India

Salvation Army response to Orissa floods - Update 13 Jan 2000

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The statistics tell part of the story: 23 visits to 22 sites in 20 days, caring for a total of 2,941 people in need of medical attention, and distributing over 1,100 blankets to people carefully selected on the basis of need. But the human and spiritual input is greater and cannot be quantified. Such has been the work of the Salvation Army medical team following the floods in Orissa, India.
The initial team consisted of personnel from The Salvation Army's Catherine Booth Hospital, Nagercoil, supported by Dr S. Mitra (Argun Nagar Community Health Development Programme, New Delhi) and two nurses and three officers from Orissa.

One visit was to a village called Nowgaon, some 35 km from the team's base. Only 245 of the estimated 300 people who lined up for care could be attended to during the day. Cases treated included respiratory tract infections, anaemia, diarrhoea, worm infestations, injuries and skin infections. Hampers containing a sari, rice, dahl, biscuits and soap were distributed to 20 widows whose husbands had been lost in the storms. One hundred blankets were also distributed. The villages helped by selecting the most needy to receive these items.

Everywhere the team went there was a positive response. Sometimes the people showed appreciation by offering snacks from the little they had. Often team members saw the people change from looking sad and distracted to having a smile and being re-energised. Some follow-up visits were made, but the need is so great it was impossible to meet all the requests for assistance.

The Catherine Booth Hospital team was replaced by a team from the Army's Emery Hospital for the Christmas period. It was hoped to put together a further team to relieve the Emery Hospital team on 5 January.

AUTHOR: Major Theodore Mahr

ORIGINAL PUBLICATION: INR 00/02

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