IEP Countdown to Vietnam: Mai Phan

Mai Phan is more than a translator for our patients. She's an amazing part of the team and helps us better connect with and understand Vietnamese culture. She has an amazing spirit and heart.

I used to work at the same clinic with Dr. Lehnert. One day, he showed me the IEP pamphlet and asked if I was interested and wanted to join the team. As soon as I saw that the medical mission was in my country, I said "yes" without hesitation.

I went home that night to go online to study more about IEP. I realized it's an ongoing project and was bigger than I thought. Like most of us on the first trip, I was so excited, anxious, worried, nervous that I wouldn't be much help for the team.

While on the mission, I learned that every member truly comes here for the love to help the less fortunate kids in Cần Thơ. Everyone has so much compassion in their daily duties, including those as young as Dr. Lehnert's sons and as experienced as Henry. These missions would not be complete without the heart of IEP--Dr. Lehnert, and his dedicated family.

My main job is a translator, so I hear a lot of touching stories from the families. They are so grateful to Dr. Lehnert and the surgical team. But due to the language barriers and the inferiority complex they feel, they only can cry in happiness knowing their son/daughter has been helped by the team without any obligation, nor charge.

To these families, the IEP surgeons are their loving mother, as the Vietnamese idiom says: "Lương y như từ mẫu." meaning "The physician as a loving mother."

Not only the patients and their parents but the people of Can Tho and everyone at the General Hospital--from the director to the janitor--is so appreciative of what IEP has done for their people over the years.

The IEP team members already root their hearts in Cần Thơ. And the Can Tho people will forever grateful to the IEP team.

I think we have so much connection within, even though we are so far away in the other side of the earth. But sure enough, our hearts has no distance.

For me, this is my third trip. Here we come again Cần Thơ, my Beloved city!
Mai with Drs Nyska, Palmanovich, and Lehnert.