The children keep their fingers crossed for the German football team

by Anne C. Schmitt,  2010/06/15

Since January, humedica has been sending more than 140 persons on a mission to Haiti in order to provide the victims of the earthquake with medical care. Doctor Anne C. Schmitt from Oldenburg is one of the humedica team members currently treating patients in Haiti. She describes her feelings, hopes and experiences in Haiti in her latest report.

“I am starting into my last week and although I am really looking forward to going home, I am clearly aware of all the work which still needs to or could be done here. There are still a large number of people needing help urgently. And there are still handwritten signs at the roadside, showing the words “We need help, thank you” and an arrow pointing to a village or camp next to the road. Some of the villages in the mountains have not yet received any – neither medical nor any other – provisions or aid.

But we also must remind ourselves of the immense amount of work which has been done up to now – mostly by various relief organisations. Immediately after the earthquake, these signs of people calling for help have probably been set up at every corner. In the meantime, the number of written calls for help has decreased markedly.

Destroyed houses will still be part of the townscape of Port au Prince for a long time from now. Photo: humedica/Anne Schmitt

Some days ago we visited a children’s home in order to treat the children there. The nurses and the children living there have lost everything they had due to the earthquake. By means of excellent support, however, they have already managed to rebuild a lot, and our humedica team could also make a contribution to helping them return to normality and every-day life.

We were welcomed there with cheers and happiness. Even after accomplishing our work we stayed to play with the children and to answer their unbelievable amount of curious questions. Now even the youngest know how to listen to a heartbeat and what the function of a person’s heart is.

Furthermore, my colleague held a short lesson in the German language, since the older children wanted to know everything about the home country of the “White People”. Not only was our leave-taking accompanied by cheerful cries of “Tschüüüüüss” (German for bye), but now there is an entire Haitian children’s home where children will keep their fingers crossed for the German football team during the World Cup!

When doing our daily work at the mobile hospital we are faced with many different diseases and also with people’s different and often terrible fates. One of our consultations took place at a village which had been located directly next to a large pile of rubble. This pile was cleared away last week. One of the patients told us that the building had been the village school where 21 children had lost their lives. Only now the bodies of these children could be recovered and mourned.

It is surprising how fast I got used to seeing collapsed buildings. But all these ruins have their own stories and fates to tell. In Port au Prince, for example, we have seen the most renowned nursing school –only six women survived the earthquake of its 109 students. Apart from these buildings, however, there are fortunately some buildings which have collapsed only partly and can now be used again with the help of some canvas.

When looking back and ahead, I think that we have definitely achieved a lot with our work in Haiti which also goes beyond the treatment of patients. We have had the opportunity of getting to know many people and their fates and of listening to many different stories.

A lesson in medicine: after treating the children, the humedica team takes some time to answer questions and queries of the young and older patients. Photo: humedica

Furthermore, we will also leave something behind: the concept that medical treatment is not merely a pure means of emergency relief, but a step towards a sustainable health care with doctors knowing their patients, preventing diseases and providing medical education.

Apart from the desolation I found here in Haiti, I also met people who have a vision and commit themselves to achieving something for their country. People such as the couple who were heads of the children’s home and planning to found a school, since they know how important good education is for their protégés.

The people in Haiti still need continuous support and I am grateful for the on-site work of humedica, which has after all also enabled me to contribute a little myself.

We are currently experiencing the wet season in Haiti and in the meantime we have received the first storm warnings. We can only hope for Haiti and the people here that the country will not be hit by hurricanes or tropical storms. The majority of camps and tent cities would probably not survive such storms. Not to mention the disastrous consequences for the people, many of whom have not yet overcome the experiences of last January.”

Dear friends and sponsors, please continue to support our work by means of urgently needed donations; you can make a donation both online or to the account below:
      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference "Earthquake Haiti"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Or you can support our work in a fast and simple way by means of a text message: send DOC to the abbreviated dialling +49 8 11 90 and support us with a one-time donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica project work. Thank you very much.

For the humedica team it is of great importance to get to know the patients and their fates and – besides providing them with medical treatment – to give them the feeling of human closeness and understanding. Photo: humedica

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