Meet the Volunteers
Project HOPE volunteers helped provide health care to more than 5000 on a recent mission in Vietnam.
Project HOPE volunteers helped support the Pacific Air Force’s medical operation Pacific Angel (PACANGEL) in Vietnam in June. U.S. Air Force and Project HOPE health care practitioners, optometrists, pediatricians, nurse midwives and health conducted several community outreach programs which provided care to more than 5,400 women, children and men.
Project HOPE Volunteer Dr. Katherine Bowen has 30+ years of Pediatric medicine practice to her credit after graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine. She’s also an associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Bowen worked disaster relief operations in Louisiana’s St. Bernard’s Parish the Public Health Service in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “I came to Vietnam to experience varied and culturally dissimilar healthcare and medical issues there are in this tropical setting,” she said. “I wanted to experience working with different populations to see similarities and differences in their healthcare systems.” This is Dr. Bowen’s second Project HOPE mission. She was aboard the USS Peleliu in 2007 (a US Navy amphibious assault ship, named for the World War II Battle of Peleliu in the Marshall Islands) supporting Pacific Command’s Pacific Partnership annual Humanitarian and Civic Assistance operations.
Dr. James Honl, OD, is a seasoned Project HOPE volunteer. Dr. Honl participated in the 2004 Great Indonesia Earthquake/Tsunami relief operation with Project HOPE and the U.S. Navy aboard the USNS MERCY 1,000 bed hospital ship. Jim became well known for how efficient and productive he was in conducting eye examinations. He’s personally contacted each year by Project and asked to participate in various operations. Dr. Honl previously completed missions in Indonesia, Vietnam and Mongolia. Interestingly, Dr. Honl served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army during the “War Years of 1968”. He practiced optometry service in the U.S. Army for 10-years. “To me, it’s just exciting and interesting and always an adventure,” Dr Honl said. “We really help people out. I like that.” This is Dr. Honl’s fourth mission with Project HOPE.
Project HOPE volunteer Ha Nguyen is a Certified Nurse Midwife born in Vietnam and educated in the United States. Ha served as an indispensable member of the Project HOPE team as the only Vietnamese native speaker. She grew up in the city of Saigon but moved to the U.S. in 1989. Ha earned her professional degree from Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, California. “I came back to help the Vietnamese people and exchange clinical knowledge,” she said. Ha, like many clinical practitioners, has to take unpaid vacation days in order to participate in volunteer activities. Ms Nguyen’s been trying for 3-years to clear her professional schedule and gain approval from her workplace to participate in a Vietnam health care operation.
Certified Nurse Midwife Ms. Ann Russell is an 39-year health care veteran. She began her women’s health career in international medicine while serving in the US Peace Corps in 1973 and 1974. Following her Peace Corps international experience, she earned a Master’s Degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She’s provided care in countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Indonesia. Ann exemplifies the Project HOPE volunteer…”My motivation is to help teach and train to prevent maternal and child death with our Vietnamese counterparts,” she said. Project HOPE is at its core a health education capacity building NGO. This is Ann’s second Project HOPE mission. She was aboard the USNS Comfort on a tour of Central and South America a few years ago supporting Southern Command’s Continuing Promise annual Humanitarian and Civic Action operations.
Dr. Aaron Tarbett, OD, an optometrist, always has a smile on his face, especially when he’s caring for Vietnamese patients. Dr. Tarbett has been practicing optometry at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for 12- years. He earned his optometry degree from Ohio State University and his undergraduate degree from the University of Akron. “It’s nice to give back to humanity at large and help the less fortunate,” he said. “I am interested in the country of Vietnam and the history we have there. I wanted to meet the people and experience the country’s landscapes. Vietnam is truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I also confirmed the Vietnamese people are one of the kindest, gentlest, hardworking and uncomplaining peoples I’ve ever met.” This is Dr. Tarbett’s first mission with Project HOPE. Aaron’s parting words…”I shall return.”
First time Project HOPE volunteer Alice Taylor, a Certified Nurse Midwife, mentioned she’s been looking to re-enter international health care practice for decades. Alice served in the US Peace Corps in the Philippines in 1971 before she had four boys of her own. While developing her career and caring for 4-boys, Alice acquired her Master’s degree in Public Health and Maternal Child Health from Columbia University. Alice has been practicing medicine for 37-years in rural Oregon. “My motivation for coming to Vietnam was to provide health care for Vietnamese women and enjoy the adventure and camaraderie of working in the Pacific Angel program with host nation health care providers,” she said. “Being able to do this with my husband and son involved in the mission seems to recall the early history of family’s deploying globally onboard the SS HOPE in the early sixties.”
Dr. Laurence “Ted” Taylor, a first-time Project HOPE volunteer, has been practicing family medicine for over 30-years in rural Oregon. Dr. Taylor was a natural fit for the pediatrics unit of the Pacific Angel mission to Vietnam. He earned his medicine degree from the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. “I specialize in rural health care in the United States and thought my medicine skills and experience would make a contribution in less developed countries of the world” he said. “It’s wonderful to explore different cultures while providing humanitarian assistance. The Vietnamese people were wonderful to work with.”