The Pakistani children who are afraid of water

by Prof. Dr. Dr. Bernd Domres und Ferdinand Hofer,  2010/08/12

Thanks to the Foundation of the German Institution for Relief Medicine (Stiftung des Deutschen Instituts für Katastrophenmedizin), the experienced Dr Rashid Al Badi is a member of our team. Photo: humedica/Rupert Waldmüller

While the rain falls and stops randomly, the humedica team has continuously been treating more than one hundred flood victims per day for one week. Besides physical pains, psychological problems and emotional stress are now becoming more and more obvious, according to the report of our team.

"After the heavy rains and unsettled weather of the past few days, we had a sunny day and with more than 35 degrees Celsius it was accordingly hot. The day started with us being forced to make detours, since there were protest rallies in the city centre of Charsadda. When we had finished treatment and wanted to drive back to our accommodation, we had to make a detour of several hours again.

There were demonstrations by refugees on the highway, both sides of which are lined with tents and makeshift shelters, and the road was blocked. Fortunately we have Achmet, our driver, who is always informed about such unscheduled events and is always very concerned about our well-being and above all about our safety.

Therefore we would like to seize this opportunity to present our team of local assistants, and thank them for their efforts. As we have already mentioned, there is Achmet, our driver, whose old jeep is used for transporting ourselves and our drugs and material every day. At the same time he offers us his priceless services as interpreter and assistant during the treatment of patients. Meanwhile, he has already learned to take the patients' blood pressure.

Another member of our team is Christopher McGee from Pakistan, who also puts his car at our disposal and works as organiser and mediator between us and different institutions and authorities. At the high school grounds, we are furthermore assisted by a local security guard, two more interpreters who help us communicating with our patients, and a nurse.

Also the headmaster of the school offers us every support he can. He always remembers our team and he organises things like our meals, which need to be taken to us in Charsadda and Peshawar by Nasim.

Prof Dr Dr Bernd Domres (left) and Dr Rashid al Badi (right) can count on the support of Christopher and many other local assistants. Photo: humedica

The school's English teacher also assists during the treatments. And his children also do their best to help us: so for example his thirteen year-old daughter helps us communicating with our patients with her English skills.

Over the past few days we have realised that a lot of patients are not only suffering from physical injuries caused by the flood, but also from deep emotional traumata. Various children show symptoms of aqua phobia.

Numerous women have become widows, as their husbands wanted to take them and their children to safety, but lost their own lives while rescuing them. Many children have become orphans. Those persons are suffering from deep psychological traumata; many of the women are suffering from severe depressions.

In order to lead these traumatised persons on their first steps to recovery, a psychologist has joined our team today, who will take care of the survivors of the flood.

The population is currently preparing everything for Ramadan. For the period of one month, the people will fast and start their social life only after sunset. Since the patients in our care, or respectively the entire population, are already turning this night into day, they will sleep in tomorrow. And therefore we will postpone the beginning of treatments at the school, which usually is scheduled for eight o'clock, by two hours.

Dear readers, as a conclusion of our report we would like to provide you with two record-breaking facts about Charsadda: we were told that Charsadda allegedly has the largest paper mill in the world.

And the second, however not so pleasant, record refers to a graveyard. The graveyard of Charsadda is the largest graveyard in Asia, both regarding its geographical size and the number of graves. Every day our road leads us through this graveyard for several kilometres and it stretches to both sides of the road. We can see a lot of new graves which are protected with canvas when it is raining.

On this note we would like to conclude our report and send you kind regards from Pakistan,

Yours sincerely, Bernd Domres and Ferdinand Hofer"

As is always the case after a disaster, the real extent of the traumata will only be revealed after some time. Photo: humedica/Ferdinand Hofer

Dear friends of humedica: please continue supporting the work of our medical teams in Pakistan. This disaster is of a size we can hardly stand up to without your financial support.

You can send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and contribute a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into our project work. Please also donate for the flood victims in Pakistan via our online form, or choose the traditional way of supporting us by transferring your donation to the account below:

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference "Flood relief Pakistan"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Thank you very much!

Ferdinand Hofer surrounded by the children to whom we can offer help thanks to your support. Photo: humedica/Rashid Al Badi

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