„Even the Basics Are Lacking“

by Dr. Ulrich Seemann/DMO,  2008/09/29

Hambühren pediatrician Dr. Ulrich Seemann has been in Haiti for humedica since September 17. In the following report, he describes the dramatic situation there, as well as his impressions from the indispensible help by the humedica response teams:

„Although many towns in the inaccessible areas surrounding St. Marc are difficult to reach, thanks to the help of Dr. Dieudonne Battraville from the St. Marc board of health, we were successfully able to work. She helped us by pointing out where we could drive with our off-road vehicle.

The towns which were isolated from the floods are still cut off from the outside, and because of the new rainfall, an improvement in conditions does not look promising.

Dr. Seeman is highly dedicated to taking care of the children, who are frequently hungry and in bad physical condition. Photo: humedica.

The drives into the mountains with the ATV are very adventurous; the capabilities of these autos are amazing. The driving ability and courage of our driver deserve huge amounts of respect.

On their arrival in the remote villages, the same images await the team. With lightning-speed, word gets around of the coming of the German humedica relief team, and in no time at all, hundreds of people are waiting in front of our improvised clinic. Usually, for lack of an acceptable room, we work out in the open, which, with the huge onrush of patients, the high noise-level and midday temperatures ranging around 35°C, can be very strenuous and tiring.

Sometimes small disputes occur, because one or the other has tried to cut in line, but mostly the people are friendly and respectful.

We constantly see the same illnesses. Dr. Battraville, who is accompanying us in an administrative capacity and does not handle the patients, was very surprised from the afflictions of the people.

With our small selection of medicines we are trying to treat malaria, parasitic infections, severe skin diseases, cuts and severe dysentery. The predominant problem which overshadows everything else, however, is the starvation.

Just like this elderly woman, many people in Haiti have nothing: the storms robbed them of everything. Photo: humedica

Usually in the afternoons we are so exhausted from the heat that we have to stop working and put off those still waiting until the next time we come. After we take our clinic apart, we have to make the strenuous way back to our quarters, which can take up to two hours. Often we drive by the hospital in St. Marc to check on the conditions of patients we’ve sent there.

The conditions in this hospital, by the way, are horrendous. Even the basics are lacking. At least the pharmacy manager helps us in ordering our medicine, which we need in large quantities.

A second humedica team organizes on-site food distribution, which can only occur under the protection of the UNO. The help of this team is even more important than that of our medical team. The people suffer from starvation, many are malnourished.

The immense costs are a problem, and up to now we’ve been relatively able to cover expenses only because of the help from the German Foreign Office. In addition, the airline CONDOR donated the flights for me and my fellow colleagues.

Without this assistance we would have had to do without the help of our nurse, which would have made things for us much more difficult. With her, we could handle at least 900 patients in a week. In actuality, though, double this amount was needed.

Because the suffering - and with it the work - wears on, we are fervently awaiting donations which will allow us to continue helping the people of Haiti. All members of the medical teams work at their own risk and without payment. Only in this way can we keep the costs down.

Unfortunately in a report one can’t fully describe the faces of the people, especially the children, as we encounter them. These wonderful children, with their beautiful and thankful dark eyes, give us so much back, that all our toils and stress are forgotten.

My granddaughter, Jemina, was born in Haiti and adopted by my daughter. I am truly thankful that I can help here at the moment."

Please help the people of Haiti by a donation to:

humedica e. V.
Keyword "Flood Assistance Haiti"
Account 47 47
BLZ 734 500 00
Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also make a secure online donation for the victims of the hurricane in Haiti.

Every form of support is much appreciated - thank you.

In one week a total of 900 people, including numerous children, could be seen and treated from the humedica medical team. (pictured: Dr. Irmgard Harms from Hindelang) Photo: humedica

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