This post is adapted from an original news story written by Friendship Village Physiotherapist Phan Van Thien.
Since opening its doors on March 18, 1998, the Vietnam Friendship Village (VFV) has stood as a living symbol of international friendship and solidarity. International support continues to make good things happen at the Friendship Village. Thanks to contributions from the State of Vietnam, the Veterans Association of Vietnam, the French Committee for the Vietnam Friendship Village, and the International School of Prague–Czech Republic, a 180-square-meter pool came online this spring, adding water therapy to the health care modalities used in treating Vietnam Friendshp Village residents, many of whom suffer from musculoskeletal disorders. The completion of the pool was celebrated with a first day of swimming enjoyed by all leaders, staff, veterans, and children of the Vietnam Friendship Village.
Director Dinh Van Tuyen welcomed the contractors and builders of the swimming pool to the official opening on May 7, 2015, and acknowledged them for quality assurance, and for completing the project on schedule. VFV medical center staff have been charged with receiving, managing and utilizing the pool for patients’ therapy needs, and improving their professional capacity to serve and care for veterans and children in this way. The pool area is divided into two parts, one for swimming and the other for exercise and therapy, and can accommodate between 8 to 10 patients at a time. To begin with, a timetable of weekly exercises has been created for veterans and children using the pool, and physiotherapist Phan Van Thien has completed training courses in aquatic therapy and in pool management.
Health benefits of aquatic rehabilitation described by Mr. Thien at the opening ceremony include muscle development, improved breathing, regulation of blood pressure, improved blood circulation and other cardiovascular benefits. He stressed that any aquatic therapy regimen should be guided by a doctor or physical therapist to ensure proper process and correct movements. Veronika, a German physiotherapist who has been providing services and training at the medical center, acknowledged VFV for its humanitarian work and welcomed the addition of aquatic therapy to the treatments and rehabilitative care available for patients. She and VFV medical staff, who already benefit professionally through exchange and sharing of expertise, look forward to developing new skills in the area of aquatic therapy.
Mr. Lo Minh Tien, a veteran from Son La Province who fought at Khe Xanh in Quang Tri Province in 1968, expressed thanks to the Vietnamese government , VAVN, and international partners for the chance to come to the Friendship Village for care, treatment, rest and relaxation. He said he never dreamed of receiving aquatic therapy, and remarked on how relaxing it was, saying it had eased his chronic headache and helped him sleep better. His wish was that many more veterans, and particularly the children at Friendship Village, would receive similar benefits from the pool.
A boy named Luong Nhat Tan, a third-generation victim Agent Orange/Dioxin (his grandfather was exposed during wartime), was happy to say that the swimming exercise helped him study better. He was also excited to be able to learn how to swim safely and how to use a lifejacket, because he was aware of several children in the countryside who had drowned in swimming accidents in ponds and lakes. Tan said looked forward to sharing his new water safety knowledge with friends when he returns home.
All of the children and veterans who take part in aquatic therapy are provided with buoys and lifejackets, and guided by professional physiotherapists. Everyone is very happy and excited to be able to swim and do aquatic exercises, especially in the hot weather. It was not surprising to hear that the atmosphere in the swimming pool is, in the words of our Vietnamese partners, “really joyful and noisy.”