“It grieves me deeply”

by Dr. Petra Kranz-Ries,  2010/10/02

Dr Petra Kranz-Ries, a motivated physician and member of the fifth mission team in Pakistan, reports about her personal impressions gained in the disaster region in and around Sukkur.

This relief mission in Pakistan is the first humanitarian mission Dr Petra Kranz-Ries takes part in. Photo: humedica/SRI

We arrived in Sukkur, in the south of Pakistan, six days ago. This is my first humanitarian mission and I was wondering what to expect. Even when driving from the airport to our accommodation in Sukkur, we passed refugee camps lining the road.

Sukkur is located a little higher up than the surrounding area and therefore many people have taken refuge here. Some of the people do not even dispose of the shelter of a tent; they sleep on the bare ground or on wooden sleeping platforms.

The younger children sometimes do not wear anything at all, the older ones are running around wearing only dirty shirts. When we visited one of the camps for the first time, I had to fight back the tears that welled up in face of the conditions we encountered. Between the shelters – which could not even be referred to as huts – there were several large ponds full of brackish water and waste.

Many children were running around. They were dirty and undernourished. Then we set up our “treatment room”: camping tables and chairs were set up under a roof and the boxes containing medications and dressing materials were put next to them. A pallet was set up for treating and examining children and in one corner we built a makeshift examination room, using blankets for walls.

Since we did not stop working after sunset and needed electric light, we had brought a generator that provided us with electricity. Our team consists of a medical student who also is a professional paediatric nurse, another medical student who is a professional paramedic, a general practitioner from Belgium, our coordinator and local nursing staff from Pakistan.

These local team members are employed in the framework of a project intended to care for slum children, which is supported by the German organisation Kindernothilfe e.V. (Duisburg). Our colleagues from Pakistan at the same time act as interpreters, since our patients here do not speak English.

Dr Petra Kranz-Ries (left, yellow burka) and the nurse Saskia Hankel are treating a patient directly by the river. Photo: humedica/Simon Gelzenleuchter

I myself am an orthopaedic. But nevertheless, when working here, I have to cover all medical fields such as internal medicine, otolaryngology, ophthalmology, dermatology, gynaecology and paediatrics. Many of our patients are elderly people or children. The children are often in pitiful conditions, severely undernourished, weak, dehydrated and covered with skin diseases.

We encounter similar conditions day by day. All this grieves me deeply. I think it definitely helps to put some of the concerns we have at home due to insubstantial problems into another perspective. I thank God for giving me this opportunity of being here and helping the people and hope that our help is not just a drop in the ocean. This will certainly not be my last mission.

Also the elderly people are often very thin. When asking the patients for their trouble, they most frequently complain about general weakness and diarrhoea. You always have to keep in mind the disastrous conditions the people here are living in: they have no regular meals, often no clean drinking water, no toilets, not to speak of the possibility of washing themselves properly, and they are living amid the waste and debris.

Kind regards to everyone who supports us and our work,
Yours Dr Petra Kranz-Ries

Please continue helping us to provide medical care for the flood victims in Pakistan. This care increasingly also includes the treatment of undernourished children. Simply send a text message containing the reference DOC to 8 11 90, make a donation for the people in Pakistan via our online form or in the traditional way by means of transferring to the account below:

      humedica e.V.
      Stichwort „Flood relief Pakistan
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Thank you very much.

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