Monday, January 29, 2007

Trip Report from Pham Van Nam

l have worked in two Project Vietnam medical missions, to Hai Duong and to Vinh.
l really love Project Vietnam because the
people in the project are very friendly and very easy
going, every time l made a lot of good friends and I
have a chance to work with children. Before l joined
the project l didn't know that l love children and l love
playing with them. They are so cute to me.
This time we went to Vinh by an impressive sleeper
overnight train. There were six very narrow
beds in the rooms. l couldn`t sleep all
that night because the train stopped and pulled the horn
in every station. Finally l just dozed but the train
suddenly stopped again when it arrived in Vinh, so l had
to wake up and clean up to leave, even i was very tired and
very sleepy. Then we get on the buses and came to Kim
Lien Hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, I had to line up for the key
because we have a lot of people. Finally l got the key and
I went to the room and without knowing my roommate
l leaped on the bed and fell asleep. l was fast asleep
from 7 am until 3 pm then l take a walked around Vinh with
some friends l know from project.
Then the next day we went to school to work at 7AM.
We came to school at the time the children are studying
so i l walked around the classes to say hi to them and
then we prepared to work. l worked with the survey so l
had to ask a lot of questions like what kind of food
do you eat and what do you drink? This work made my throat very dry but
l was very happy to do it. To work with children, it makes
me feel very happy and when we have a break from work, we play with
them. It's amazing that all of kids like me, and the
other volunteers are very funny and kind. They love to play
with the kids too. After six days
working around the schools in Vinh we came back to Hanoi.
Some of the volunteers went for holiday then. On the next
day we had a goodbye dinner at a very very nice
restaurant. It was very very happy then because we
could see each other again, and very very sad then because
after that we will say goodbye. After dinner we said
goodbye to some people and some people including me
went out antil 2 AM, then we said goodbye and then l
went home and took a long sleep again.

I am looking forward to working with everyone again in March when we travel to the Mekong Delta.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

return to Hoa Binh

Project Vietnam volunteer Pham Van Nam and I recently visited our friend Ha Minh Quan in rural Hoa Binh Province. He's the young man with the deteriorating eyesight, the result of undetected and untreated rheumatoid arthritis. His condition has gotten worse, and his eyesight is now severely limited. The weather in Hoa Binh last week was very cold, in the low fifties and very humid. Quan had no shoes, socks, or gloves to warm his cold and aching extremities. We bought him a few things, of course, but his family's long-term prospects are bleak indeed. Quan's mother never asks for anything, but always gratefully and graciously accepts the small amount of money we periodically provide. She always uses the money carefully, and recently bought a partial share in a water buffalo which lives next to their home! This is not a case of simply throwing cash at a problem, Quan's mother uses the money wisely and never expects a "handout." As we make preparations for our next Medical Mission, we should keep Quan in mind. Anyone visiting the Hanoi area who would like to make the journey to visit Quan, please let me know and we'll make the arrangements! The family (and the local Muong kids) are always happy to see visitors.

The pictures attached here show Nam with Quan; the road leading to Quan's house; the house itself; the new water buffalo; and the local kids who were quite excited to see a foreigner. We taught them how to play "Simon Says!"

Jim Brennan

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Tale of Two Kids: Ha and Quan

The first Project Vietnam Medical Mission to Hoa Binh was completed in 2001, and the experience was so successful that a follow-up mission was provided in 2002. That second mission was marked by the tragic loss of Surgery Team member Dr. John O'Connor.

One of the children receiving free surgery in 2001 was a 10-year old boy named Ha, who returned to his rural home with a repaired cleft lip and was soon offered a position in a class for advanced students. Ha's family could not afford the extra educational expense, so Project Vietnam provided funds for Ha's schooling. We've been supporting Ha and his family ever since, and this year we also provided Ha with further cosmetic surgery in Hanoi, performed by Dr. Ke, a member of the team that operated on Ha in 2001. Ha is doing extremely well and is planning to attend a University in Hanoi when he finishes high school.

