Nurse Susanne Lemke reports after her return from Port Au Prince (part 2)

by Susanne Lemke/SRA,  2010/08/24

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.

“In the framework of my work I got to know a woman from Germany who lives here in Port Au Prince, and does everything in her power in order to help her neighbours. So, for example, she commits herself to distributing our drugs above all to those critically ill and to children. Many of them are suffering from infectious diseases such as pneumonia and malaria.

With the assistance of our interpreters we treat our patients and take care of them. Without our support, the majority of them could not even afford treatment at a hospital or the drugs they need.

Most people’s health state is highly precarious; they are lacking everything. When making a tour around Port Au Prince, I am shocked by the conditions they are forced to live in. What frightens me most is that the prospects for an improvement of the disastrous situation are getting ever worse.

The extent of destruction is still obvious. Photo: humedica/Susanne Lemke

The population is not lacking motivation for dealing with the chaos of waste, rubble and ruins in the streets of Port Au Prince. But nevertheless the people need help which goes far beyond this. However, what is surprising is that the people do not give up despite the hopelessness of the situation. They stick together and struggle on; day by day.

The numerous patients, interpreters and visitors I have met during the five weeks I spent in Haiti have demonstrated to me how brave the people here are. Many of them suffered injuries; lost an arm or a leg. Others are traumatised by the earthquake and still suffer from sleep disorders.

Almost everyone is mourning for a family member or a friend who has died. But those affected worst are people who have lost their whole families during the earthquake. I am deeply impressed by those persons. Their trust in God never fails them.

Side by side with the local nursing staff. Photo: humedica/Susanne Lemke

And amidst the suffering and desperation there also are moments and experiences that give us new hope. I get to know the patients during their frequent visits at our outpatient clinic and we are always pleased to meet again. I have learned that an understanding without words is possible. It is a wonderful experience.

The suspicion the local nurses had shown towards our team at the beginning, has disappeared from one day to the next. This substantially facilitates our task of training the local nursing staff during training measures. New processes and structures can be implemented more easily.

Another day, a patient returned from the relief organisation Handicap International with a new artificial leg. We were all sharing his joy when he immediately tried to walk without crutches.

I would have liked to take part in this mission for longer. Time was far too short.

I would like to wish all the patients, employees and above all the people in Haiti all the best”.

Susanne Lemke

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

Update my browser now×