What’s left?

by Annette Weiberle/SRI, 2015/06/29

The nurse Annette Weiberle from Stuttgart hadn’t expected any longer going on an operation with a medical team, when she received another call from the humedica headquarters and shortly after that, another adventure in an operation for people in distress should start for the young Swabian.

“At the moment, they are digging and drilling much in the ground in Stuttgart. Sometimes, you still can feel the vibrations on bridges or even on the highest floors of multi-storey buildings. Up to then, this had unnerved me sometimes. Since I have come back from my two-week commitment with humedica in Nepal, I give a jerk in these cases. An earthquake! What is to do?

At the next moment, I can laugh about myself. Thus, in my everyday German life, I recall my intensive and precious time in Nepal. In fact, I had planned two weeks of active holiday during the Pentecost holidays - paddling and cycle training in Austria – as humedica had, in the first instance, cancelled the planned operation in Nepal.

My fast answer to the renewed and surprising demand from Kaufbeuren was clearly “yes”. Then I started to pack my things and already two days later, I arrived in Istanbul, where our team of two doctors, one coordinator and me as a nurse met. A little time later, we reached the region we were heading for, about 15 km off the Tibetan frontier.

In the first-aid tent put up by Dr. Margrit Wille and Dr. Thomas Katzenbach, we cared for about 60 patients daily during the next days, who mostly had lost everything and who couldn’t go to any other place in this region to get medical help. There has been a continuous big danger of contagious diseases, because of the difficult hygienic conditions in and around the tent settlements. Thanks to our work and intense information, this scenario could be avoided. At the same time, the necessity of clean water had been worked out together.

A water treatment module with the fancy name “Paul” was handed over to the village by humedica and was installed directly in front of our tent. The locals immediately built a wooden rack for “Paul” and made it accessible for all people.

At this place, we learned that there were seriously ill people in isolated villages and that a settlement of “untouchables” didn’t have any access to medical care. Several hundreds of people had fled onto the back of a mountain in the middle of the night during the second quake on 12th May – elderly people had been carried, goats and cows had been brought along; they live there now in simple makeshift tent accommodations. They won’t under no circumstances go back to the valley because of their fear of other earthquakes.

After an intensive planning phase and supported by some very committed young local men, Dr. Liesel Ruff and I set out for the “untouchables”. We were carrying the most necessary choice of dressing material and medicine in our backpacks and were very excited about what was awaiting us.

To start with, a sometimes really adventurous hike, even without the nearly classical Nepali style flip-flops. Some passages had to be crossed quickly and wearing a helmet, because there were landslides and after-quakes every day of our presence there. Arriving at our aim, we noticed that the need of medical care was very important. Especially the older people had suffered severe injuries, as they had been in the houses during the quake. In Germany it is unimaginable that several fractured ribs and sometimes even more severe injuries could be endured without painkillers.

After getting back we had a nice experience: A man looking somehow familiar came into our tent and asked, if we had more pills. His mother, who we had seen with broken ribs and pneumonia some days before, was doing better.

What remains, besides experiences like this one, is also this feeling of gratefulness for being able to help at this place, which had been hit so hard. And of course, my passion of getting involved, living under the simplest conditions, in a great and reasonable project like this.

The whole team can testify about the wonderful taste coffee has after a hard day in a hot, dusty treatment tent – even if it had been filtered through a tissue handkerchief. We hope the best for this sympathetic, friendly people and the many persons we met personally.”

We will be at the side of many people in Nepal also during the next difficult months of reconstruction and new start. Become part of this commitment and support our help with a directed donation or a sponsorship. Thank you very much!

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