Kimberly Kamara is a program manager based in ORBIS's New York Office.
I recently travelled to Vietnam to work with our Vietnam office. Part of my role is to provide programmatic support to our country office teams. According to Huong Tran, ORBIS’s Deputy Director of South Asia programs, the best way to learn about the organization is to see the projects directly and participate in activities. So as a team, we went to the city of Hue to visit ORBIS’s key partners in Vietnam: Hue Eye Hospital (HEH) and Hue Central Hospital (HCH). Partnerships like these are essential to ORBIS’s work across the globe.
At HEH, I had the opportunity to see the child-friendly pediatric eye clinic that was developed with ORBIS’s support. The exterior is painted blue with bright images and pictures drawn by local artists. On the inside, there is a play area for children and a trained staff of eight ready to treat all pediatric cases in the nearby provinces. With the help of ORBIS, it is now the only Pediatric Eye Unit in the country with a dedicated team to pediatric eye care.
The other partner in this project is the HCH. Thanks to ORBIS support, it is the only ophthalmology unit in Central Vietnam that can conduct ROP screenings and treatment. At the hospital, I had the opportunity to watch a tiny premature baby receive his follow-up screening post ROP treatment.
The ORBIS project with HEH and HCH is coming to an end, however, it has been determined that in order to ensure sustainability and build upon acquired skills, the collaboration should continue into a second phase. I joined the Vietnam team in leading a workshop to determine the best initiatives for phase two of the project.
Huong led the team through a presentation of successes and lessons learned from this initiative. The partners collaborated in small groups to create a “problem tree” to identify the biggest challenges encountered during the first phase of this project. Using the challenges identified, the group worked together to determine and prioritize potential solutions for even greater success in the next phase.
What impressed me most about this collaboration was the close relationship formed between ORBIS staff and our partners. Our partners are so eager to learn and make their institutions stronger. This bottom up approach, driven by partner motivations for institutional success is remarkable. Even though the workshop was scheduled to finish at 4pm each day, the teams voluntarily stayed until 6pm refining and prioritizing their needs, as well as the collaboration that they could envision with ORBIS in Vietnam. There was genuine motivation to bring the child-friendly pediatric eye unit and the ROP screenings to their optimum potential.
I enjoyed seeing how proud our partners are, and how dedicated they are to improvement. The ORBIS Vietnam team welcomed me with open arms. They gave me the opportunity to truly understand the mission of ORBIS and see just how wonderful their staff and partners are.