Ca Mau is about an eight-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. We started out at 1:30 PM and arrived at our hotel after 10:00 PM. We stopping for dinner along the way. We were up early at 6:00 AM to enjoy a quick breakfast before meeting the representatives of the Ca Mau women's union, the group that organized our trip. We then drove another one-and-a-half hours into a village; our seminar was held in a local meeting space.
Our journey into the village took us through very narrow roads bordered by sugarcane fields;
past newly planted rice fields,
and across many small bridges and tiny rivers.
Mr. Sy was the main speaker for our seminar. His primary focus was on good parenting techniques, child psychology at each development stage, and ways to help each child succeed in school and life. His engaging delivery was coupled with group activities to increase audience participation and ensure that his message was received.
Dr. Phuong Nguyen, OB/GYN, was the next speaker for Saturday. She shared her experience and advice for prenatal care and the importance of the first few weeks before and during pregnancy.
She then opened up the discussion to audience for an hour-long Q&A session related to OB/GYN. This was highly appreciated by the villagers, as opportunities to discuss such matters with an OB/GYN doctor from the States are few and far between.
I followed up with a session on self care for women and the prevention of some common women's personal hygiene problems.
I observed in the local area a trend towards using douche and feminine washes; this practice is advertised everywhere and is prescribed commonly by local doctors. I spent part of my talk explaining the benefits of abandoning such cleansing products.
Seeing how receptive the audience was to the idea of asking questions during Dr. Phuong's presentation, I opted to hold Q&A session around general women's health and hygiene.
As culture dictates, Vietnamese women tend to be extremely shy about women's health matters. I got around this by enforcing upfront the fact that I've been trained in the States and that there is nothing they could ask that could embarrass me. I then started calling on individuals who looked like they had a question but were hesitant to ask.
Mr. Sy concluded the seminar with a session on the OBV mission. He discussed the sex trafficking of young children and gave case examples of sex trafficking that occurred in Ca Mau. His talk emphasized the prevention of sex trafficking, the signs and symptoms a child will often exhibit after sexual abuse, and how OBV can help these children.
At the end, each participant was left with informational brochures and our contact information for free family counseling and help for cases of child sexual abuse and trafficking.
by Thuy Do