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Staying Positive.

June 6, 2016


  Today we went to a new clinic situated inside an elementary school. As the bust was pulling up into the courtyard, we could clearly see little children in their white and blue uniforms playing on the main playground, oddly uninterested in the arrival of a huge bus containing foreigners. As expected, a few ladies on the bust screamed with delight at the sign of the children; the future pediatrics must have been in paradise. We set up the clinic in the main spacious chapel with white marble tile flooring and big windows that let in the fresh air, while the pharmacy was set-up in a smaller classroom across the courtyard. We ended up treating a total of 209 patients. Half-way through the day, a heavy downpour of rain brought fresh new breezes and coolness to the previously hot humid air. I have always loved the rain, but now I am ever more thankful for the relief it can bring. Most of the patients presented with the more typical symptoms of acid reflux, muscle and joint pain from decades of arduous farming, blurry vision and headaches from working in the glaring hot sun for too long. Yet my heart breaks bit-by-bit and day-by-day as I see more elderly patients in their 70's complaining of these symptoms, knowing our medications are only bandages to give them temporary relief, while the real culprit is the farm work they must perform day-in day-out at such old fragile ages. At times, I feel helpless, like giving drowning survivors small life rafts to weather an indefinite churning sea storm. I can only hope that our smiles, warmth, touch, and genuine concerns can give them some additional comfort. I have to remind myself that medicine is only one factor in a person's life, while their social economic situation is often beyond our control, and that sphere itself is tied to an even bigger complicated cultural, political, and economic system. We can only do what we can for our patients, and I sincerely pray that is makes a positive difference at the end of the day. 


Binh Ngo, Medical Student

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