Shedding Light on the Impact of Orbis in Vietnam
Danielle Aurelia is the fifth and final student to blog about her experience in Hue, Vietnam – and the second ever student from ACS Doha to take part in our internship! During her busy week observing surgery, meeting patients and discovering Vietnam, Danielle finds inspiration in the medical professionals and children she meets. Read her blog below to find out what this week has taught her.
When I learned that I had been given the chance to participate in this internship, I was beyond ecstatic. I saw it as a chance to learn more about the medical field, to learn more about the impact that Orbis has on visually impaired people here in Vietnam and to listen to the stories of the individuals whose lives have changed because of Orbis. This week has, by far, proven those predictions right, but I never anticipated one thing: the experiences I have had in this internship have opened my eyes in a way that I never thought was possible, prompting me to view the world around me in a new light.
We frequented Hue Eye Hospital in Vietnam, a hospital that focuses on eye care and is supported by Orbis. With the help of the charity, it provides cost-free surgeries to children whose families could otherwise not afford them.
There, I met and talked with several medical professionals that have strengthened my inclination to pursue a degree in medicine, the most remarkable one being Dr. Thao, a paediatric ophthalmologist who is collaborating with Orbis. She has made it her life’s mission to continue helping visually impaired people see the world with clearer eyes.
She performed the surgery on Phuc, a 16-year-old girl who was struggling with strabismus (squint), while our team observed from the sidelines. Her expertise opened my eyes to what the medical profession entails and it made me want to be as dedicated as her someday.
Dr. Thao conducting a check-up
I have also met with former Hue Eye Hospital patients across Hue, travelling through rice fields and bustling areas. In the van I always sat next to the window, so I could see everything near the road. When we were on our way home today, we passed by a pond of lotus flowers.
The flowers reminded me of the former patients we met: Quoc Tinh who suffered from retinopathy of prematurity along with several other diseases in his small and premature body. Van Tuan who contracted cataracts and has to sell lucky draws with his father and sister on the streets each day just to put food on the table. Thu Van who was teased for her strabismus before her surgery, and Bach Phuc who never saw the beauty of his eyes because he had ptosis.
The flowers also made me recall the children living in the Friends of Hue Foundation’s Shelter, a children’s shelter. Dr. Thao, along with her team, conducted an eye screening for the 30 children living there. The foundation gives abused or abandoned children a place to live until they can stand on their own feet. The children welcomed us with warm smiles and giggles. We played some games and sports with them and somehow communicated with “signs” because of the language barrier that existed when an interpreter was absent.
Children from Friends of Hue Foundation having lunch
Despite what these children have been through in life, I saw their smiles blooming like lotus flowers. After all, the lotus plant thrives in the mud until it breaks the surface and blooms only after experiencing stifling darkness and prolonged adversity. It still manages to rise to the top and reach its full potential. By supporting partners all around the world, Orbis has helped countless individuals to break the surface by giving them back one of the most important things that can help them reach their dreams: their vision.
This internship has showed me how Orbis, by providing quality eye care to people from developing countries, changes lives for the better. It has also inspired me to help people in the future just like Orbis does, so that they can tackle life with the courage gained from what they have been through.