Friday, June 8, 2012

Sorry I've Been Away! by Lee

Hello Everyone,
so sorry that I haven't been blogging as regularly lately. Things got a little hectic as I began my "working days". On Tuesday June 5th we began touring health care facilities. First we went to Bin An Hospital, which is the western hospital. The director was very hospitable. He spent some time telling us some general information about the facility and then allowed me to ask him many questions. The hospital was very bright and clean and is making good use of modern technology for medical testing. I have many photos to share once I get home.

Next we went to the traditional hospital which was a bit smaller and quite a bit older, but they are doing some construction for some additional space. One of the most fascinating things about the tour of the traditional hospital was when they showed us the room where they "cook the medicine". They have a room full of what looks like clear pressure cookers and you can see the medicinal plants simmering away, and the whole room smells delicious. They seal some of the liquid medicine in little pouches and they bottle some of it too. We were able to see how they do everything start to finish!

Then we went to the pharmacy where the traditional pharmacists were wrapping up the dried plant medications in little paper parcels. They were following a prescription that looked more like a recipe. They would weigh a big handful of one type of dried plant and then put a little onto each of about 8 big pieces of butcher paper. Then do the same for each ingredient. Once all elements of the prescription were piled onto the paper they wrapped it all up and moved on to the next prescription type. I think they boil it all up together like tea, but I'm not sure.

The pharmacists at the traditional hospital gave me a package of some thin pieces of a tree trunk (yes, wood) and told me it was for the next time I got a sore throat. Then they invited me to try a little right then, so I bit a little piece off. It was strangely sweet, and as you might imagine, very chewy and hard! They said several times "like chewing gum", which I think means don't swallow it. Can't say I was even tempted to swallow it  ;-0

After that we visited the orphans in Mong Tho and the "Old People's Home" which is on the same grounds as the orphanage. The orphans and elderly are clean, well fed, and appear well cared for--and cared about. The women providing care were very kind and gentle. The food is simple, but enough. I was very saddened to see so many children who will probably never get the opportunity to be raised in a home with parents of their own--and elderly people who seem to have few family connections or visitors. They are all in it together.

It was a very busy day that ended with "coffee" with our friends from the local community college. Going to a coffee bar in Vietnam does not mean you are going to drink coffee. They serve a wide variety of nonalcoholic drinks. One of my favorites is Pennywort and coconut combined together in a drink that is sort of like a smoothie. It is a terrible shade of dark green and smells strange, but it tastes sort of spearminty and is very good. Goodnight, Lee

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