Special Guest Post

And now for something completely different…
The first part of our adventure was all about getting the lay of the land. I needed to learn how to cross the street without getting killed -or even bumped into by scooters whose top speed generally doesn’t seem to get above 30 km/h, we saw first hand the realities of the health system and we ate our way through Ha Noi stopping each day for a beer break to catch our breath – who knew there is a thriving craft beer industry in Ha Noi!

Sampling Passionfruit Wheat Ale and “God’s Water”

The next phase was to begin influencing change in whatever way we could. Leslie and I were invited to present to a committee at the national level of the Ministry of Health. Our presentations were about Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy practice in Canada, what we do and who we do it with sort of thing. The committee members included some important people such as a high ranking Ministry of Health representative and the president of the national rehabilitation association who, perhaps enjoyed a few too many rice wine shots before the meeting, proclaimed that he is not afraid to speak his mind anymore about the needs of rehab in Vietnam because he is 73 and doesn’t “frankly give a damn” about what others say. Rice shots at lunch are a way of men bonding over a successful meeting in the morning. It appeared that he had had a very successful morning.

Following our presentations; with the Minister (4th from left) and a 73 year old!

Our fearless translator Duy helped us both to present our thoughts clearly. One thing for sure is that presenting with a translator is a whole new ballgame! What we realized though was that one important reason for our presentations was so that our Vietnamese co-presenters could give their presentation and say “As Miss Dee has already said….”. Or “As Miss Leslie already described…..”. We gave them “street cred”! Our next activity was to attend a working group with the World Health Organization and people from the many different ministries, different NGOs and stakeholders. At one point we were all asked to share our dreams for rehabilitation in Vietnam in 2030. I was particularly moved to hear one person’s dream that was if one of her relations had a stroke in 2030, and needed a stick to walk, there would be one for them at the hospital and they would be able to leave the hospital with the stick and use the bus to get home. We learned that there is a long way to go before even that seemingly simple dream can become a reality for many people here. Leslie and I then spent our time writing protocols, for the expansion of OT and ST services, that the people here will submit to the government when the time is right.

Visioning exercise with the World Health Organization

With that job done, we said good bye to Ha Noi and with our fearless Duy headed off to fly to Ho Chi Min City or as some locals call it still it, Saigon. I’m excited to see it for the first time and Leslie is giddy to visit some of her local haunts from her time here last year when this was her home for 3 weeks. She is amazing me with her ability to get us around! Truly, I’d be lost without her – literally and figuratively.

Early morning in Hanoi

One Comment

  1. Wow! Sounds like you are having a great trip and are making a difference. What an eye opener to hear that a simple walking stick is a dream for 2030!

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