Spring 2015 COPI Medical Mission Report
by binh rybacki
Our March 2015 Medical Mission consisted of 12 Americans and 16 Vietnamese team members. We started in Phu Tho province and moved north to Lao Cai province to take care of children of two middle schools. The children at San Sa Ho Middle School were happy to see us back and we were happy to see them. We brought them dignity dresses, mittens and scarves made by members of the Soroptimist International of Fort Collins. We also bought rain boots for the children to use. Most of the children walk barefoot to school.
We could not return to Sapa boarding school this year. There was no reason given to us, just a flat no from the new principal. Our relationship with the school for 10 years has abruptly ended. We decided to pay a visit to the San Sa Ho elementary school. By a miracle we discovered 334 first through fifth graders who need us desperately. The children have one full meal a day while they are in school. Each lunch is a dried fish as big as a thumb and a few floating pieces of green in ramen noodle broth. Their families sent only a bit of cooked rice; the teachers have to get them fish and greens. Most of them had never seen a toothbrush before and all of them wear clothes haven't been washed for months. Sometimes poverty is not describable.
We sat down with the teachers of these children and worked out a formula to get a well-balanced meal for each child. It will cost is 10 cents per meal to get the children eggs and fresh vegetable for their lunch. COPI is committed to return and feed the children.
Our next stop was in Quang Nam province. We held two clinics in Dien Hong and Cam Thanh. These are community clinics, thus we have patients from one day old to 92 years young. Our returning patients are much healthier in dental care. We were able to give 20 bicycles to 40 students who would have quit school since they live too far from school. Our bicycles enable the students to stay in school. There is no bus service for public schools in Vietnam.
We moved south to Binh Duong province and returned to Thuan An deaf school. Our 356 patients made the day very long but we were happy to return. We should return annually and continue to educate the children on the important of brushing their teeth. The nuns and staff are so thoughtful; they fed us lunch and provide snacks to the team. We also gave 10 bicycles to the children here and the orphans from two orphanages nearby.
Our last clinic at the Youth Shelter has always been the hardest. The children always love to see us. All of the children are attending classes and some of them could very well advance to college. The Youth Shelter is the holding place for children who have run away or have been in trouble with the law. Some of them were rescued from human trafficking and labor trafficking. We had made tremendous amount of improvement in 12 years. The children are victims of their own circumstances and we are just glad to be able to give them love and hope.
On this trip, we took care of 1220 patients. 80% of them needed dental care.
Our main goal is not to cure the world from illness; we just want to bring friendship and education to help our friends to have preventive care and healthy living habits.
This team was exceptionally good. We bonded together well and we truly worked hard for our patients. Thank you Team March 2015. Please stay in touch. We also want to thank our donors who contributed to the Mission Fund. Your support allow us to bring remedy to some of the most remote areas of Vietnam.