Welfare teams in Vietnam

The New Zealand government sent troops to join the Allied Forces in Vietnam in 1963, which sparked mass public protests in New Zealand. In 1967 the New Zealand Red Cross Society unanimously decided to send a welfare team to South Vietnam.

After a rigorous selection process five candidates were chosen; team leader Chris Bowden, agriculture and animal husbandry adviser Jerry Talbot, nurse Moya McTamney, vocational guidance officer and official photographer Bob Wright and sanitation adviser and transport officer David Harper.

Chris Bowden and Jerry Talbot, the future Secretary General, both left for Saigon on 31 January 1968. However they were grounded in Singapore after the airport in Saigon was closed. They quickly set to work helping out Singapore Red Cross at the Changi Crippled Children's Hospital painting fences, sorting toys and endearingly being called Uncle Chris and Uncle Jerry by the children.

On the team's arrival to An Khe, their base for the next six months, they were met by 5,140 refugees in six different camps.

Overall, six individual welfare teams were sent to Vietnam that included aid workers in the areas of health, water and sanitation, agriculture and animal husbandry and education and rehabilitation.

The teams were involved in caring for the needs of refugees, public health programmes and immunising livestock against disease.