19:23.85S169:14.7E Treat patients in pyjamas
Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Thu 30 Apr 2015 09:27
We are now on Tanas west side, another rolly anchorage but we are not here for our own comfort.
Last blog we left you when Ellinor was ashore on one of the northern villages.
They needed food, had not got any since a helicopter drop soon after the hurricane. They tried to live on crabs and fishing. All their gardens were killed by salt water spray. Next village, same situation it all came to a need of 4,3 tons of food.
That was relayed back to Lenaka where Lil Explorer waited for the message.
After headcound and check for medical aid, we went to find protection here on the west side.
As we anchored a small boy; Jessaya paddled out on his little outrigger and asked if there was a doctor? His grandpa was ill.
So we just dropped anchor and went ashore with the dinghy, and now it is starting to get more adventureus when landing, we are not in protected bays anymore where you look for shelter and comfort. We were almost washed ashore by the waves...
There we met some students that offered to help us to find the way and translate. We walked and climbed a bit and finally made it to an elderly couple, Jessayas grand parents. He lives with them, that is custom in Vanuatu that you might have 5-6 kids but you can give them away to other family members to make it easier to feed them. The man thought he had some serious heart problem but soon Ellinor could tell him that it was an acid/stomach problem and he got some medicine for that.
Back to the boat in the dark and we fell asleep quite soon as it had been a long day.
This morning as we looked out there was another patient sitting in an outrigger canoe. One of his legs was in bad shape and he asked if we could look at it. Ellinor, being the person she is, just asked him up on the boat and started to treat him in pyjamas.
He told us that there were several people in the villages around that needed help. So we took a discussion with Jonathan about what to do.
Since we had no cargo to deliver (yes we have food to distribute but not enough) and Shannon on Lil Explorer could run clinics as they delivered food up north we decided to stay here and help out. The guy with the damaged leg was going to paddle away to give the message and then meet us at one of the beaches 2 miles up from here. We had our breakfast and the whole family took off, this time is was only Salsa crew on assignment. First beach, Ellinor treated an elderly woman, all houses were gone, they lived under temporary roofs made of palm leafs. Managed but would welcome some food, we told them trucks under way will be here Saturday or Monday (oh yes you do not work on Sundays in the Pacific, does not matter what you do).
Next place, a woman and a child, most of the people had moved into a cave, to seek shelter.
Then it was time to climb up the mountain to reach the main village Lounanit.
The guy with the bad leg David first as our guide and then we came with backpacks and a big bucket with medicines etc.
Houses on the way flattened to the ground, enormous trees just laying around. The guide apologised for the mess (!).
Once in the village we saw the chief and he welcomed us and let us have his house as a clinic. He was there all day and made sure doctor and patients understood each other. Now you might start to think about privacy and a doctors visit, there is no such thing here.
They all go in as a group and all are around as you are examined. They laugh when the examined person does something (like breath heavily so Ellinor can listen to lungs). So the chiefs house was full, people waiting outside and it was a lot about pain and infections. I acted as the secretary (the goverment in Vanuatu wants to know of every treatment and what we give out), and also as a phamacist (well counting tablets etc).
In total Ellinor had 26 patients and then it was time to climb down again. The kids had played and made a long excursion on their own.
They were tyred and dirty. In the dinghy the guide asked if we could visit his family on the way, hard to say no. And there we met 4-5 kids with lots of infectious wounds on their legs. Obviously all the branches and trees that have been downed by the storm are full of sharp branches etc. The kids hurt themselves a lot and then nobody takes care of it, flies (and there are plenty of them) get into the wounds and make things worse.
So when we ame back to the boat by 1700 we have had breakfast and a few peanuts, one sandwich each, all day. It was nice to be back home.
One thing I have not meantioned is that despite peoples great atitude and bravery they show a lot of stress symptoms according to the doctors.
Being here in a boat and provide help is perfect, we are fully selfsustainable, we need no help from ashore to survive, we make our own fresh water, we have our food and we get away from the tragic scenery when done. We are also far out and very seldom have to deal with all the flies when on board.
After dark ChezNouis and Lil Explorer came in and they have had a hard day to. The anchorages where they had to unload have been really bumpy and 4 tons of food does not come off easily at sea.
You might wonder why we do not just give our food away to those we meet, well here fairness is everything. So if we give food to somebody we can start a mess. You either have for everybody or you do not give out anything. Harsh.