Charity clinic inside a Ho Chi Minh City pagoda

Van Tho pagoda on Hoang Sa road, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City is a free clinic treating bone and joint-related diseases for free. The charitable clinic was established by venerable monk Thich Thanh Son to cure poor patients suffering from arthritis and bone diseases. The clinic also provides training in traditional medicine.

The clinic treats bone diseases with Thich Thanh Son’s remedies using zedoary and some other medicinal herbs. At the clinic, each patient is given a form to fill out with their name, residence and symptoms which will be later recorded in a book for monitoring their developments throughout the course of treatment. After being carefully examined by Thich Thanh Son, the patient will be given treatment as instructed by the monk.

Every day, about 200-300 people go to the clinic, many of whom have recovered. The reputation of Thich Thanh Son has spread outside Ho Chi Minh City. Lots of patients from Ben Tre, Dong Nai, Long An and Dong Thap provinces have visited Van Tho pagoda to receive the monk’s treatment.

Van Tho pagoda located at No.247, Hoang Sa road, district 1,
near Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe canal, is a free clinic for local people.

The monks of the pagoda,who received training at medical schools, are good herbalists.

Duc Nguyen treats a patient.

Giving treatment to a patient suffering from backbone disease.

Dressing the wound for a patient.

The clinic specializes in treatment of bone diseases, using Thich Thanh Son’s herbal remedies.

Patients of the clinic are mostly poor workers doing hard jobs who are exposed to bone injuries.

The pagoda receives 100-200 patients a day.

62-year-old Ho Thi Be from Tien Giang province, who suffered from a herniated disk, said her conditions were much better and she could walk right after the first treatment. Doctors had earlier advised Be to have surgery but she could not afford it.

In recent years, for health reasons, Thich Thanh Son rarely sees patients, but still gives information for remedies to the other monks. Many of them, including Trung Hao, Duc Nguyen and Duc Hoa, are good herbalists as they have received training at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy and Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine. Many Buddhist followers and volunteers also help the monks to pick up, cook and give herbs for patients.

Ginger is used as a medicine.

Preliminary processing of medicinal herbs.

Hoan ngoc (Pseuderanthemumpalatiferum), a precious herb grown in the pagoda’s garden.

The herb garden inside the pagoda.

Making herbal medicines.

Herbal wine used for massage.

If they want, the patients can donate money to the pagoda which will be used to buy medicinal herbs. The monks plant herbs in the pagoda’s garden and send precious varieties to other suitable places to grow them, such as Dong Nai and Lam Dong provinces.

Thich Thanh Son hopes his model of charity clinics will spread in the city to help needy patients.

Story: Nguyen Oanh -Photos: Dang Kim Phuong