Friday, June 22, 2012
Without the support of Temple University School of Pharmacy, this life altering, personal growth experience could have never been possible.
On behalf of the The entire Vietnam Medical Mission 2012 Team, especially my 4 outstanding Doctor of Pharmacy Students, and the patients of Vietnam, I send our sincere thanks!!
This is the end of only ONE chapter of what I hope is a very long book of future experiences through Medical Missions and Temple University School of Pharmacy!!
All things considered, Im very proud of both Temple Pharmacy and Mercer University for coming together with the same passion and goal and exceeding our initial expectations!!! I have built many great relationships with my new students from Mercer University, solidified friendships with new colleagues Bac Si Ha, Dr. O'Brien, and Dr. McMahon!!! Most of all I have developed a lifelong relationship, friendship, and respect for my 4 students from Temple University School of Pharmacy who took this opportunity willingly and selflessly!!! I could not be more proud of Thao Nguyen, Montano Recinto, Hang Nguyen and Chi Tran!!! You all know how I feel about you. My many thanks to you for putting up with a faculty member 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 1 month!!!
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The second family, was a man born with severe disabling polio, living with his mother and brother. Interacting with him was touching. Through my students translation, the man told this story: "I am both happy and sad. I am happy because I am 51 years old, born with a devstating disease that claims the life of most by age 30-40." "I am sad because, even though I am living longer than most, I am a severe burden on the rest of my family. he don't deserve to be burdened with my 24/7 and thus I wish to die" ***Just as I thought I couldn't get more upset, tears trickled down my face***
The third, a 29 year old man, born to a mother who was exposed to Agent Orange during the war. As you can see, he is severely crippled and disabled, barely able to communicate, but full of emotion. He is taken care of by his only living relative, his Uncle. Immediately upon our interaction I was torn with emotion but was able to control my external signs. Again through translation of my student, he told this story: "I am very grateful to my Uncle who cares for me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I only have one wish: I wish God would take me to heaven very soon. I know God will provide me the things I did not have on Earth including my legs and the ability to care for others. I wish to die before my Uncle, that way when God provides my ability and legs, I can finally repay my Uncle and take care of him in his time of need"!!!
Needless to say, I could no longer hold back my external, as overt tears began flowing freely down my face. As I tried to conceal my sadness, I approached the man and provided a warm touch to show I heard his story and how my heart goes out to him and his Uncle. I wished both a life of PEACE!!
As I reflected on my journey back to the clinic I recall these thoughts: People show pictures in books and on slides to illustrate a point about devastating disease, but PLEASE NEVER forget that behind every picture for effect is a human being who deals with as much emotion as each and every one of us!!! They have feelings, regrets, wishes, desires to bring peace and happiness to others!!!
I thought of how often we and I complain about things. How the complaints are often superficial, and I began to be ashamed of the little things we complain about!!! Spending time with people who live daily lives with devastating disabilities opens my eyes to the world, the true suffering, and the HUMAN NATURE of all!!!
Thank you Thao for making sure I was invited to attend these meetings and for exposing me to the BEST and TOUGHEST and most EMOTIONAL part of our journey!!!
Finally a well deserved day off. We traveled from Dong Tap to Vung Tau by bus for 7 hours. We arrived to a very nice beach resort to spend one free evening. Immediately the team ran to the beach, not changing our team traveling clothes and dove head first into the sea. The group deserved this relaxing evening and used it to continue to build team working skills. I am so very proud of how well Team Temple Pharmacy connected with Team Mercer University for the past 3 weeks. We traveled as individual teams but since the first day, we have worked together as ONE team. When two groups have the same passion, dedication, and goals, it is easy to assimilate and join forces to care for, treat, and assist the needy!! Great job!!!