The work of Mueller and Hueskes is financially supported by the Green Cross Switzerland, a non-governmental organisation that aims to help communities overcome the damage caused by industrial and military disasters.
According to US scientist Jeanne Meager Stellman, between 2.1 and 4.8 million people in Viet Nam have been exposed to the substance. Even the third generation after the war suffers the consequences, says Professor Tran Xuan Thu, spokesman for Viet NamAssociation of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA). "It is now known that dioxin acts like a hormone. It gets to the receptors in the cells of a developing foetus before the normal hormones and directs the cells to do abnormal things."
However, people are reluctant to talk about Agent Orange, even if it is one of the causes of their pain – the only thing important is how to relieve the agony. As Mueller says: "For us it is important to help, no matter if some kid falls off a motorbike or has a birth defect caused by Agent Orange."
He still sees a relation between his work and the war: "The war has destroyed the infrastructure and the healthcare system – we try and help to improve it."
Others go away unsure, like the teenager with the crooked legs who has to think about the risks of complicated surgery with no guarantees it will make him better. And some come back for follow-up examinations, like Tran Thi Ngoc Diep. Mueller performed surgery on the six-year-old in 2010 to try and correct her crooked legs that were preventing her from walking. Now she shows up to VIETCOT, standing proud on two straight legs, walking with no difficulties, like a little miracle.