This blog is posted by Frank Estep.
Our health care team rolled into Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Highway One. We had just finished clinics in Hanoi and Nha Trang. Our visit to Vietnam would finish with three days of clinics treating 750 orphan children. The preparations had all been made with the administration, and the children had been prepared for the visit with schedules of the various areas of clinic that would be provided. On this particular trip, the team included medical and dental professionals as well as lay persons to assist in the work.
The team arrived early at the orphanage to arrange the rooms, supplies and equipment for our clinics. We were braced for a very busy three days with the hundreds of children that would be seen. One hour, then two passed. Where were the children? Finally, we learned that there was a problem that was causing great embarassment to the orphanage administrators. When the children learned that the dentists were part of the clinic, panic began to spread. Early in the morning over half of the children (mainly the older children) ran away from the orphanage so they would not have to see the dentists. Thus the low number of children showing up for treatment. Eventually, most of the children were rounded up, and the clinics proceeded as planned.
In many countries of the world, dental work is performed without any anesthesia, and it is a horrifically painful experience. Once a few of the brave children discovered that our team brought “medicine” that made the experience virtually painless, the word again began to spread that this was a “good” experience. Many of the children received the dental care that they needed, and their pain was relieved.
Sometimes care, hope and healing are given in humorous third-world situations. Want to make a difference in a child’s life among the poorest of the poor? Join Fingerprints Across Africa as reach out to orphans in the nation of Malawi this October 15 – 27. Visit our web site at fpaaf.org for more information.