In late July this year, a team consisted of 72 volunteers include medical practitioners, dentists, dental assistants, pharmacists from Australia and Vietnam headed out to small impoverished village of Nghi Thuan, Nghe An Province for our medical and dental mission. Nghi Thuan Village is located approximately 1400 kilometers north of Saigon. There is no local hospital other than a small run down clinic that was built more than 50 years ago, it is poorly equipped and staff can only treat certain simple medical condition. This area has not seen by any foreign medical team for more than 40 years.

Over the next four days, dental examinations and treatments were carried out in over 1050 patients, most of which were children under the age of 12. The lack of basic oral hygiene and dental education was evident in these patients as dental decay and disease was rampant. Indeed, witnessing extensive dental disease in such young children was very emotionally draining. Treatments ranged from scaling, extractions, fillings and root canal treatments. Furthermore, over 1500 stationery and care packages were distributed to the children after their dental treatment and to the local orphanage.

The medical team performed over 970 medical assessments and the pharmacy team filled over 2000 medical scripts. The ophthalmologist team also restored vision for 50 people who were blinded by cataracts. In addition, 14 patients with deafness were given hearing aids. On the last day of the field trip more than 150 food parcels were distributed to poor families of the village.

Our dedicated volunteers worked tirelessly under physically difficult, hot and humid conditions from the early morning into the late afternoon. However, the rewards of such hard work was worthwhile; the smile on a child’s face once their dental pain was alleviated, the look on an elderly women’s face once her sight is restored and the bows of gratitude from a father’s when he receives much need medications for his family. The impact our team made was positive and memorable.

The immense task of treating so many patients could not have been completed without the support and comradery between the volunteers and the generous financial and material contributions from our donors. The hard work, professionalism and determination of the volunteers and supporters made this trip a successful and rewarding one.