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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many volunteers make up a team?

Ideally, 16 volunteers:-

·       1 trip Leader

·       4 dental clinicians

·       2 final year dental students

·       5 dental assistants/helpers

·       1 handyman

·       2 interpreters and

·       1 medical doctor.

Q: Where does CHAT work?

Our base is in Ho Chi Minh City, but most often CHAT travels to work in country provinces in South or Central Vietnam. We treat children and their carers at their schools, institutions, orphanages or community centres.  As such, our equipment is portable and all our dental requirements are taken with us on location. We determine a suitable room or out on a veranda to set up our dental clinic.

Q: How many patients will I be seeing?

Our aim is to triage up to 120 patients a day with an unpredictable proportion needing dental treatment. Some areas have better dental health than others. How many patients you as a dentist will treat will depend on experience, adaptability and how well you are coping with the tropical weather. If you consider yourself to be a slow worker, let your Leader know.

Q: How long is a CHAT trip?

A trip totals 8 days duration – Saturday to Saturday inclusive.

·       1st Saturday, we check equipment and supplies in readiness for the working week.

·       Sunday is travel time to a designated country work location.

·       Monday to Friday are clinical days.

·       2nd Saturday, we check equipment, repack and prepare to re-order materials in preparation for the next CHAT trip.


Q: How much does a CHAT trip cost?

All volunteers are self funded. The major cost is for air travel, which varies according to the chosen airline (i.e. budget or standard), time of year and/or if a special deal is available.

Costs include:

·       CHAT membership and ground costs ($250)

·       accommodation (allow $50 - $60 per day – you can share rooms to reduce cost)

·       meals (allow $20/$30 per day)

·       passport (if new required)

·       visa

·       travel insurance

·       immunization – check with your family doctor

·       clinical items (e.g. gloves, masks) and

·       spending money.

Q: What do ground costs cover?
Your $230 ground costs go towards the payment for CHAT bus hire, food and bottled drinks while working, 3 CHAT polo shirts, donation to poorly funded institutions that we visit.  We buy dental supplies for the trip to be used, analgesics, antibiotics.

Q: Does CHAT organize my travel and accommodation?

It’s your responsibility to arrange travel to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and the required visa and travel insurance.

CHAT will arrange travel within Vietnam – usually this is hired bus travel. 

Accommodation on arrival in HCMC, this is booked by you at Tuong Vi Hotel, District 10 (close by CHAT HQ). You may book accommodation elsewhere, and if so, you must be at Tuong Vi Hotel or CHAT HQ at the time advised by your leader to meet with other trip volunteers. During the clinical week (Sunday night to Thursday night), CHAT organizes hotel accommodation for all volunteers. You will pay your own hotel costs. Occasionally we will advise you to book yourself and nominate a hotel near where you will be working.  The team MUST stay together at one hotel.

On return to HCMC on Friday night, volunteers must arrange their own accommodation – either at Tuong Vi Hotel or elsewhere.

Q: Can I bring my children?
On agreement of their parent/guardian, mature children 15 years and older are able to join a CHAT trip in the role as a dental assistant helper. Each volunteer must have an active role – and as such, prior to departure, be prepared to arrange to gain basic dental assisting experience.

Q: What happens if I pay to join a CHAT trip and then can’t go?

In this event, the membership fee you’ve paid is not refundable.

For paid ground costs a volunteer has the options to either

1.       Join a trip within the next 12 months

2.       Elect to donate their ground costs fee to the work of CHAT.

Any other associated costs incurred will not be refunded – such as visa, flight changes, etc.

Q: Is there vegetarian or vegan food available?

Yes there is in the form of soy beancurd or tofu, also gluten which is often made up in the shape of meat (mock meat).  You need to check your vegan/vegetarian pho or noodles are not in beef soup though. To supplement your protein, you can buy nuts, lotus seeds, pumpkin seeds etc in supermarkets to eat.  There is a vegetarian restaurant round the corner from HQ.

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