We hosted our parent program for the Binh Thanh School for Hearing Impaired Children on the 11th floor of our own hotel. The school’s permit doesn’t allow for gatherings there after the school day. I set up a sign in the lobby directing people to the 11th floor but the logistics were a bit tricky because one had to take the elevator to the 10th floor and walk up the stairs to the 11th. My concerns that parents wouldn’t find us were relieved when they started coming in to the meeting room just before the 6 pm start time. Some were shy, some wore grateful smiles, and some carried a bit of anxiety with them…but the fact that the 30+ parents came at all was a wonderful testament to the innate nature of most parents – to do the best they can to help their children Vietnam’s culture is such that parents are not really encouraged to participate in their children’s education – that this is the job of the teachers. Since parents and families are the ones that spend the most time with a child in most situations, it is important they know how they can help their child develop language and cognitive skills.

Several teachers joined the meeting as well – including a handful all the way from Dalat. One of the teachers, Sau, took initiative to direct traffic upstairs to our meeting room from the lobby. She even created a sign to post on a tree outside on the street. I found out about this the next day and was just so touched by Sau’s thoughtfulness and support.

There have been many instances of people offering up their support to our efforts here. One ouf our interpreters, Ms Gai, normally charges an hourly rate to provide intepretation services. For us, she said, no…what you are doing to help deaf children and their familes is important I don’t want any payment. She not only worked the parent program, but also two days at Binh Thanh and at our Saturday lecture in HCMC. I finally convinced her to accept a stipend for her wonderful efforts and generousity of time and spirit.

Binh Thanh School for Hearing Impaired Children sits on a busy street in Ho Chi Minh City’s district 3. Our agenda there was similar to that of Dalat with Jane and Joanne leading audiology lecture and training and fitting of young children with hearing aids. Judy, Lea, and Charlotte led lecture and practicum with teachers and families about auditory-verbal practices and techniques. The school took a day off for our program’s teaching. On the next day, they had classes with the young children and our trio of professionals visited the classrooms and coached the teachers with their own children.

We had a visitng school located 4.5 hours away from Binh Thanh that sent 7 families to receive hearing aids. Our schedule was very tight with 5 other children already arranged for fitting on this day, but Jane and Joanne promised they would try to find the time to get all of them in. And..they did it……with the help of Sharad Govil, an audiologist from Phonak Asia and some trainees from Cat Tuong a distributor. After the 7 children were fit, they all returned to the room for a photo shoot that was just so endearing. The headmistress of the school caught me in the hallway and gave me the warmest hug in gratitude. It was a wonderful moment.

Sharad is volunteering his time to the Global Foundation and complements our A team with his valuable expertise. We are very grateful to Sharad and Phonak for donating 15 Naida hearing aids to our Mobile Mission efforts.

On Friday, Thuy and I met with Ms Ha, the newly appointed dean of the special education department at HCMC University. We reviewed our program’s success to date over a cup of tea and talked about some potential ideas for furthering our collaboration. From there, we headed down the hall to meet with the vice president of the university who is responsible for foreign relations. HCMC University works with 17 other universities around the world, including a few in the United States, to provide distance learning,, student exchange, and training programs. It is exciting to think about possibilities to expand our efforts in Vietnam.

Saturday was our lecture to over 200 medical professionals, teachers, education students, and families at a center in Ho Chi Minh City. Cochlear Asia and Cat Tuong wer the main supporters of this event. It was a great success and our team did a terrific job sharing their expertise with the broader community.