our mission logistics
“You’ve just been accepted to VnHOPE medical mission 2019. What are you going to do next?”
“I’m going to book my flight to Ho Chi Minh City!!”
Applying for your business visa: We need your arrival and departure details submitted to us by 3/30/2019. This information is required to apply for our entire groups’ business visa for Vietnam. The business visa is mandatory for us to carry out our services during our summer medical mission. VnHOPE is working with Titan, a travel agency who will be applying for our visa. The cost will be $65 per volunteer. Prior to leaving for Vietnam, VnHOPE will provide all volunteers with a Letter of Approval. You will be asked to show this letter and your passport prior to boarding your outbound flight to Vietnam.
Booking your flights: You need to book flights to arrive to Ho Chi Minh City before noon on 6/23/2019. Most volunteers will arrive at around the same time if you travel on the red eye flights leaving the USA. We have charter buses which will pick our group up for check in at our hotel. If you land later than noon on 6/23, you will need to arrange for your own transportation to the hotel. In addition if you arrive earlier than 6/23 you will need to meet up with the group on that day. Team W volunteers who arrive early should go directly to the hotel and wait for us at the lobby around noon. Student volunteers who arrive early must go to the airport on 6/23 to meet up with your respective teams at 10 AM. Meet right outside the exit gate of the international terminal, look for volunteers with VnHOPE badges. Students will pick up their badges and help load boxes and supplies onto the buses and trucks.
Arriving at Tan Son Nhat airport: Once you land at the TSN airport, you will make your way to the immigration area (see map, below: 2nd floor, #1.) After immigration, you will proceed to the 1st floor to baggage claim (2), then finally to customs (3). Once you’re done with customs, you will look for our VnHOPE volunteers. They will be wearing VnHOPE badges.
Understanding the mission organization:
There is the mission management team:
Mission Director: Dr Kim Thai
Vice Mission Director: Dr Diane Truong
Patient Registration: Ms Tiana Ho and Mrs Bich Quach
Treasurer: Mr Duc Tran
Mission physicians: Dr. Oliver Nguyen and Dr Nguyet Vuong
There are 3 student leaders: Timothy Nguyen, Kimi Taira, Andy Duong
There are 5 student teams (A,B,C,D,E): led by 2 co-leaders
The professional and adult team is team W, combined we will be offering the following services:
Our tentative work schedule: We plan to see about 250 primary care patients, 150 pediatric patients and 100 gynecologic patients each day we have clinics (the patient volume will be finalized once we know the composition of our Health Professional Volunteer teams.) On a rotating basis, students will be involved in taking vital signs and checking labs. You will help with vision screening, patient education, pharmacy dispensing, and organizing patient flows. You will also be shadowing primary care, pediatric, gynecology, and dental services. Your team leaders will train and guide you through all these processes. This is our tentative work schedule. It is subject to change depending on our local volunteer partners and the Vietnamese government, remember to be open minded about last minute changes.
A typical work day schedule: We will be on long bus rides to and from our hotel. Our days start early, plan on having breakfast offered at our hotel and be ready to board the bus at 7:30 AM . Loading and unloading of supplies and equipment from and to our bus are expected at the beginning and end of each clinic. In addition, we usually have to prepare for clinics the night before, with re-stocking of our pharmacy inventory. This is a typical clinic day schedule (subject to change.)
Our work attire/additional packing recommendation: Since we’ll be working as representatives of VnHOPE, it is expected that all volunteers wear their ID badges and a VnHOPE wristband which will be distributed to you. It will be hot and humid (our facility may not have air conditioning) so plan on wearing lightweight bottoms. Short shorts are not allowed, and gals are not to wear shorts on work days. Guys may wear knee length shorts. Closed toe shoes are also part of the work dress code. For sightseeing/field trip days, you can dress casually. Vietnam in June and July is simply hot and humid, and for the most part dusty. Expect sweat, mosquitoes, and allergies. Plan on packing sunscreen, mosquito repellent, hats, sunglasses, and cooling towels. Personal medications to consider are Ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol, Immodium, Neosporin, Hydrocortisone cream 1%, and Claritin. Personal care items to consider are band-aids, feminine hygiene products, hand-sanitizers, baby wipes, and ear plugs (in case your roommate snores.) Last, you might notice from the schedule above that there’s an end of mission gala planned. Plan on packing dressy outfits to party in. See packing list for more details.
Staying connected in Vietnam: This means you have to remember to call your parents or significant others back home on a regular basis. Nothing earns you more negative vibes than a phone call waking up the management team in the middle of night due to a family member inquiring on your well being. We also realize that your well being depends on you being connected to your devices. You can unlock your phone and purchase a SIM card in Vietnam. These are readily available for purchase and most phone companies offer 30 days of unlimited data for about $10 USD. You may elect to buy a basic phone and SIM card for about $40 USD which will allow you to call and text. In Vietnam, you are charged only for outgoing calls, so ask your friends and family to call you. You can install the VIBER app on your phone and use WiFi when available. We strongly encourage you to pack a surge protector 220 volts; electrical activity in Vietnam is unpredictable and surges may occur which will damage your equipment.
Calling for donations: We ask that you start collecting new or gently used stuffed animals. They should not be too large as the larger ones are harder to pack. The children absolutely love to receive them after their dental visits or as a gift at pharmacy. To stock our pharmacy with children’s vitamins, we ask each volunteer to donate bottles of chewable vitamins. In addition, small stickers are a hit as treats for our young patients after a lab test or a vision screening. Lastly, our adult patients treasure our gifts of eucalyptus oil bottles and sunglasses. Please start asking your friends and family for these donations. We ask that you pack these donation items in a Large packing box as a check in baggage. See packing list for more details.
Food and lodging: You will have an assigned roommate. We will be staying at Le Duy Grand Hotel, located at District 3 Ho Chi Minh City. The hotel has WiFi and will offer our group breakfast and dinner daily. For breakfast, it’s usually a buffet style affair; load up and eat heartily! You will burn it off when you are at clinic. For lunch, we will be eating at our clinic site. For dinner, each student team will have their own table for meals at our hotel. Team W is free to roam around but don’t expect to eat any leftovers from the students. They are known to have meals around town even after they consume their dinner at the hotel. In addition, there will be opportunities to eat dinners out, of your choice, throughout the week. We advise that you don’t partake in street foods unless you have traveled to Vietnam previously and have built up a strong GI immune system. Otherwise, proceed at your own risk. In addition, only drink bottled water, and avoid putting ice in your drinks. The students will quickly figure out the popular destinations for coconut water, che and boba drinks among many other discoveries so ask them to share their finds with you.
Surviving clinic days: You’re participating in a medical mission to selflessly serve the underserved. Your first goal is to accomplish the mission of VnHOPE: Healthcare, Outreach, Philanthropy, and Education. Have a positive attitude, be flexible and go with the flow. Take care of yourself; don’t stay up past curfew, get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, and enjoy your experiences. We ask that you work hard, follow ground rules, and respect your teams. Even with the most detailed planning from your mission management team, unanticipated challenges will occur. We appreciate your patience and understanding for any unforeseen inconveniences. Your second goal is to absorb this life-changing journey and to return home safe and sound!