Nurse Susanne Lemke reports after her return from Port Au Prince

by Susanne Lemke/SRA, 2010/08/21

Since January, almost one hundred honorary humedica employees have been sent to Haiti – which has been devastated by the earthquake – with the objective of offering medical treatment. One of them was Susanne Lemke, a nurse from Germany. Being one of the more than 1000 medical team assistants listed in our databank, she has followed humedica’s call to offer help in a disaster area for the fourth time now. This time she went on an unpaid five-week mission to Port Au Prince, Haiti, starting in the middle of the year.

“After our departure from Frankfurt Airport, our team consisting of six doctors and three nurses arrived in Port Au Prince. Right after leaving the airport, we are faced with the ubiquitous chaos that has been left behind by the earthquake.

Port Au Prince still is a scene of destruction. The people can only take shelter in tents, since their houses and towns have been destroyed by the earthquake. Soon, we are told a fact that is probably known to only few people in the world: the inhabitants of this city have not been much better off even before the earthquake.

Help is still urgently needed in Haiti. Photo: humedica/Susanne Lemke

Since January, humedica teams from Germany have continuously been committed in Haiti, ever shifting their working place between Port Au Prince and Léogane – the area of the epicentre near Port Au Prince. The missions are on the one hand organised by the humedica headquarters in Kaufbeuren, and on the other hand by honorary coordinators who spend several months or more in the mission country.

I am experiencing the admiring competence our coordinators prove when fulfilling their tasks. They take care of customs matters, the registration and cooperation of relief organisations, water and food, lacking drugs, security regulations, finding drivers for our cars, finding interpreters and much more.

Our team is going to work both in Port Au Prince and in Léogane. Being part of the Port Au Prince team, my colleagues and I make a tour around the hospital “Espoir” (Hospital of Hope), immediately after our arrival. This is where we will work for the next five weeks.

In front of the hospital, there are tents where even now the victims of the earthquake are still treated. At the beginning, the sight of these tents seems very strange to me, indeed. But you have to get used to it quickly, as is the case with many other things.

The victims of the earthquake are treated in tents like this. Photo: humedica/Susanne Lemke

Our tasks at the hospital “Espoir” on the one hand include treating out-patients and in-patients who are accommodated in the tents. On the other hand we are also responsible for carrying through training measures for the local nursing staff and for running a mobile hospital. With the mobile hospital we will for example offer treatment to patients in a residential area of Port Au Prince, in cooperation with Kindernothilfe.”

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