Vietnam trip to help sick
Former Pilbara resident Kelly Bell will be among six University of Notre Dame students to head to Vietnam for an eyeopening medical volunteer experience this year.
The medical students will fly to Ho Chi Minh City for 10 days, where they will provide support to sites assisting with conditions such as HIV/AIDS, leprosy, blindness and an orphanage for the disabled.
Ms Bell said as well as gaining practical skills, the trip would help build resilience and self-confidence among the volunteers.
“In Vietnam ... if you have HIV you aren’t outright denied care, but you don’t get the same level of care you get here and you are ostracised in your community,” she said.
“The typical patients who are coming in may have worked in the child sex industry or have come from outlying communities who haven’t even got the most basic equipment — you’re not going to turn them around if they can’t pay.
“I think that is another thing which will be quite eyeopening for us because you can go to a hospital here or you can go to a GP clinic which is bulk billing and the Government pays for your healthcare.”
Ms Bell said it would be interesting to compare conditions in Vietnam with healthcare in the Pilbara, and remote communities in particular, where she one day wants to work.
“There’s not necessarily easy access to healthcare and that’s something people in metro areas take for granted,” she said.
The crew aim to bring 100kg of basic medical supplies and a cauteriser to donate to the facilities as well, and are calling on the public to pitch in.
“We have to work together to organise fundraising and awareness, which can be pretty tough because we’re pulling really big hours at uni as well,” Ms Bell said.
“It is quite a burden, especially because a lot of us don’t have the capacity to work just because uni is so busy.
“If you’re a medical practice or even a mining company with its own medical team that has a box of old gloves we can take with us, that would just mean we have the opportunity to donate more money or take more items with us.”
For more information or to donate money or goods, visit www.volunteer-vietnam.org/.
Former Pilbara resident Kelly Bell will head to Vietnam this year with five other students to help medical establishments in Ho Chi Minh City.