Dr Anita Moric
Dentist, Vietnam Field Trip 2014
You always hear about how wonderful it is to volunteer, but until you actually take part, you never realize how it truly affects you. I first heard about the Vietnam Vision Projects Australia (VVPA) earlier this year from a colleague of mine, who had been involved with this group for the past three years. She never got the chance to finish asking me whether I was interested before I interrupted her with a very enthusiastic “Yes I would love to do this!”
The first few days in Saigon we got acquainted with the VVPA14 group. This was my first time in Vietnam, so as excited as I was, I was also a little nervous. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, showing us the sights and sounds of this amazing city. It was a great way to settle in before the real work began in Long An.
I have to admit, when I first saw the empty rooms in the ground floor of the local hospital in Long An, I found it hard to picture how this was all going to work. But in a matter of hours the VVP14 team managed to set up about 10 chairs all with their own working portable dental units, a sterilizing room, and triage/waiting area. Also hundreds of dental packs were made up which were given out to the children after their dental treatment. The next few days were a blur of children’s faces – smiles, sometimes tears, filling teeth, pulling teeth. Did we really see nearly 600 children? I stopped worrying that I hadn’t treated children for a while back home; I stopped stressing how differently things were done; I think I even forgot about the heat – that’s how hard we worked! We also managed to raise over $2000 AUD for some blind people that came through the clinic – such spontaneous generosity from our volunteers. On the last day, after we cleaned and packed up all the dental supplies, we drove down to a local temple and helped give out food packages to the villagers. This was a very emotional experience for me, and I will never forget how thankful the villagers were, one lovely lady in particular gave me a big hug after I burst into tears. Sometimes the language barrier doesn’t matter.
I am truly thankful to everyone involved in VVP14 for looking after us so well, especially the local volunteers and dental students, whose assistance was invaluable. I’d like to think I made a little bit of difference, but honestly this experience made a huge difference to me. Once again, thank you, and hope to see you next year.
Dr Anita Moric, Dentist, Adelaide 2014