I am pleased to report that this project continues to meet all its objectives and the extent of our services has increased. This year there have been visits in January, when I went for my annual trip, April and June to date while further trips are planned for August, November and December.
In January, we commenced English lessons for a group of general nurses and allied health professionals at the Ba Ria Hospital. My wife, Judy, and I conducted these English lessons while the rest of the team treated patients at the Long Tan Clinic and the Long TanPrimary School. We spent each morning with approximately 18 nurses doing English excercises,on a one to one basis, and at the end of the week the students had a small exam which they all passed. The health department seemed very pleased with these lessons although I, personally, are not sure they will be of great benefit.
Further English lessons were conducted at the next visit but, inexplicably, the lessons were cancelled for the June visit as the nurses were on holidays. This may or may not be true and it is probable that they will never get to the bottom of it. We will see what happens at our next visit.
The other initiative is that we are now treating children from the Vung Tau orphanage and also from a children’s centre in Long Hai. These centres are run by an Australian Vietnamese lady who was on the airlift to Australia in 1975 with my son, Sam. A few years ago she returned to Vietnam, found her mother, and has devoted her life to looking after the orphans. You may have seen her story on a recent ABC documentary. We concentrated exclusively on these children last month and from all reports the visit was a great success although, anecdotally, some children did not come back to the centre after lunch because it was their turn to see the dentist.
This is the first time we have obtained permission to treat children out of the Long Tan area and this is a milestone. It means that it will now be easier to treat the children from Nui Dat and probably the primary school at Long Phuoc and Hoa Long. It has become apparent that the Long Tan children are in danger of being overserviced and it is time that we extended our area of care throughout the province.
Many of our volunteers return to Vietnam but it is always nice to have a reserve available for the future. Therefore, if you know anyone who would be interested in joining a team, please ask them to contact me and we can send further information.
Colin Twelftree OAM