I visited Vietnam in 1998, 2000 and 2003. Each time I had a opportunity to work alongside Vietnamese monks at the clinic run by the Catholic Seminary in the small town of Bien-hoa, a thirty-minute drive from Saigon.
The entire clinic is supported by charitable donations and serves villagers from the southern part of Vietnam. The treatments are communal; it’s a common practice in Asian culture is to treat many patients in a large room with beds next to one another. Families are present also and involved in the healing process. A similar process is gaining in popularity in the United States, as can e seen at the Working Class Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Portland, Oregon.
Usually a family member brings the patient to the clinic. If they live far away, room and board arrangements are made with the Seminary for a stay of several weeks.
Monks and nuns are trained in Chinese Medicine and Herbology with some practitioners having a medical degree. The most common cases treated at the clinic are physical paralysis. Treatments consisted of acupuncture, electrical acupuncture and herbs.
The dedication of the monks to serve the people is admirable as the clinic was overcrowded, understaffed and displayed heart-wrenching human suffering everyday. Yet, you could hear laughter and sometimes singing.
Communication in Vietnamese was translated through my kind, dedicated husband.
All three of my experiences in Vietnam were truly inspiring for me, showing me how the attitude you bring to a treatment as a healer can have a crucial influence and how Chinese Medicine can serve even in the most dire of conditions.