Friday, April 28, 2006

Aceh smiles...

*J'etais a Aceh! I volunteered in the Singapore Red Cross’ Medical Relief Mission (Team 10) to the tsunami affected region of Meulaboh, Aceh, Indonesia [10th - 19th May 2005]

Adeline, Sahari & I revamped the PMI (Indonesian Red Cross)-Singapore Red Cross 24-hour Free Clinic in the Int'l Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Camp. We sorted the medicine (previously jumbled up in big containers) and set up a mini pharmacy in the clinic. We bought the necessary equipments (basins, trays, chairs etc) and medicine for the clinic. With Sahari's experience in setting up clinics, we managed to turn a simple make-shift clinic to a "modern" clinic nicknamed "Klinik Harapan" (Hope Clinic). We also taught some basic healthcare and hygiene to the paramedics and PMI volunteers at the clinic.

As many as 100+ patients visited the clinic everyday; some patients came from as far as Nagaraya (2 hours car ride away). We also treated the villagers & 3 PMI volunteers who were involved in road accidents; only to send some to the hospital as we didn't have X-rays and other equipments. Most of our patients suffered from itchness (rashes), perhaps from the dirty water they used to bath and wash their clothes; headaches, fever, "perut kembung" (due to gas in the stomach) and cough. A number of them have been treated for wounds from nail punctures and other cuts and bruises. Some still suffered from trauma caused by the tsunami. Due to lack of manpower, we could only go on 2 rounds of mobile clinics to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) barracks.

The Acehnese are indeed strong people. I've never seen so much politeness, hope and smiles. They remain positive even in dire straits. Even the volunteers at our clinic used humour to lighten up everyone's spirit! Despite the 42 degree celsius heat, everyone managed to laugh and remain cheerful.

Adeline & I left Meulaboh with heavy hearts. However, we're glad that we managed to set up the basic infrastructure for the clinic. We hope the Singapore Red Cross teams will continue to uphold and improve on the quality of the clinic to make it the best in Meulaboh, Banda Aceh and some say Sumatra :)

A message from the Acehnese: "Terima kasih kerana membantu orang Aceh" (Thank you for helping the Aceh people). They appreciate all your support, donations and prayers for the tsunami victims.

Dr. Hidayah Amin, MD (Meulaboh) *lol.... Harvard Medical School, here I come!

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