terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Nias, Part Four

Nias #18
Originally uploaded by Terz.

08 April 2005
The promised beer party the previous night didn't happen but I didn't need the additional help sleeping anyway. I was knackered after the day's labours. And now that there's electricity again, the fan could be left on all night to cool the interior of the tent. It's the first good sleep I've had in a while.

There was a second aftershock the previous night (about an hour after the first one), and like the Donnie Wahlberg character from Band of Brothers (Carwood Lipton, "The Breaking Point"), it wasn't funny anymore the second time around. It lasted only 2 seconds, but it was enough for me to start feeling some concern for the team who would be staying for another four days in Nias.

There is a very real fear that there might be a meningitis outbreak in Nias. One of the patients we saw yesterday had all the signs and symptoms (inlcuding photophobia already), and W insisted that the nurses who tended to the man take a prophylaxis to counter the effects. J was reminded to bring along a dose for Tommy, our interpreter, today. As I write this, Tommy's looking freaked as J explains the reason for the dosing to him. He doesn't come back in the afternoon; the nurses hope he's all right.

We continue to see a lot of cases of injuries that have become septic. I wonder about the medical help that these people have received since the earthquake and rage at the ineptitude of the people who have fucked up these patients more than the earthquake had. The smell, coming from the next table where a young boy, barely four, sits whimpering as doctors drain the pus from his infected wound, is unbearable. There is nothing I can do here except to give the boy looks of comfort as he undergoes his ordeal.

Nias #24
Originally uploaded by Terz.

I've just gotten used to the weather and living conditions, and it's already my last, real full day in Gunungsitoli. With the completion of most of my duties as logistician (almost everything is in place now, so there's very little else for me to do), I'm getting a little more alone time, which gives me time to think about my experience in this place.

Nias #19
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Nias #20
Originally uploaded by Terz.

I take a final walk through town, accompanying W and H, whose flight has been postponed as well (they would leave Gunungsitoli the same time I would), who are briefing a Dr M of the Red Cross on the SOPs of all the NGOs operating in the area. The people in Nias are more prepared to go back to their old lives more readily than the people in Meulaboh. Even while under the constant and still-present threat of further tremors, locals have begin rebuilding their homes and their lives. I take a final trip up to the IDP and bid the refugees there a final farewell; they have taken down one of the tents and many are also preparing to return to their homes in the town.

Nias #21
Originally uploaded by Terz.

I guess everyone is ready to go back home.

Nias #22
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Nias #23
Originally uploaded by Terz.

F was asked by a patient this morning: why is the world caring so much and doing so much for us, but not Indonesians?

The house received a tsunami-/aftershock warning notice from the authorities today. In it, it tells residents that it is normal to have several aftershocks a day of 4 to 6.8 magnitude up to two weeks after a big quake. It also says that because of the geographical location of Gunungsitoli, there is no risk of a tsunami hitting the town. However, it adds, if residents are paranoid, all those who live within 1 km of the shore are advised to run inland for 2 km or seek the nearest area of elevation. That is scant comfort for us since we live only 50m from the shore (which would have been awesome if we were there on a beach vacation) - we'd have to make up the remaining 950 m before running the prescribed 2 km to get to safety.

If only the IPPT had this kind of motivation.

Nias #26
Originally uploaded by Terz.

The Sister continues to drug the dog. We hope it doesn't become addicted to Xanax by the time we leave. As I go to bed that night, I notice the dog fast asleep on the doorstop of our neighbour's house.

Nias #25
Originally uploaded by Terz.


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