EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI: One of the humedica teams going to pitch up tents in Léogane on a permanent basis

by Myriam Estko/Ruth Bücker, 2010/02/08

Meanwhile, almost four weeks have passed since the devastating earthquake. Recently, Myriam Estko, a student of medicine arrived in Haiti to support the medical teams on site. In the following report, she writes about the current situation of the humedica teams.

Our camp is about half an hour’s walk from the hospital of hope, which gives you a good opportunity to have a closer look at the area where we live and work on the way there. We are staying in a quarter of Port-au-Prince where the houses are less damaged than in other parts of the city. Many of the houses have survived the earthquake relatively unscathed.

In spite of the many images provided by the media, reality is often hardly conceivable. Foto: humedica/Julia Micklinghoff

Yet in between, there are large gaps. It’s a strange thing. Already when we arrived in Haiti from the Dominican Republic, the damage confounded us. I don’t know what I had actually expected, but the sight of multi-storey buildings whose floors collapsed like pancakes is still incomprehensible to me.

Nevertheless, there are small signs of new courage, new hope and a new beginning. Facades, for example, that are being painted. Or the first sound of loud, jangling music on a street corner.

Also at the hospital „Espoir“, we, the new team, experience a little more normality each day. The ward is well-arranged, considering the circumstances we are working in. The treatment of patients lying in the yard has become easier thanks to the new, larger tents that give more quiet and privacy to the patients.

Unfamiliar working conditions, extraordinarily serious injuries: die physicians Benjamin Kienast and Michael Brinkmann treat many patients each day. Photo: humedica/Simone Winneg.

Nevertheless, working in a stooped position on the floor or the changing of bandages in confined conditions is often a challenge. Our operations theatre has also been rearranged: small tables have been put together so that we can sort the medication better that had previously been stored on the floor. Apart from that, new devices for the stabilization of fractures have arrived that make a more routined work possible.

Nevertheless, we have to face new difficulties each day. So, for instance, the door of the X-ray room had been shut a whole day long and had to be sawed open laboriously. Another problem is that the power goes off at times and we have to work on in the dark.

Gradually, the number of acute cases, which had been very high directly after the earthquake, is diminishing, while there is a rising number of patients with chronic diseases or wounds that need after-treatment. Unfortunately, there are still patients arriving with injuries that have only been given insufficient treatment in the chaos that had gripped Port-au-Prince and the surroundings during the first days and, in consequence, have become infected in many cases.

Today, we split the team into two groups and, with a heavy heart, sent out the smaller group to Léogane, where from now on, they are going to work on a permanent basis. Up to this day, we had driven to Léogane each day and back in the evening, but the road is not without danger. After an accident that, fortunately, had no serious consequences and long hours of waiting on congested roads, moving to Léogane seemed more sensible.

For the coming days, a complete rearrangement of the store is in planning at the hospital „Espoir“. Shelves have been provided to us and once put up, will help us to get a better overview of our material. It seems as if a little bit of normality was settling in the daily chaos. That’s at least what I hope for!

Gradually, the treatment of patients at the hospital of hope is settling into a routine. Photo: humedica/Tim Frodermann

Dear friends and supporters, please help us to support people in Haiti through sustainable long-term aid by making a donation to the following account:
       humedica e.V.
       Donation reference „Earthquake Haiti
       Account 47 47
       Bank code 734 500 00
       Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Please also donate online. Thank you very much.

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) and last but not least by Apotheker helfen - Hilfswerk der Bayerischen Apotheker (Munich). Again, at this point, humedica wants to express its gratitude for any kind of support and the excellent cooperation.

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