On assignment: Rehabilitation therapist
MCC photo/Paul Bucher

Esther Bucher, left, and center staff member Trần Thị Như Ý work with Lê Nguyễn Bảo An as his grandmother Võ Thị Xuân watches. In the background are Trần Vạn Hiếu and his grandmother Bùi Thị Tí. 

“We feel so blessed to be able to be here now.”

Name: Esther H. Bucher

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia (Richmond Mennonite Fellowship)

Assignment: Rehabilitation therapist at the day centre of MCC partner Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam.

Typical day: After my husband Paul Bucher and I ride our motorbike to the centre, I begin therapy work with one of the children affected by Agent Orange, an herbicide used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War that has resulted in severe disabilities for many children and even grandchildren of those exposed to it. I pair up with a Vietnamese staff member, using activities to stretch each child’s skills and potential. No one is the same. After lunch with staff, we go home for a noon rest. In 30-plus temperatures and high humidity this is refreshing! Then I do more therapy activities, trainings or home visits in the afternoons.

MCC story: I worked with the Mennonite church and MCC in Vietnam from 1970 to 1974 while my husband did alternative service in Vietnam, then worked 27 years as an occupational therapist before returning to MCC.

Joys: When an idea or activity I’ve shared with staff, who are not professionally trained in rehabilitation, is tried and changes people’s way of experiencing their world.

Challenge: Limited language ability and at times feeling unable to explain or share ideas, particularly medical explanations.

What you can do

Encourage members of Congress to sponsor legislation addressing the devastation Agent Orange left behind, including cleaning up still-infected areas and providing health funding for multiple generations in Vietnam and the U.S. who live with disabilities caused by Agent Orange.

Make a difference