If you have been on a volunteer mission you know that it can be unpredictable, & you never know what to expect truly until you get there.
While I have visited other locations in Vietnam with Operation Smile, this was my first time to Hoi An & the Quang Nam Province. With a population of approximately 120, 000 Vietnamese in this ancient riverside port, you can see the beautiful streets influenced by the Japanese & Chinese. This town now remains as a unique heritage site!
However, the lack of awareness of oral health here & in the provinces was abhorrently clear. While our aim was to focus on emergency dental care, we realized more & more each day that we can make a bigger impact through education, prevention & teaching! 2019 marked 30 years for Operation Smile Vietnam and multiple medical & dental missions took place to mark this milestone in November!
Our dental team worked very hard this week by providing as much education & treatment as we could but there is still more to be done! We saw over 500 kids per day. One of the main things we focused on was teaching safety in providing comprehensive medical & dental care.
We are always humbled by the challenges that a community faces with a lack of resources. We also organized a conference in Hanoi were physicians & dentists were able to come together to teach local providers. As always we come away with new friendships & connections with the local Operation Smile volunteers who work so hard to make these missions succeed as well & to continue the work. I feel so incredibly lucky to be a part of this & share these experiences with my team & patients.