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TSUNAMI REPORT from a Filipino Doctor

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My Sri Lanka and Indonesia trips were sad and wonderful experiences for me. Although I treated many patients while there, this experience healed my struggling Christian spirit.

I witnessed the terrible sufferings of humanity and was encouraged by the zeal and dedication of my co-workers in Christ. I also realized that we are more blessed than those people who suffered so much --- those who lost their material things, their loved ones, and were traumatized by the memories of such unforgettable events.
The events which I will never be able to forget are:
-- Witnessing those children who draw pictures of horrible stories and who went crazy running away in different directions when somebody falsely announced that another tsunami is coming.
-- Observing children who became fatherless or motherless, and seeing parents who lost their children, or had the whole a family totally wiped out from the face of the earth.

But as we treated those patients we still saw the smiles on their faces, expressing a flicker of hope, as we extended our hands of compassion and showed to them that there is One up there Who cares for them.

In Sri Lanka approximately 80,000 people died. We saw the train where 1,500 people died inside, and the railroad workers were working hard, still repairing the railroad.

Each day they excavated more dead bodies, and we each needed to wear a mask while treating patients in the field.

I was assigned to patients with surgical problems. Some of them had wounds and skin diseases which needed dressing and medication. I also had to handle other cases like suturing of wounds, reduction of dislocated shoulders, and cauterization.

Everyday we went to different camps to cater to the needs of the people; some of us were assigned to entertain the kids, giving candies and toys which made a difference to them.
--Psychological therapy done by the psychologist and psychiatrist by letting them draw pictures.
--Our Dentist, Doctors, Preachers, and some assigned regarding logistics, did their jobs well.

Before we started our mission, we were warned not to evangelize or talk about Christ. We were a little bit nervous when we wore our t-shirts marked with "because Jesus cares"... but God is so good that the people even allowed us to pray for them.

We also distributed WBS fliers to the people, and I was even apprehended and warned by Sri Lankan medical students afterwards, but I was determined not to be stopped.

Everybody was moved, even the non-Christian doctors who joined the mission during our devotionals where we gave testimonies and sang songs of praises to the Lord.

The Sri Lankan mission was a successful one, where in our small, little way we comforted and cherished the people affected.

We knew that the place was extensively damaged, but when we reached Indonesia, by comparison, Sri Lanka had had far greater destruction and loss of human lives.

Last January, after the tragedy, an estimated 250,000 had died, but up to this day corpses are still being dug up and a local estimated that almost a million actually died during that tragedy. The destruction reached up to 4 km. inland. You can see where houses from coastal areas were wiped out, cars crumpled into an unimaginable artwork, fishing boats and a huge barge tossed into the middle of the town. Everywhere and anywhere you can see countless houses that were reduced to rubble, and a big shopping store collapsed after the earthquake which lasted for 30 minutes and an aftershock of 5 minutes.

After that came the killer tsunami.

Together with the Singaporean group of mostly members of the Churches of Christ, we were housed in one of the hospital rooms beside the emergency section. The ladies used the hospital beds provided, others stayed on the floor. In that hospital (Zainal Abidin) alone, which is located 3-4 km. from the coastal area, many patients, doctors, and nurses died during the tsunami. The mud was up to chest level deep.

Our flock was led by Edwin Choy, a preacher from Moulmein church, who conducted devotionals before and after our work. Everyday we met for devotionals; we met with different people, some were local, some were foreign volunteers.

We treated patients in the E.R., wards, OPD, and we helped the locals in terms of logistics.

Our mission in Indonesia was short but a memorable one because the people appreciated our work, especially how much we cared and how we dealt with them in a loving, Christian way.

My special thanks to my brother Salvador, the Singaporeans, and all the Christian brethren who supported me from the beginning up to the end of these medical missions.

To God we offer our praise.

 


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