For me the last couple of days have been excellent as there have been great photo opportunities in both Sa Pa and Bac Ha, and the weather was really good, as opposed to Hanoi where it rained quite hard, the remnants of the Super Hurricane. Agaan the long trip home on the train through the night. I sleep fairly well for the 8 hour trip but Anh points there had been some rock falls that we were lucky didn’t make it as far as the track. As we start to come through Hanoi it is amazing how close the tracks are to the houses in the city. In fact we can see straight into peoples homes, in fact I feel if they left a window open it would hit the train.
We arrive and it is drizzling rain and I think what a great opportunity of photos of Hanoi in the rain. We get back to the hotel for around 7am decide to get breakfast and a rest and I plan to head out then for a few quicks shots. We are due to head out to one of the provinces for the opening of a chapter of the association, a two hour drive there and another two back, but this is cancelled and meetings later in the afternoon are arranged. Anyway I get up and hope to get my rainy shots but when I look out the sun is shining, the storm is passed and heading to China!
A meeting in the afternoon and we are invited to Prof Tri’s house for dinner with his family. Again a lovely meal and evening. Now to get packed for the long trip home tomorrow, so early to bed for a good sleep. But I wake up at midnight with a terrible pain in my back, I just can’t find anyway to lie comfortably, sO I take an injection hoping it’s a bleed and will heal overnight. I don’t get much sleep but after a few hours the pain subsides it must have been a bleed, never had one there before!
Another nice breakfast in the hotel. We are staying in a nice boutique hotel on the outskirts of the old town in Hanoi. Brian has used this chain a number of times and stayed in a number of them and they are all very good. The back is getting better but still a few tweeks of pain, I’ll take another shot before flying. This morning I have the final photography workshop but it gets cut short as we have a final and concluding meeting. A quick lunch and off to the airport for me and I will be home in about 24 hours!
Another really great trip. The people of Vietnam are friendly, Hanoi has a real buzz about it, and I love the food although there are a few things you have to be weary of. Our hosts have been fantastic, they have looked after us fantastically, feeding us great food, entertaining us, and showing off their beautiful country of which they are rightly proud.
From a haemophilia treatment point of view they have huge challenges. It reminds me of how things were in the 1960’s in Ireland. The sad thing though is that there is excellent treatment available in the world but it is not available freely in Vietnam. Consequently the hospital is filled with patients many sleeping two to a bed. They have injuries and consequences from bleeds that just would not happen in Ireland, in fact a donation of treatment by us almost certainly saved the life of one person with haemophilia while we are here.
In Ireland we have treatment available in our homes that we can self administer at the first inkling of a bleed, or in fact that is administered, in the case of children and teenagers prophylactically, to prevent any joint damage. This is just an option here, consequently long distances may need to be travelled to get treatment which in itself is not adequate enough. This means that many people with haemophilia are seriously immobile, miss a lot of school because of this, and therefore cannot get jobs thus left in a position of near or actual poverty. None-the-less the doctors, nurses, staff, haemophiliacs and their families remain hugely positive in the face of such adversity and continue to fight to improve their position. It is our hope that we can help in some way through our efforts of twinning with the Vietnamese Haemophilia Association (VHA). We continue to work with them and try to find funds for programmes such as creating some jobs, teaching English in order to improve their opportunities of employment and to fund minor alterations at some of their homes to make life safer for them and to prevent accidents. The IHS also continues to work with VHA to help them with their organisation, to provide a better service and to advocate for better treatment.
Good bye Vietnam, thank you so much for making me feel so welcome and looking after me. I hope to return again some day.