Vietnam Mission Marks 16 Years of Volunteer Service by Dr. Williams
It was late March 1998 when Dr. Geoff Williams was invited by a team of his Taiwanese mentors to join them in a free cleft palate mission to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
“There was an incident during that 1998 mission that caused me to think about entering full-time volunteer service in the developing world,” begins Dr. Williams. “Our team had only planned on three days of surgery and was overwhelmed by 200 Vietnamese mothers and their deformed children.
“There was an initial melee by the mothers to get a place in line. We were able to treat only about 20 patients and had to turn away roughly 180 mothers in that mission. The sadness of turning away these poor mothers inspired me to turn my career into a career of volunteer work in poor countries, which I have been doing full-time now for nearly 11 years.”
April’s cleft palate mission to Hai Phong Children’s Hospital, Dr. Williams’ eighteenth to that institution, saw ICSF treat 30 children ranging from four months to seven years of age. The medical team consisted of three doctors and two nurses from the United States and the Philippines. Consistent with one of ICSF’s chief goals, roughly 60 hours of one-on-one intraoperative teaching to Vietnamese doctors was accomplished.