Palu Earthquake and Tsunami ; PERDHAKI Emergency Respond Program

Palu  Earthquake and Tsunami ; PERDHAKI Emergency Respond Program


Kevin Octavianus Sugianto is a volunteer joining with PERDHAKI’s emergency respond program in Palu, to serve the people affected by earthquake and tsunami. He work in Perdhaki’s Health Post in Palu, Middle Sulawesi from 22 November 2018 to 5 Desember 2018.

The impressions of a volenteer

On November 15,  2018, through my friend, Edo, I was invited to become a volunteer joining with the Perdhaki Emergency Respons Programe in earthquake & tsunami disaster area in Palu, middle Sulawesi.

I accepted the invitation, because at that time I was boring while waiting the “internship” program, after finishing my study in a Medical Faculty.

When accepting the invitation, I was wondering with 2 aspects:

First : I didn’t know yet about Perdhaki’s organization. My knowledge regarding this organiation was very limited. The information about this organization in the internet was also limited.

Second :  I feel that I was not fitted with the terminology “volunteer”, because a volunteer should have high social attitude, didn’t expect any honorarium, far from materialistic intention. While, I was graduated from a private Medical school and hoping to get a lot of money after finishing the study, because the fee and cost during my study was very high, and I wish to replenish it as soon as posible. So, I think I was far away from to be a volunteer.

After short preparation and little  briefing, on 22 November I and my friend were going to the airport to be daparted to the disaster area in Palu. On the way to the area, I was confused with my job, because I didn’t know well the task and I didn’t know what should be the preparation to do this special task. Especially, because I was just graduated and have no  experiences working in a disaster emergency respond program.

At the airport, I met with Br Conrad, who will also going to Palu. While waiting for other member team, we have had an intensive discussion with Br Conrad. I heard a lot of his experiences in participating in previous Emergency Response program and I was convinced with my task, as I will work together with such experience volunteer person.

Finally, the  team were  fully completed : Me, Edo, Minggu, Hendrik, Apip, Irfan, and offcourse Br Conrad, as team leader and we were all  going boarding  on  the flight.

That evening, we arrived in Palu, through a frighten landing process, due to bad condition of airport runway which was damaged by previous earthquake. From the airport, we directly went to Perdhaki’s Boarding house. At the Boarding house, we met with Pak Gede, a volunteer who have been working in Palu since the beginning of the disaster. We also met with the volunteers from other organizations, who also stay in the same house.

I was shocked with the condition of the boarding house:  the dirty bath room, no hot water and the dim lighting, the dirty and smell bad mattress, dirty food,  many mosquitos and flies. This condition was far away from my house’s condition and so it made me very unhappy. I was thinking, how can I survive to stay in such bad condition for 14 days as scheduled. Especially, I had very bad feeling during bath and during sleep, because the dirty condition of the fascilities. It turned out, that the other volunteers also had the same bad feeling like me, and so we shared the same feeling with them and giving the motivation to each other. However, we had to be strong in that condition, until we finish the mission.

Every day, in the morning, we departed to work at the Health Posts, using the old blue car, which was functioning as ambulance car. This car have no air conditioning. So, due to very hot tempertaure in Palu, we have to open all the car’s windows in order to let the wind flowing in, although the dirty dust will also flowing in too. We had no other choice !  Therefore, the journey from   the boarding house to Health Posts vv was also a very hard challenges for me.

All of it : bad condition of the car, dirty bathroom, dirty bed room, dirty food, many mosquitos and flies, cause me feel like live in the hell, especially in the first days of the mission.

The adaptation process for a volunteer, is not only the bad condition of the boarding house and the transportation, but also the work as medical doctor. In providing the medical services, I feel that all the knowledge which were obtained in the medical school, seems not approriate anymore in this field. I had to work in an inproper situation : limited medicine, limited medical equipment, too many patients, dusted and hot practice room and also the difficult communication with the patients due to different language. For a new graduated medical doctor, who usually work in a good condition (good medical practice room, a lot of medicine, sophisticated medical equipment), will be confused when confronting with the real inproper situation in the field.

My first encounter with the real situation, was like entetring in a chastisement condition. However, it also caused a turn back in my life, to survive and enjoy in such bad condition.

Every night, after back from the Health Post, we always conduct an  internal meeting, to discuss the problem faced in the Health post  and discussing how to solve the problem. In every meeting, Br Conrad and Pak Gede, shared there experiences while joining with previous Perdhaki ER program, and the tips and tricks on how to be a success volunteer in the disaster emergency program. The one that was stressing by them , which is always remember by me, is “serve the people with whole sincere heart”. It is a slogan that are showed in every instititions, either bank, hospital, restaurant, etc,  but ussualy only as an ornament in the wall and without sincere implementation. Br Conrad and pak Gede, alway tell me that the sick people will not cured only by medicines, but will be cured by our sincere heart and by our prayer. We shouldnot work as drug machine, which only ask the patient’s name, their story of illness and giving medicine imediately. Apparently, the patients are willing to talk and willing someone hear to them, they are hoping that there are some one who are caring  them. If they feel happy, they sometimes will be cured even before they are taking medicines.

Therefore, in our health service provided in the Health Post, we always  serve the patients by sencere wholeheartedly , eventhough we were very tired. No matter, how many the number of the patients served by us, we always providing enough time to hear the client’s story and always try to be friendly. During the study, we always thinking about the correct diagnosis, the correct medicine, the quick examination, but less empathy or false empathy. We had to change that approach, to become more empathy to the clients, hearing to the patients, talking to patients and enjoying our work.

The topic of the discussion in every night meeting, then changing from formerly complaining the limited medicine, limited equipment and bad fascilities, move to the topic of the condition of the patients served and enjoying our work. We enjoyed to hear the patients, to talk to the patients, eventhough the big number of the patients and eventhough the tireness. We were very happy if the face of the patients was changed from formerly looked sad, feel suffering, feel lost of hope due to sickness and wrecked house and then after talking with us they become brighter, smile and feel relieved. Our team always try to follow up the patients to know the improvement of their health after receiving our treatment. Sometimes we visit them in their villages, to ensure that their health were improved and they feel relieved.

From this experiences, I was aware that the true appreciation to our work is not money. The true appreciation to our work are when the patients come back to us to continue the medical treatment given by us, and when the patients coming to us just for saying thank you and when the patients bring other sick people to us and witnessing that our services was very helpfull for them.

The satisfaction through money will expired quickly. But the satisfaction through the patient’s health improvement, their smile and their happiness, will last long. It even will increasing our energy and strong motivation to help the people better and better.

After my mission in Palu finish, I was going back to my home.

I am very thankfull that I was given opportunity to become a volunteer in a disaster area. Through this experience, I am becoming a brave person and I  learn much many things in the field, from everybody there.

As a young doctor, I hope I will keep the spirit of serving the suffering people, which I got in Palu. And I hope I will keep it forever in my heart.

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