We met another child in Hoa Binh during that time, and his story did not turn out so well. Quan is a teenager who has lost most of his eyesight due to complications from untreated rheumatoid arthritis. Project Vietnam eye surgeons examined Quan thoroughly, but were unable to offer a solution as the disease had progressed too far. Quan lives in a dirt-floor home with his mother and father, who had a stroke a few years ago and is unable to contribute much toward the family's support. Obviously, Quan could not step into that role, so it has been left to the mother to provide for everyone. We have been providing this very needy family with a small stipend, delivered directly to Quan's mother twice a year.

Last year I brought Ha from Kim Boi to Tu Ly to meet Quan, and Ha told Quan about his cleft lip surgery. Quan shared his own story, then said to Ha, "You are lucky."

These are just a few examples of the ways in which Project Vietnam volunteers can offer individual assistance and follow-up for some of the children we encounter. Each year we meet many more who are in need. Please consider a small donation earmarked for this aspect of our work. Ha is still in need of further surgery to straighten his nose, and of course Quan's family is in desperate need of continued support, and many other children and families would benefit as well.

Displyed here are some photographs of Ha and Quan, and of the surrounding natural beauty of their home areas.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Duc Giang Hospital in Hanoi

Just across the Red River from Hanoi's Old Quarter is an excellent example of the disparity in medical services available to needy city residents. The Duc Giang Hospital is staffed by enthusiastic, dedicated doctors, nurses, and aides, but the needs are great. Recently elevated to a higher status with a larger number of patients to be served, the hospital is in need of equipment, supplies and training. Project Vietnam has been asked to add Duc Giang to our list of supported hospitals.

The accompanying photos show the overcrowding and lack of equipment. For example, several infants were housed in the ER temporarily due to a lack of beds for them. The hospital is clean and the staff are highly motivated, and they ask for help on behalf of their needy patients. If you would like to make a contribution to benefit the patients who turn to this hospital for help, your funds can be specifically earmarked to support this needy facility.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Baby Hieu: a report by Jim Brennan in Hanoi

Some of our volunteers from recent missions will remember little Hieu and his lovely parents who travelled with us during our two most recent Medical Missions. Hieu received multiple surgeries (in 2004 and 2005) for a severe cleft lip and concurrent cleft palate. I recently had an opportunity to visit Hieu at his family's home in a remote area in the tea-producing heart of Thai Nguyen Province. The promised 3-hour journey took a lot longer when we discovered that our guide to Hieu's house hadn't been there for sixteen years! Eventually we found the place, and spent an enjoyable afternoon with the extended family. We met Hieu's older brother The, who was the recipient of major heart surgery a few years ago. I'm happy to report that both boys are now healthy and happy.

Hieu is now talking and singing, and running around like a wind-up toy. It was great to hear his happy laughter in between songs. He will need to be seen again by our team, either in November or next March, to assess the need for further touch-up work due to the severity of his original condition. He is seen pictured here alone, and with his brother The and their cousin. I've also included a few photos of the beautiful scenery surrounding their very modest home.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Fund Raising Events Scheduled in Orange County

Project Vietnam has initiated a fundraising campaign “Breaths for Newborns” to save the babies by providing 15,000 CPR kits to trained health personnel.

Our next event in Orange county September 24, 2006, will feature a gourmet dinner, entertainment and a silent auction. We need your help to make this event a success, and meet our target of 600 + CPR kits for newborns! This would save tens of thousands babies yearly!You can donate for the silent auction, help organize and sell tickets!You can also do your own event locally, we would be happy to mail you posters, flyers and generic tickets/receipts.

September 24, 2006:
Regent West
4717 W.1st street,
Santa Ana, CA 92703
5:00 p.m.

For tickets please call 714-641-0850 or email

Recruiting For Medical Mission October 27-November 12, 2006

We are recruiting for the upcoming Medical Mission trip October 27-November 12, 2006. This exciting annual event will take our team to provide training in Saigon and Hanoi, and work in Nghe An province-central Vietnam.

We have extended the sign-up to July 31, 2006 on request from some of you who are on vacation and cannot complete the documentation in time.

We need physicians, nurses, volunteers to work with us on this humanitarian adventure!

Please click here for a cost break down estimate.

If you are interested, please contact us at
Project Vietnam, AAP Chapter 412465 Lewis Street #101Garden Grove, CA 92840
Tel:(714) 641-0850Fax:(714) 434-6158