Routine in a state of emergency

by Nora Parasie/LKO, 2015/08/21

Normally, Nora Parasie from Hamburg works as a teacher at a primary school. But instead of relaxing from the everyday life at school during the summer holidays, the 29-year-old has decided to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon as a voluntary humedica coordinator. Shortly before the start of the school year, Nora has written down a report for us on two days in her work as a coordinator. In the first part of this review, you will read about the challenges a typical working day in Lebanon brings about.

Part 1: Special cases and a heaps of work

“It is Wednesday morning in the town Zahlé, not far away from the Syrian border. After having greeted all staff members at a short team meeting and having admonished those who have arrived late (in a friendly way), I meet our three doctors and the two Field Officers to talk about the so-called “special cases”.

For today, Field Officer David has made up a list of current cases, who need special medical treatment. There is the child, who needs a cornea transplantation to prevent blindness. We discuss about where to apply for the taking in charge of the operation costs.

Our six-month-old patient with a colon malformation is going to be operated today. Thanks to the UN support system, 75 percent of the costs for this life-saving operation are being taken in charge. Thanks to a private donation, humedica can support the family with the other 25 percent. A disoriented 60-year-old must be checked in the tuberculosis center, if the suspicion of our doctor Natalie can be confirmed. We also talk about several other cases and the next steps to take.

The team is divided into two “mobile medical units”: David will go to camp number ten, together with our pharmacist Eman and Dr. Mohammad. Dr. Natalie, Dr. Ghassan and pharmacist Iman are going to spend their day in camp 40, together with Field Officer Deeb. Our midwife Sandy is driving to camp five with our driver Bassam.

For me, there is office work to be done: The receipts for the last invoices must be completed with budget points, must be photographed and entered into the new accountancy program; the patient’s questionnaires must be analyzed and e-mails must be answered.

I start with the e-mails and the first thing I find, is the record of the last Inter-Agency-Meeting, where the representatives of the different national and international help organizations working in Bekaa valley have met. This report tells that here alone there are currently 1,144 camps of more than four tents, moreover 910 other camps of less than four tents exist.

64 of these camps have already been subject to eviction, for example because they were situated too near to the checkpoints of the Lebanese army. Depending on the camps, their inhabitants were not always able to prepare their moving.

After having visited camp ten in the morning and bringing missing medicine there, assistant coordinator Nader and I drive to camp 40 in the middle of the day. After a great rush of patients in the morning, the team is having its well-deserved lunch break. In the waiting area many children are playing. On our way back we visit Sandy in camp 5. Today, she works in a big tent and she is just phoning a patient she would like to see again.

Her next patient has a five-month-old baby and today the pregnancy test is positive again. She is not well, must lie down and then she talks with our midwife for a long time. Sandy explains me that some women do not come to see her for a treatment, but to talk about their problems. Besides the health aspects, pastoral counselling is at least as important as these.

At about 4 p.m. the two teams arrive at the office, unload their equipment, pluck in their battery-operated ventilators and start to document on the medicine distributed today and to replenish the pharmacy for their work tomorrow.

At 16:20 we all meet in the office for the final team meeting. Everybody is exhausted of the busy, hot day. Today, 229 patients have been treated by the three humedica doctors and the midwife.

After all staff members have left, there is office work for me to do once again. I sum up the invited estimates of costs for a mobile clinic bus, which we want to organize with the support of Bild Hilft e.V. and which will offer many more diagnostic possibilities for our doctors. Quickly I call the assistant in charge, Nina in Kaufbeuren and we discuss the next steps to take. The day ends much too quickly.”

In the second part of the review, you will learn about the importance of a Shawish for the work of the humedica helpers and about the wishes, which the coordinator has repeatedly been approached with be the refugee children.

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