EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI: An impressive sight - 23 red vests in action

by Simone Winneg/SRI,  2010/01/25

An impressive sight: 23 persons of all ages, with different life stories, united by a common aim: helping people here in Haiti. 23 red vests that save and maintain lives.

They are the hope of a tormented nation: The children of Haiti. Foto: humedica/Judith Kühl

On the first day after their arrival, the new team already integrated themselves fully into the structures they found here: the “hospital of hope” is operating at full speed, several operations are carried out every day, under very simple conditions. Meanwhile, however, we have obtained good material and tools. Or, as Prof. Dr. Dr. Bernd Domres expressed it: We have progressed from Stone Age to Iron Age.

When, in the beginning, an orthopaedic traction was applied by making use of stones, the doctors are now using high-quality screws and instruments in order to support the healing process of bone fractures. One patient after the other is restored to health and is given the possibility of moving normally again.

New possibilities have opened up thanks to the growth of the team. As a result, we were able to put a second hospital in operation, where a missionary family did their best to give us a good start. With great commitment, they took care of our needs, cleaned the rooms, provided nurses and even a mobile x-ray machine so that we would be able to carry out operations. Consequently, we have been able already today to treat the first patients in the hospital that was actually not designed for the purpose of emergency care.

Another hospital, built by Christoffel-Blinden-Mission (CBM Germany) for eye operations, has been transformed into an emergency clinic without limiting the clinic’s usual activities too much. Again, we were confronted with many serious injuries, fractures and old, infected wounds, yet there were also patients with everyday illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhoea, which makes it obvious that the restoration of basic medical services will be necessary in the battered island nation as soon as possible.

Two weeks after the quake thousands of patients are still waiting for treatment. Foto: humedica/Judith Kühl

This constitutes a real challenge in a situation where almost no infrastructure is available. There is a lack of staff and supplies, we’re still far from what could be called normal life.
Sometimes I wonder how people here manage to stay positive, not to give up. It fills me with great joy to see that, slowly but surely, people are recovering from the first shock. The laughter of children, the grateful faces of our patients after their treatment, their continuous recovery as well as the steady decrease in the number of gravely injured: all this raises our hope for an easing of the situation.

Thanks to our large medical team, we can now deliver lifesaving help and medical treatment at three different locations: About 40 patients are currently treated as inpatients in our first hospital, the “hospital of hope”. Apart from that, we are working in the newly-opened clinic run by CBM Germany in the district of DELMAS 31 and we are planning to continue treatment in the more distant city of Léogâne. It’s a two hour drive to the city that was at the epicentre of the quake and was almost totally destroyed.

Because of the massive damage caused in Léogâne, we offer medical treatment in a tent, instead of a normal building. In cooperation with other NGOs, we mainly provide outpatient wound care, yet also basic medical care for patients who haven’t received treatment from other organizations yet.

In contrast to the alarming reports from other parts of the city, especially regarding the distribution of food, we are very fortunate with our patients whose behaviour is peaceful and friendly and who react to our help with great gratitude. Despite long waiting times, we’ve never heard a word of complaint. On the contrary: a staffer of one of our partner organizations told us that one of our patients had expressed his great gratitude with the following words: “In my whole life, I have never been treated that well before.” What else can be said?

I can just think of one thing: Thank you to all those who enable us to help by giving money or donations in kind or support us in any other way. Dear friends and supporters, thank you very much on behalf of our teams and our patients in Haiti who can get well again thanks to your help and for whom there will be a life after the earthquake.

Simone Winneg and the humedica-team Haiti

Still far from normal: Life in Haiti. Foto: humedica/Jens Großmann

People in Haiti need our help on a long-term basis. Please help us to lay an important foundation for long-term help by making a donation to the following account.
       humedica e. V.
       Reference „Earthquake Haiti"
       Account 47 47
       Bank code 734 500 00
       Sparkasse Kaufbeuren


The humedica relief efforts in Haiti are carried out in close cooperation with Kindernothilfe (Duisburg), World Vision (Friedrichsdorf) and Bild hilft - Ein Herz für Kinder (Hamburg). Moreover, we are receiving support from AIR BERLIN GROUP (Berlin), GAiN Germany e. V. (Gießen), Skandinavische Kindermission, hoffnungszeichen e. V. (Singen), Apotheker ohne Grenzen Deutschland e. V., Deutsches Institut für Katastrophenmedizin (Tübingen) ans last but not least von Apotheker helfen - Hilfswerk der Bayerischen Apotheker (München). Again, at this point, humedica wants to express its gratitude for any kind of support and the excellent cooperation.

Note for media representatives: If there is any interest, the medical teams in Haiti will be available for telephone and live-interviews. For further information, please contact humedica-press spokesman Steffen Richter.

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