Thursday, January 10, 2002

Day 7: Back on the Bus

Back on the bus at 7:15 a.m. Today we are heading to Rach Gia. Annamarie and Christophe will stay behind.

Today we will meet with the hospital in Rach Gia to try to set up a mission for next year. Rach Gia is located on the Gulf of Thailand, about as far West as one can go in Viet Nam. Rach Gia was my province headquarters for seven months while I served in Viet Nam. I wonder how much of the city I will remember. I wonder what memories and emotions the visit will bring forth?

Once again, the wind fills the sails of our four-wheeled schooner and we sail off, deep into the Mekong Delta.

We arrived at the hospital about 10:30 AM and were greeted by one of the Vice-Directors and one of the department heads.  We had a short meeting and were taken on a tour. The 850-bed hospital looks a bit old on the outside, but is much nicer than our home base in Can Tho. Kien Giang province is much wealthier than Can Tho. My jaw almost hit the floor when I saw the operating rooms. They are brand new! They look like something one would see in America. We looked in on one surgery. The Vietnamese doctors were working on a man with two broken legs. There are eight operating rooms and a 22-bed recovery room.  The hospital has all of the modern equipment that a first-class operating room could want. What a difference between Rach Gia and Can Tho.

Following our tour, the Vice-Director and a couple of the doctors treated our group to lunch. We feasted on huge prawns and crab cooked in a spicy piquant sauce. We were in heaven! After lunch, we returned to the hospital for a meeting with the muckity mucks. The Vice-Director, Head of Child Welfare, Chief of Surgery, and a couple of the department heads sat in. They had lots of questions for us and I did my best to make sure they fully understood what Mission Peace is all about. In the end, they happily agreed to host a team from Mission Peace in 2003. Now all I have to do is come up with doctors and about US$15,000 to make it happen. Piece of cake, UGH. Mission Peace is growing.  Look out world!

We were invited to visit an orphanage on our way back to Can Tho. We picked up one of the City Council members on the way.  The Communist orphanage was nowhere as nice as the Hoa Mai operation. This orphanage has about 50 children of varying ages, and a number of aged homeless people. There were about eight infants under their care. I mentioned I could easily find homes for the babies in America, but they told us that the Government has put a moratorium on adoptions and there is no word on when adoptions will resume.

We did our tour thing, and then it was time to return to Can Tho. We arrived back at the hotel a little past 7:00 PM. It was a long day, but well worth the long trip.

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