Bringing Mercy to Motion (Vietnam)

DANANG, VIETNAM (27.02.2007) - While Columbia was experiencing 15 inches of snow a few months back, a team of Boone county volunteers was dealing with a typhoon on the other side of the world.


At just three miles per hour, about the speed of a brisk walk, the PET is a patient pace. But one these people have waited for their entire lives. For every story about an amputee who no longer uses stools to walk. Or a 9 year old boy who might now be able to go to school. There's another story, about the people who set mercy in motion, Steve Baima is a Boone county cattle farmer who traveled to Vietnam as part of a team that distributed pets to those with good upper body strength and traditional wheel-chairs to those without.
Baima is the volunteer director of PET International, the umbrella organization for the 14 different PET workshops around the world, including the first one that started in Columbia, MO.

"It's very difficult to describe in detail what it is that we do. But I carry this card and it pretty much tells the story," Baima said.
A story he shared with his cousin Vee, from Ashland.

"That just blew me away and I feel real privileged to be part of the team," said Vee Fasciotti, volunteer.
And Lynn from Wisconsin also is holding out hope.

"I just think the mom and dads. The eyes in the mom and dads. It's like this is hope," said Lynn Ross, volunteer.
"It's very humbling to see someone who's had to carry their children for years, since they were born," said Gene Shisler, volunteer.
There are more than 20 members on this distribution team. Over the last four days, many of them haven't gotten more than a couple hours sleep. It took the Missouri team 65 hours just to get to Vietnam.

"There is a typhoon bearing down on Danang right now, yet canceling this distribution isn't an option," said Sarah Hill reporting from Vietnam."
"The typhoon was just offshore and the possibility of high winds and we're outside," said Larry Hills, PET volunteer.
What this team didn't know was that a deadly typhoon was headed its way. Typhoon Durian would go on to kill 100 people, mostly in coastal villages.

"We're here and there's a group here expecting mobility and one way or another we'll provide that," Steve Baima said.
The group set up tarps and watched as people needing mobility came crawling and being carried in the pouring rain. But many of these volunteers have faced something far more difficult than the weather.

"...A series of experiences during the Vietnam war that in some way wanted to make atonement for," said Tim Dieffenbacher, Vietnam veteran.

Dieffenbacher has been coming back to Vietnam for 11 years, helping fit Vietnamese children with wheel-chairs and landmine victims with PETs. Some of them, former Viet Cong soldiers.

"I don't bear him any grudge. I think we all can take a look at the fact that war is hell," Dieffenbacher said.
And it's not just war or the weather, communication is also a little hazy.

"Communication difficulty and the translation process," Baima said.

So it's difficult to ask a mother about a child's pain and when a translator's not available, these volunteers use body language like a pat on the back, or a squeeze of the hand. But for Lynn Ross, her situation requires no translation. They know she understands.

"I think because of my disability being a wheelchair user it shows people what they can do," said Lynn Ross, volunteer. "I think seeing someone there who is a chair user, seeing me serving them also gives them that dignity. Being able to look at them and tell they do have value. That they are somebody."

"The reward you receive when you see those faces never gets old," said Val Brummel, of Hope Haven International. From the hands of those who build them, box them, pair them, and share them it takes many hands to set mercy in motion. And many more to keep lifting lives.

Von: 27.02.2007

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