When doors of opportunity open, if we have qualified people available, REI seeks to enter in. This month we had the human resources to field three teams of volunteer specialists: Dental, Otology, and Art Journaling.
Our Dental Team, led by veteran Dr. Jim Sandlin, served primarily in the National Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology (“Dentistry,” to most of us) and in Hanoi Medical University. We were blessed to have Dr. Jim, his wife Paula, Dr. Mary Burns, Dr. Jenny Sun, Ana Penich, and Albert Miklosy serve together as our 2017 Dental Team. The photo below, taken at a birthday party for Mary, also includes our own Madame Lien, Jill Vernon, and Drs. Huyen, Nga, and Tung, bookended by Paula, all in the back row.
As always, our objective is not simply to do the work, but to train others how to do it; not simply to teach practitioners, but to train those who will train others. We seek to always have generations of trainers in view. So, Jim and his team taught and trained, in both a classroom setting and in the clinics and labs. He, Mary, and Jenny gave an update on current trends in TMJ treatment, Conservative Restorative Rehabilitation, oral airway issues (which contribute to sleep problems, jaw clinching, and tooth grinding), plus much more. Ana and Albert, both experienced dental technicians, spent the majority of their time in the lab, working on case diagnosis and planning, as well as demonstrating various porcelain and acrylic techniques. They also introduced their new Vietnamese colleagues to materials just now entering the Southeast Asian market.
All of which sounds (and indeed is) quite technical, but the aim is simple: improve people’s quality of life through resolving jaw pain, breathing issues, and dental problems, both functional and aesthetic. Our Vietnamese counterparts, who are themselves very skilled, were eager to receive further help and training, in order to, in turn, help their people. It was a great week, but our team isn’t done yet. Most of the team members will invest another several days in Ho Chi Minh City before returning to their home country.
Paula also served in the hospital through teaching English to young medical professionals. English is the lingua franca of medicine and business in our age, and these professionals profited through Paula’s help in moving forward in mastering the language.
Our Cochlear Implant/Otology Team, led by REI’s longtime friend Dr. Rick Kopke (third from left below), included Dr. Mike Disher (fourth from right) and Ms. Eda Chen (third from right), who flew in from Singapore to teach on a highly specialized topic as well.
Their work included examinations of CI and otology patients, as well as presenting a 2-day otology workshop. Much of their service took place at National ENT Hospital (NENTH), with which we have partnered for many years. In the past it was not unusual for hospitals to be somewhat insular and siloed, but in this case, we were very pleased to see NENTH invite and host doctors from other hospitals as well, including National Children’s Hospital and Vietnam-Cuba Hospital. These health professionals came together in order to improve health care for Vietnamese, both children and adults, who suffer from hearing loss and related issues. And as Paula did at NHOS, Mike and Eda also helped with the ENT Hospital’s English program, as they assisted REI resident staff Zonia Go with her weekly classes there.
But healing is often needed not only on a physical level, but on an emotional level as well. REI’s service through Tea Talk, our social work venue, took on a new dimension with the launch of our Art Journaling program, with the Art Journaling Team led by Ms. Cindy Limbrick, joined by Ginny Teel, Christine Peh, Trang Nha, Thuy Trang and Jill Vernon. (The photo below does not include Jill nor Thuy Trang, but does include Dr. Lan at far left, a former student of Tea Talk founder Michael Ong, who remains a good friend and is now a university lecturer.)
The philosophy behind this program is that “Art is the Language of the Heart”; and self-expression through art can enhance life through awakening and developing one’s own creativity. It can also provide deeper self-understanding and subsequent healing, particularly for people who have undergone deep trauma or deep emotional wounding. For 5 years now Tea Talk has been a safe place for young people to open up about personal or family issues (difficult to do for many Vietnamese, who may see sharing about such issues as bringing shame on the family). Our initial foray into this facet of counseling took place late last year. Now, with Cindy’s help, we are beginning to train trainers (sound familiar?) who can move this aspect of our service forward.
Dental health. Aural health. Emotional health. All part of what we seek to further, as we build people to build a nation.