“Even I, who has seen so much, was deeply moved by the situation we encountered.” Prof. Dr. Heiner Laube spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the Philippine island of Mindanao, where a typhoon had raged a few days prior to his arrival. In the meantime, he has returned home safely.
To see people’s misery, their sorrow and the overall devastation had touched him deeply, reported the doctor from Gießen. “But just this has been our motivation to travel to the Philippines and to offer help.”
The town of Iligan had been affected worst by a flood wave that towered up to 20 to 30 metres. The volume of the river coming down from the mountains had increased, the river’s current had become ever faster due to the exceedingly heavy monsoon rains, until it had uprooted banana plants and tree trunks and carried them down the into the town in the valley.
“Nothing was left”, Prof. Dr. Heiner Laube described the situation. humedica was only able to reach the villages which had been cut off from the outside world by these mudslides thanks to the free use of a army helicopter. “Where only a few days before, children must have been playing and normal life have taken place, simply nothing was left. We passed these places and they seemed like a graveyard to us.
Partly, you could make out some ruins protruding from the mud that had buried everything to a height of up to half a metre. But most of the houses had been destroyed completely. It was good that we were there and could offer help.”
A majority of the patients were children who had contracted skin diseases when playing in the polluted water that had not seeped into the ground. A substantial share of those affected who had found accommodation at makeshift reception camps were apathetic and only stared into empty space, Laube remembers.
“After this terrible experience they didn’t have any motivation to live. They were just sitting there together with the other about hundred flood victims who had been accommodated in one class room together. However, when we addressed them with the assistance of our interpreter, this façade quickly broke down and they told us their stories and about the loss of beloved ones, which almost every survivor had suffered.”
After this devastating disaster, they had no motivation to live and stay alive, the experienced relief doctor told us thoughtfully.
In contrast, every conversation, every treatment and in particular every smile of a child made it easier to bear this situation. “Although I am quite old, I grow with everything I see and experience. I grow with every encounter with other persons and with every conversation.”
In the meantime, medical emergency and disaster relief on Mindanao Island has been concluded, as those hospitals that have not been destroyed can implement the necessary medical care by themselves once more. We are currently consulting with our local partner, if and to what extent humedica will implement relief measures in the field of reconstruction.
On Luzon, the main island of the Philippines, in turn, medical missions still continue and at the beginning of January humedica will send out another team in order to help with medical treatment of the population.