It’s sixth months since I arrived in Vietnam, nervous about what to expect, and as I am near of my PULSE assignment, I can say it’s been one of the best experiences I have ever had. From stepping over chickens on my commute and never knowing what food I will be asked to try, to working in remote communities and getting to live the local life, to using my skills in a development organization and fitting into a Vietnamese team culture. I have loved every moment, learnt a lot about global health, the challenges facing children in Vietnam, how an non-governmental organization (NGO) operates, stakeholder management, development of promotional material and how change agile I really am…and so on.
As well as taking lots with me, I am hopefully leaving behind resources that will help Save the Children (SC) engage corporate donors, yearly calendar will help for social media post, and also developed broacher for the communes.
Last week I was in field trip with Health and Nutrition team in Tram Tau District for the Launching of Behavior Change Communication Campaign sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. Tram Tau is a mountainous district in the North West of Vietnam and also one of the poorest, it is home to mainly H’Mong and Thai ethnic minorities. Here the landscape is breath taking, clouds touch the mountain tops, with rice, corn and tea plantations, but living here comes with serious challenges. The majority of the roads are only accessible by motorbike or on foot, the nearest health centers are long distances away, most families make a living by farming, all of which is done by hand and the majority of food is kept to feed their family.
Home births without assistance from health staff are common, usually the father and another family member are present at the birth, this is partly due to local traditions and partly the difficulty of getting to the health center. If there are complications, they may try to get the mother to the health center or health workers can be called out to the home, but equipment is limited. After the birth mothers and babies may not leave the house for between 1-3 months due to local traditions. Rates of infections are high.
Being in the field has given me a deeper understanding of the situation and valuable insights from local people that I would not have gained from just reading reports and journals. This has helped me hugely when being back at my desk in the office, I also feel a lot more connected to what I am working on having met the people my work could impact.
I am so blessed to be given the chances to sharpen my skills and leaned new set of skills and help people in need. It is so rewarding and fulfilling every time when you know you are doing something good to the community. It’s one week until I return home and it’s with mixed feelings; sad as I have to say goodbye to the amazing team at SC and the work that I have become very attached to but ever grateful to have had this opportunity. These types of experiences are designed to take you out of your comfort zone and open your eyes to new perspectives and you have the chance to change yourself ,to change community and change GSK and more. So BYE BYE….