In conversation with our Iran coordinator Vera Eibl

„The people inspired me!“

by Toni Gärtner,  2017/12/04

Barely back from a several month´s relief intervention as project coordinator in the Lebanon, Vera Eibl embarked again to help needy people in the course of another humedica relief initiative. This time the 28 year old Austrian travelled to the Iran, where she took care of earthquake victims together with a medical team. In the following interview she reports what she experienced on site:

Hello Vera, could you briefly outline the Iran intervention for outsiders?

Yes, of course. We went to Iran, because on the 12th of November a massive earthquake had rocked the country. humedica reacted on the spot by sending out a first medical team. Our team was the second one and our task was to continue the work of the first team and to treat the people affected by the earthquake.

The second humedica medical team in Iran: Matthias Gerloff, Vera Eibl, Toni Gärtner, Christina Raab, Heiner Laube and Julian Zedler (from the left to the right). Photo: humedica

We focused on general and traumatological treatments in remote mountainous villages, where medical care was difficult in these days. At the same time we tried to define what other items were needed, for example if humedica should send supply goods such as containers or heating devices.

What was your typical daily intervention routine?

In the morning we had breakfast together in our tent and discussed what lays ahead, where we should go and how we expected the situation on site to be. Then we took off, often our journey was longer and we were on our way for one, sometimes nearly two hours. Along our route we had to decide which villages really needed our help. So we got off time and again to speak to the inhabitants.

When we decided to stay in a village, we looked for a suitable accommodation, where our practitioners and nurses could work in peace. We then set up our equipment and 20 minutes later we were ready to start the first treatments. We stayed and treated as long as the external conditions permitted. We had to get back when it began to dawn as it was already quite cold in the evenings. Also for our patients it was no longer comfortable to wait outside then.

Back in our tents we dined together and discussed the day. Afterwards the coordinators prepared their daily reports and statistics and planned the next days. At around midnight we went to sleep.

How did you personally prepare for this intervention?

Naturally, you get the first information by humedica. In our case the first medical team was already on site and transmitted their first impressions. Often also reports from other organisations came in and gave you an idea, how massive the destruction was and how many people were affected. But the only way to get your own realistic view of the situation is to arrive on site in person.

With whom do you collaborate on site?

In nearly all our relief projects we have local partners, who are indispensable for our work. In Iran we worked very closely with the Ministry of Health, which took also care of our security as we often travelled quite remote regions of the Iran-Iraq border area.

Did this intervention present special challenges?

In this project the logistics was a real challenge. For instance, we had to check every day anew whether we had enough cars and drivers available. You must also take special care of the team work and motivation in order to accommodate your team members. The work on site, the many hours in the cars, the living conditions and the suffering people…that all is not always easy to take in.

Während des Einsatzes wurden die Patienten in Zelten medizinisch versorgt

During the intervention the patients were treated in tents. Photo: humedica

Sometimes you become very unhappy, when you feel you should do more, but it is not possible. In particular our medical team members have to fight these feelings. In this situation it is incredibly important to have the opportunity to talk to someone, to share one´s worries and concerns.

What kind of things fascinated you in Iran?

This question is easy to answer: the Iranian people inspired me. In particular in the villages they are incredibly hospitable. Even the poorest villages provided us with tea and pastry. And as soon as we decided on a site for our work, everybody was ready to help us cleaning up and to accommodate us as best as possible.

Without further ado, the villagers organized chairs and if that was not possible, they searched for a couch and brought it up the hill. It was a great to see the warm-heartedness of these people. And the landscape! We worked in a really fascinating region of Iran. Well worth of taking pictures for your own album in between.

Thank you very much for your commitment and this conversation, Vera!

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