A Metal Container is the "Clinic"

by Joachim Panhans,  2007/05/23

This relief mission wouldn't have been possible without the help from our friends from MercyAir.

(RP) Nurse Hiltrud Ritter was in Mozambique for the organization humedica. The 46-year-old reported on her experiences in southeast Africa. She would like to continue helping by working abroad once a year.

Rheinische Post from March 6, 2007

Hiltrud Ritter leaned back. „I’m still not yet really back, “she said. A few days ago she returned from Mozambique. The 46-year-old wasn’t on vacation, but rather had supported a medical team from “humedica” in treating flood victims in the northwest part of the Republic of Mozambique.

One definitely got the feeling that she had experienced first-hand the full extent of the disaster. Even her photos show the unthinkable: water everywhere - even there, where villages comprised of snugly-positioned straw houses once stood. One can imagine from this sight that here, countless people either lost their lives or found themselves in extreme distress.

It appears that the nurse from the local Johanniter-Krankenhaus (Johanniter Hospital) keeps visualizing her recent experiences. She was with the charity organization “humedica” for almost two weeks. “The experiences are simply overwhelming,” she explains and tells of a group of mothers with children in the shadow of a tree, who had hoped to receive relief from their suffering. In the middle was Hiltrud Ritter.

Discussions with the survivors of the flood were difficult. “First our translator translated our English directions into Portuguese and then into the tribal languages,” explained Ritter. Distributing medicine, giving infusions or treating wounds were the main tasks. Drinking water and corn were also distributed. The committed woman pointed out that not all of the people there were sick or injured because of the flood. Many were sick or injured before-hand.

Severe dysentery, worm problems and malaria cause the people, even during normal times, a lot of suffering. The flood just made the already difficult living conditions worse. A simple metal container and a blanket were the “clinic”. Out in the open, people were cared for in the refugee camp in Caia. “I looked into many thankful eyes,” says the nurse. The goal of the operation was providing basic care to the victims – and even that was only a drop in the bucket. “It may sound odd, but I really enjoyed my work there,” said Ritter. She would like to work on assignment with “humedica” again in the future.

But she also understands that she could be called up at a moment’s notice. “The call came at 11:00 a.m. At 8:00 p.m. we were sitting in the airplane,” she remembers. “I don’t know how much time it will take for me to process what I’ve experienced.” But, reflected the nurse, she will always keep the gratitude she received with her.

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