23. February 2010

Xin Chao dear friends,
Reda El Scherif is reporting from Vietnam...

First of all I would like to introduce the full name of Father Jerome and his niece Lien.  His passport name is Nguyen Duc Manh and her full name is Bui Thi Mai Lien. So, that´s settled.

Sunday the 21. 02. 2010 our group continued the jounrey to Cao Lanh in the province of Dong Thap. Again, we were welcomed by representatives  of the local health and social services.  We encountered the same procedure as in the Tien iang.  (see Report II)

The next morning our eight person team was joined by a six officials and a local broadcasting team including camera and editorial staff. It took us an hour to the Mekong Delta. Here we visited four families.  

This region is very rural, we travelled long distances to reach the children.  

All heart diseased children were already seen by the foundation Economy for the Needy / Hungy.  Therefore we were able to inform the families about definite appointments regarding the surgery durig the time of our visit.  

In contrast to our appointed visits there were no unforseen dramatic surprises with an additional illness such as the tumor affliction of the two boys of the prevous visited province.  

Thus, it is still difficult for me to understand how these people should stay healthy under such often primitive and hygienically rather threating conditions.  Again and again the problem of contaminated drinking water arises.  

The twelf members of six year old Le Thi Ngoc Tram`s family live in a small, illegally constructed, dilapidated wooden shackle, next to a river, the children sleeping unproteced on the blank (Lehm) mud floor.

In one family the mother of the seven year old heart diseased Nguyen THi Thuy Duy mentioned that she sufferes from uterus problems, being one among many in the neighbouhood.  

Monday morning we had appointments with three families in the vicinity and in the city of Cao Lanh.

I was rather  surprised, when, after lunch, I took the car and now didn´t need more than five minutes to the home of next child.  The car stopped downtown in fornt of a beerhall (local bar). I found it a nice gesture of the officals to invite us for a drink after lunch.  
But we went right through the beerhall, and the civilizied city life suddenly faded out.  After havind left the beerhall we faced the same desolate living conditions as the day before.  

The father of the eight year old heart diseased Huynh Thi Kim Thao is a day laborer.  He constructed his quite spacious home from recycled corrugated iron, sheets of asbest, driftwood, and other construction  materials, he bringss home frrom varoious construction sites.  Once we entered their home we found everyone drenched in sweat, it took us just two minutes to join everyone else..

Claus Ruff sat down with the skilled construction worker, to work out an expense plan of the construction parts needed to improvethe living conditions.  

Tuesday we set forth to visit four families living in a region app. one hour distance from Cao Lanh.  As  with the previously visited families, it was evident that three of the four families will not have the means, under any circumstances, to afford the life saving surgery of their children.  The fourth child, on the other hand, showed no hardship according to vietnamese standarts, and was not afflicetd, like many of the heart diseased,  by deficiency symptoms, malnutrition, and generell weakness.  This girl was merely introduced by a photograph through high ranking officials of the socialist province administration.

The previous dismisseals of two families in Tien Ciang suggested by high ranking officials were due to lack of hardship.  This lead us to suspect that connections to provincial goverment officials allow some families, maybe becauseof their status as, for instance, a war hero, to gain unjustified, preferential treatment.  

It is very unpleasant and sad for everyone involved having to inform a family that a surgery is not to be allocated.  

This is reason why, after the last visit, we held a meeting with the officials, such as we did in Tien Ciang,to ensure that in future the cases introduced are cases of real hardship.  The government administration informed us, that they will move heaven and earth to ensure surgery of the child.  
Our experiences left a sad impression when we headed back to Saigon.  

Once in Saigon, I met with the boyss of the Son Ky Childrenstar orphanage, I witnessed the arrival of the new table tennis table.  Immedeatly we started a set of games running around the table.  

Today, wednesday, together with Brother Jerome I visited a carpenter and inquired regarding the option of a traineeship for one of the boys.  The carpneter showed his workshop and indicated interrest.  
Later at the day, while we were at a construction site, visiting a property on sale and perfectly suitable for the orphanage, we received a phone call from the carpenters wife. She wanted to see the boy.  

Late aftenoon, the moment of thruth showed.  We met for a return match. (See Vietnam report I) Unfortunately, our team did not manage to win the soccer match. But in the next couple of days we surly will have the chance of another return match.  

I´ll be reporting again..

Reda El Scherif

More pictures from the journey