash, sweltering heat of 90 degrees in jungle humidity in their best outfits just for a simple cough, malnutrition, or a warm embrace. They come with a smile on their face, happy to see healthcare finally reach their remote villages.
When Jimmy had a moment to sit down and talk to some of the kids, he came to realize how versatile dreams differ. As Jimmy was telling a fellow colleague on the trip (Jenny), in the US, we dream of the stars and shoot for the moon. These kids just dream of waking up and walking step by step on the dirt in front of them. Our young aspire to be doctors, nurses, rocket scientists, etc. While they dream just of hard lives on the rice farms, selling coconuts and fruits, or just waking up the next day. We don’t know how to inspire them to greatness. We hope that one day, one of these kids aspire to shoot for the stars and reach it. Then we could finally say, in this meager world we made a difference.
The children are very smart. They are some of the hardest working people Jimmy met. They hustle and are eager to learn western processes. They are willing to grind out a day of work in the heat, and won’t take lunch until the rest of the team does. I had the privilege of working with 5 of Can Tho’s University of Medicine and Pharmacy students. They were eager to learn and we were eager to teach. We showed them patient education/consultation. After one afternoon, they were able to deliver that on their own. We introduced them to workflow and they jumped right in the mix of it. We asked them to complete task A, B, C, and they executed without one complaint. We were able to learn from our mistakes from the previous year. We were able to execute a process and teach future VN pharmacists that will hopefully carry the torch towards VN’s future.
Project Vietnam Foundation (PVNF) brought a team of 5 pharmacists this year. By the second day, we were comfortable considering the Can Tho students as fellow colleagues and nearly doubling our staff. They helped with consultations and translations. They filled and verified under our supervision. We were able to implement a secondary pediatric pharmacy with their help. I’d like to give a shout out to our team that made life so much easier this year. Cheers to Thuong, Jenny Thai, Anh-Thu, Jim Notaro, Doug, Phuoc (?), Hao, Hong Mai, and her fellow Can Tho students for their contributions.
For more information on the medical mission. Please visit http://www.projectvietnam.org