United States

Hurricane Katrina Relief Projects Update

September 23, 2005

Dr. Martina Fuchs

The Real Medicine Foundation's second Psycho-Trauma Team has been working on the ground in Memphis, Tennessee, since Monday, September 19. Our third team is coming in this weekend.

Here is a quick update about our work so far:

Guided by the Red Cross and the EMA (Emergency Management Association) here in Memphis, we had started out providing psycho trauma support with the first team that was put together by Dr. Kevin Becker, the Director of the Institute of Trauma and Crisis at Harvard Medical School, on Sunday, September 11. We worked in a shelter that provided space for 150 people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, 70 of them children.

Katrina's kids draw pictures of the Hurricane:

On Tuesday, September 13, we received an emergency call from the Red Cross requesting our psycho trauma support for a horrible situation in which a father needed to tell his four children about the death of their mother in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. So, our team went to a shelter in Memphis to facilitate and support the encounter.

St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital here in Memphis requested our help as well. We had an initial consultation with representatives from various departments. They are currently treating children of Gulf Coast families whose medical treatment was interrupted by the hurricane. We have been invited to speak at an upcoming grand rounds at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital on trauma issues to those health care providers working with these families both here in Memphis and in Baton Rouge.

In addition, we are working closely with the Superintendent of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee. This extraordinary school system has opened its arms and doors to meet the educational and practical daily living needs of approximately 330 displaced Gulf Coast children. Over and over we were touched by the fact that nearly all of the children have come with little more than the clothes on their backs. "These people have lost everything, their homes, their communities, their friends, their jobs and their schools." The uncertain future weighs heavily on the children and their families. The Diocese continues to generously open their schools and their hearts to students arriving here daily.

Children displaced by Hurricane Katrina are integrated into the Memphis school system:

School Uniform Donations

Five Girls from New Orleans in Memphis:

In our initial meeting it became apparent that their system needed a plan and a protocol for how to appropriately respond to the emotional needs of these children and to help them assimilate. This week we met with representatives from each of the 29 schools in the district, serving pre K through the 12th grade. Through this direct collaboration we have developed a personalized model to help the staff respond to and anticipate the needs of its students. We are committed to continuing to support the Diocese's efforts. In the words of one staff member with whom we met "Memphis can be proud" of the way they have opened their arms to the needs of these families. Our team wholeheartedly agrees.

At this point, we want to thank all the wonderful people who are making it possible for us to be here and are so unbelievably generous and welcoming. And thank you to all of you who are supporting this work with your expertise and financial contributions, we would not be able to do anything without your amazing and continuous support. You are helping to make a huge difference in the lives of many, many people! It is so wonderful to see how this "network of friends helping friends" is growing every day. And an especially big Thank you to you, Meg, for sharing your family and your friends and your resources, words are not enough to express our gratitude!

We will continue to update you on our work and progress, please stay tuned.

Dr. Martina Fuchs and Jeffrey Weir at St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis

Dr. Kevin Becker and counselors

Dr. Gerri King, James Kinhan, Dr. Annie Farnsworth, George Valadie, President
of the St. Benedict High School, Memphis

Dr. Penny Haney and Jeffrey Weir at St. Paul School in Memphis

Jeffrey Weir at St. Paul School in Memphis

Dr. Penny Haney at St. Paul School in Memphis

Dr. Annie Farnsworth at a seminar for staff of the Catholic School District
of Memphis, at St. Benedict High School

James Kinhan, Dr. Annie Farnsworth, and Dr. Gerri King in conversation
with teachers at the Immaculate Conception School in Memphis

Stephanie Skavenski at the shelter at the Mid-South Baptist Conference Center

Dr. Guy Sapirstein, Dr. Penny Haney and Dr. Annie Farnsworth

Country Page: United States Initiative Page: Hurricane Katrina Relief Project