The Beginning: Real Medicine Tsunami Aid in Mawella, Sri Lanka
Second Update from Dr. Martina Fuchs
June 18, 2010 - Sri Lanka
by Dr. Martina Fuchs
Approaching our 5th birthday on August 18th, 2010, and looking back to remember where we started to where we are now, here is a voice from those early days: the second update sent from the ground after opening our first clinic in Sri Lanka written by Dr. Martina herself. In it Dr. Martina Fuchs gives grateful thanks to those who helped her, speaking as a friend to her network of friends who came together to make it possible.
February 20, 2005
From Martina Fuchs in Mawella, Sri Lanka
Hi everybody, here I am again, with the next chapter from Sri Lanka. So much has happened, it almost feels like a lifetime in itself.
First: A million thank you’s! Thank you for all your e-mails and contributions and thank you for being so incredibly supportive and encouraging! It means the world to me since the need and despair here sometimes do get overwhelming. I am so grateful to have this amazing network of wonderful people in Europe and the US, of people who are so unbelievably generous. Please know that everything you contribute gets right to where it is needed the most and you do make a huge difference in the lives of innumerable people!
Today, Sunday, we just came back from a big event in Tangalle, the nearest town to our camp. Several optometrists had come from Colombo with a total of 500 glasses to examine people who had lost their glasses in the tsunami. Will had organized two vans and we shuttled about 50 of our villagers to Tangalle. The optometrists had set up camp in a Buddhist temple, the Wajiragiriya temple, and there were huge lines as we arrived. But almost everybody left happy and a lot of our villagers with new glasses.
Waiting in line with our villagers, we caught glimpses of the Buddhist Sunday school:
The Buddhist monks here in Sri Lanka have initiated celebrations to mourn the people who died in the tsunami and to celebrate their lives, the Peritha celebrations. One of these celebrations was held in our camp on Saturday night. All the villagers did their best to dress up, and many of the kids were actually proudly wearing their new clothes that had come in from donation packages within the last few weeks. We were invited to be part of the celebration. It never ceases to amaze me how generous they are with the little they have. I was sitting on mats with a whole bunch of mothers with their kids and there were small packages of peanuts. They took pride in making sure that I was never without supply. The children fell asleep one after the other, and the celebration, the chanting and praying continued throughout the night.
My little clinic is up and running, and I couldn’t be more proud.
I am proud to present two of my patients :
The Sri Lankan Navy helped us to install electricity, we have light, we have two fans (thank you, Commander Jagath Mutubandara, for making it all possible!).
Jonathan and Orrin built our examination table and all the furniture:
Wasana, a woman from the camp, sewed curtains for us:
We will get a sink, a water tower is already prepared in a nearby tree. Patients are lining up as soon as our clinic opens, and it is everybody, infants and children and their parents of course, but also adults of all ages, pregnant women, I believe there were about 70 patients in two days. Right now, we have an infection going around in our camp, a lot of children are suffering from really high fever. And what I am seeing a lot, too, are patients who had swallowed water when the tsunami happened and need reassurance that they are okay. At this point, I want to thank the pediatric surgery division of the Kinderkrankenhaus St. Marien in Landshut, Germany, and their chief, my brother, Dr. Oliver Fuchs, from the bottom of my heart. The seven large boxes of medical supplies that you have provided and sent to us are absolutely invaluable. We would not be able to work without them. We are absolutely impressed by your generosity.
A few days ago, I met with psychologists from Galle, who had organized a day of psychological evaluation for 250 children from 4 schools in the area who still showed signs of extreme emotional distress after the tsunami. They had arranged a day of singing, playing at the beach, etc. while they observed the children and their reactions in order to help them specifically. We connected with them to provide psychological support for the children in our camp, too, and are very proud that a psychiatrist now is specifically looking after our villagers.
Children paint the tsunami:
Father Surangika Fernando took me aside and told me about an inter-religious nursery he had organized in a Methodist church, including Muslim children, Buddhist children, Christian children, etc. It is a total of 60 children under 5 years of age who have lost one or both parents in the tsunami, or children coming from families who have lost everything in the tsunami. In addition to the kids in our camp, this is where the toys and children’s clothes are going to go that are coming out of the beautiful toy drives in Germany and the US. Words cannot express my gratitude, Mutti, Papa, Gloria, Christiana, Familie Sigl, all the children and parents of the Kindergarten Hersel, Uschi, Loren, and everybody else who is part of it and who’s contribution is invaluable. Because of your support and generosity, I can keep my promises to these children, I would be helpless without you.
As promised, here a quick update on the Tangalle Hospital project, that RealMedicine supports. For the complete proposal, please visit the Tangalle Hospital Rehabilitation page. In the following are some impressions. As I had mentioned before, this hospital is in dire need, and we are committed to supporting Nick Buckingham’s efforts to renovate and upgrade it. For photos, visit our Picasa album.
Hospital main entrance:
Burning of topic waste
Nurses and nurses’ room:
Nick’s team at work
I will update here on our website again in about a week, stay tuned…
Thank you for following up on our suggestion to take on sponsorships for specific families. We are choosing families right now and will keep you posted. Any suggestions or ideas are always welcome!
Last, but not least, I would like to thank all the travelers here in Sri Lanka who spontaneously decided to support our work, Kumar Fernando, Solange, Wim & Adri Hendrik, Jaques & Francoise Mourrieras. Your generosity is highly appreciated.
With love and hope from Mawella,
P.S. Our main means of transportation – Tuk-tuks:
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