Join Our Spring Campaign! Make an Impact That Lasts a Lifetime →

Healing Across the Highlands: Serving Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam

Share this story

Meet Kinh, an Eight-Year-Old Child From the H’re Community

In central Vietnam, eight-year-old Kinh was born with a cleft lip and palate in the Lang Teng hamlet of Quang Ngai. Kinh and his family are part of the H’re community, one of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups. The H’re have thrived on these mountainsides for millennia, cultivating rice and maintaining a rich tapestry of customs and religious practices.

Additionally, Kinh’s family shares a compound where his grandmother’s traditional wooden home on stilts stands proudly next to a contemporary concrete family home where the two younger generations live. Daily life revolves around the rhythm of agriculture and family. Therefore, Kinh’s mother tends to their water buffalo before shepherding Kinh and his sister to school each morning, returning home for lunch and back again in the afternoon.

Healing Kinh’s Cleft Lip and Palate

However, life presented its challenges early on for Kinh and his family, with his mother discovering that Kinh had a cleft lip and palate at birth. Not only did his cleft alter his appearance – it also severely affected his speech, and ability to eat, casting a shadow of malnutrition over his early years.

Kinh’s life was transformed when he received free reconstructive surgery from ReSurge International. The emotional journey for his mother, from the initial shock of seeing her son post-operation to the overwhelming joy of his recovery–was profound. For example, today, Kinh is actively attending school. He enjoys playing games and helping his mother and grandmother with the water buffalo.

Yet, Kinh’s story is an exception in a region where accessing reconstructive surgical care is difficult to come by. The remote geography, language, and cultural barriers create significant obstacles. 

For context, ReSurge International has been bridging this gap for two decades, working closely with local surgeons, health ministries, and children’s welfare departments. The aim goes beyond mere surgical provision; it involves pinpointing patients in the most remote regions and guaranteeing their sustained access to care through local capacity building and training.

A New Path Towards Sustainability

In October 2023, ReSurge International and partner surgeon Dr. Hau Trung, established a formal partnership with the Hue Odonto-Stomatology Hospital, and the Hue Provincial Department of Health. These collaborations are set to raise the bar for patient care and establish a ReSurge training hub in the region. At this center, Dr. Hau and ReSurge’s medical volunteers will guide the next generation of Vietnamese surgeons and trainees from visiting low- and middle-income countries. Their teaching will include and extend beyond cleft repairs, covering an extensive range of surgical procedures such as breast cancer reconstruction and microsurgery. This initiative is poised to significantly improve access to surgical care for patients like Kinh, ensuring they receive the treatment they need closer to home, throughout the year.

A Clear Vision Ahead

Meet Hue, a Young Woman From Tra Thuy Co

For Hue, a young woman from a neighboring community, Tra Thuy Co, the impact of these new training initiatives hit close to home. Hue and her daughter Thu, attended one of the first Surgical Team Training Trips of the new partnership this October. 

A cassava farmer, widow, and single mother, Hue cares fiercely for her two children. Hue has ptosis, a condition where the eyelids droop and severely impact her vision. Hue’s children have the same condition. Isolated from healthcare, the possibility of treatment seemed distant for Hue until she learned through her daughter’s school about a program offering free reconstructive surgery. This opportunity was part of a broader awareness campaign by the Children’s Welfare Department of Quang Ngai and ReSurge International.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Motivated by the hope of her daughter, Thu, being able to see properly for the first time, Hue packed their bags and boarded a bus to Quang Ngai Hospital, where they joined 130 other hopefuls seeking surgical treatment. It was there that moment ReSurge Surgical Partner, Dr. Hau Trung revealed that not only her daughter but Hue herself was a candidate for surgery. She hadn’t imagined a future where both her and her daughter could see clearly. 

However, both surgeries were a success.

The Children’s Social Welfare Department estimates that around 3,000 children in Quang Ngai province face similar conditions to that of both Hue and Kinh. Program Director, Dinh Duy Long urges that, “everyone deserves good care, no matter who or where they are.” 

Moreover, Hue’s story isn’t just about receiving free surgery; it represents a learning cornerstone for local medical professionals. Young anesthesiologists, pediatricians, surgeons, and nurses all gained invaluable insights through observing her case. These young surgeons, under the guidance of Dr. Hau Trung and ReSurge Medical Volunteers, will go on to build up access to surgical care in their communities.

For Hue and Thu, it simply means seeing and being seen, perhaps for the very first time.

Share this story

Recent Stories

Memorable Moments from Mother’s Day

This past Mother’s Day weekend, we reflected on the mothers we see every day in our community. Mothers who make heartfelt sacrifices in hopes of securing surgical care for their...

Read More

A Clear Vision Ahead

Meet Hue, a Young Woman From Tra Thuy Co For Hue, a young woman from a neighboring community, Tra Thuy Co, the impact of these new training initiatives hit close...

Read More

We are grateful for our opportunity to touch the lives of those needing surgical treatment worldwide and grow sustainable systems for local surgical teams in low-income countries. However, we cannot make an impact without your support. Donate today to create a ripple effect that changes the world through life-changing, no-cost reconstructive surgeries.

Spring Into Action

Your contribution today will enable patients like Luz Dariana to thrive. Together, we can bring hope, healing, and transformation to patients in need around the world!

Jacob Youssef Samuel - Burn Survivor

Make Your Year-End Gift

Join us in transforming lives through reconstructive surgical care.
Any gift made before Jan. 1st is doubled with a 2X match!