Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2001

Traveling duo to lend helping hand in Vietnam

February 8, 2001

Two local women will soon get a chance to see the world while doing something good for their fellow man.

Linda Bock of Eudora and Ellen Bartz of Lawrence will travel to Vietnam on Feb. 11. The two will make the trip with Heart To Heart International, an Olathe organization that offers medical assistance to third-world countries. The organization will airlift medicine and supplies to hospitals and clinics in Vietnam.

Heart To Heart first airlifted supplies to Vietnam in April 1995, the 20th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. A nurse with 26 years of experience, Bock said the trip would be an extension of what the program started nearly six years ago.

"Basically, they're going to continue their work," Bock said. "I think it's kind of neat to get to see the needs you don't see here."

Heart To Heart volunteers will also deliver school supplies and rice.

Bock and Bartz plan to visit a leprosy village while in Vietnam. Though not medically trained, Bartz is looking forward to going and helping in any way she can.

"I have traveled pretty extensively in third-world countries," said Bartz, who works for a Lawrence travel agency. "The one thing I have realized through all my travels is I am really lucky. This is just a little something to pay back."

The purpose of the trip is to help others, but the two women are also excited about adding more stamps to their passports.

Bock and Bartz began traveling together seven years ago, after meeting through a mutual friend who knew of their love for travel. Together they have traveled to Panama, Costa Rica and through much of Europe. Heart To Heart's mission will take nine days, but the two will add six more days to visit Hong Kong, more of Vietnam and parts of Korea.

Comparing themselves to Oscar and Felix of television's "The Odd Couple," Bock said the two look at traveling differently.

"She wants the five-star hotel and I'm just happy if the cockroaches don't wake me in the night," Bock laughed.

With their extensive traveling, the two say they adapt easily to different cultures and look forward to new experiences.

"I wouldn't really say we get culture shock anymore," Bartz said.

"We get culture enrichment," Bock added.

Because of problems with Vietnam customs, clothing and food items cannot be taken into the country. Instead, the organization will take cash donations and purchase items after entering Vietnam. Heart To Heart can accept stickers, pens and similar items to give as gifts, customary to Vietnamese culture.

Anyone interested in donating may call (913) 764-5200.

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