"Besides medical care we also offer comfort and a shoulder to lean on"

by Christian Simmons/RBU,  2011/02/12

In January, Christian Simmons travelled to Brazil as a member of the first humedica mission team and since then he has been coordinating the relief measures together with Nils Stilke and Dr Irmgard Harms. In his report, 30-year-old Christian Simmons describes his work and the challenges (both of an organisational and emotional kind) arising during a mission.

Christian Simmons has been working in the disaster region in Brazil as logistic coordinator for about one month. Photo: humedica/Irmgard Harms

"This is my first humedica mission and it took me only one minute to take the decision. I have never before accompanied a medical mission. So far, I have only taken part in a mission to the Amazon with the objective of helping local population by means of installing water filters and building churches.

Never before have I seen so much misery as I encountered here in Brazil as a consequence of the landslides that occurred in Nova Friburgo, Petrópolis and Teresópolis. Even driving to the disaster region already was an overwhelming and impressive experience. Partly, the streets were hardly passable and some stretches were very dangerous, since parts of the road had slid down.

Some streets had already been cleared and earth and mud had been piled up to the right and left of the road, creating a narrow path to drive through. Looking out of the car windows, we could see many mountainsides that had slid down. However, the entire extent of the disaster only became clear to us after having arrived at the base of humedica Brazil, when we made a tour around the affected areas.

After numerous negotiations with public authorities and the Minister of Health, we finally also obtained a work permit for the medical team that was to arrive on the next day. Based on this news, we could start planning.

Medical care

The relief assistants were divided up into two teams. Each team was assigned parts of the seven districts in which we were to take care of the patients. Every team was supported by a local driver, since they knew the places where refugees had found shelter at emergency accommodations like churches and schools and could drive us there.

Folding tables and chairs in the open: they make up our examination room during disaster relief missions. Photo: humedica/Rainer Berendes

It was the first days in particular, which were very exhausting, since often we did not stop working before 10 pm.

From a medical perspective, we administered mostly general and basic treatments. Contusions, bruises, serious haematomas, open wounds and pains in spine, head, bones and joints or stomach troubles.

Furthermore, our presence gave hope and support to the traumatised people; we could offer them a shoulder to lean on in this difficult situation, which had deprived them of everything, and we could give them some new strength and comfort.

I enjoyed working with my team. Everyone paid attention to each other and the prevailing team spirit was very positive and motivating. Working processes went hand in hand and everyone supported each other whenever they needed a hand.

Since we had to work under such difficult conditions in a disaster region, it was very important for me personally and for my work that I felt comfortable in my team.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help.

I would like to thank God for his guidance. And also my two coordinator colleagues. Nils, for giving me the opportunity of taking part in such a difficult, but nevertheless very enriching and touching mission. My employers for releasing me this spontaneously. humedica, for trusting me to meet the challenges and to be equal to the tasks.

We want to make children laugh again - although it's only paper hats the humedica assistants crafted with them. Photo: humedica

And Irmgard, for supporting me in her cheerful and above all wise way, for encouraging me, and above all for easing the atmosphere with her humorous remarks. In my opinion, both the coordinators and the honorary medical assistants are doing a wonderful work that merits a lot of respect.

Please support humedica, in order to promote this valuable work and to help humedica Brazil regarding reconstruction measures that go beyond disaster relief.

Thank you very much,
Yours Christian Simmons"

After concluding our medical relief aid, which we have been able to implement since January thanks to the support of the German Federal Foreign Office, humedica will support the reconstruction of destroyed houses. Please help us to build up a new future for those affected by means of a targeted donation.

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference "Landslide Brazil"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Furthermore, we also offer sustainable support by means of our Sponsorship Programme - please become a sponsor! You can also contribute to great achievements by means of sending a text message: send the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and you will be charged 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica project work. Thank you very much.

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