Nurse Ms Elaine Lau Wan Ling gives a full account of their rescue work
January 3, 2005 (Banda Aceh)
January 1 morning, I left Hong Kong for Jakarta, Indonesia, together with another volunteer relief worker Mr Albert Ko Wing Yin. We were then aboard a cargo plane carrying medical supplies and some trucks to Aceh from Jakarta. When we got there, it was already 4am on January 2.
We were so exhausted with the non stop flights, yet, we didn't stop and take rest, we started work right away.
Aceh is completely smashed, about 60% of the land has been completely shattered, 1/3 of the land was flooded, and there were dead bodies every where.
The situation in the hospital was bad. There are only two hospitals left in Aceh, beds are not enough, the injured can only lie on the floor to wait for treatment. Other relief workers told me that most of the buildings were destroyed, people have no home to go, they have to stay in temples, schools until aid goes to them.
When I got to the hospital on January 2, I was immediately assigned to the mobile medical supplies center. From administrative work to moving medical supplies to the truck, I was involved. It was already midnight when all the work was done. As resources are limited including clean water in the site, we were only given a little bucket of water for cleaning our thoroughly sweated body. There are two separate bedrooms for male and female relief workers. We got no beds, only mattresses. The weather was so hot, the room was so crowded and full of mosquitoes, I could hardly go to sleep even though I have been on a few missions before. Yet, I am in fact luckier than Albert who had to sleep on a car as the bedroom for male relief workers was overcrowded.
For Albert, he has made the best use of his experience from his past relief aid work in other parts of the world. In the shortest period of time, he found suitable locations and turned them into warehouses for the keeping of medical supplies and materials that were delivered to Aceh from Medecins Sans Frontieres. He also worked with other team members to rebuild the water supplies facilities, in the hope of getting the water supply system up and running within the shortest time frame.
Today, I followed one of the mobile medical teams to a remote area. Through door to door visit, we got a better picture of what kinds of medical services are needed there hence to arrange necessary and appropriate aid work. We were also able to locate more and more victims there and provided them medical treatment.
Other relief teams are also working around the clock. Other than working in the hospital and mobile medical center, the teams donated some corpse bags to the local organizations, and shared information on to handle the dead bodies properly, especially sanitation concerns so to avoid the outbreak of plague.
Nurse Ms Elaine Lau Wan Ling and Research student from the Industrial Engineering Department, Univerity of Hong Kong Mr Albert Ko Wing yin, both of them are experienced relief workers from Médecins Sans Frontières Hong Kong. Ms Lau has been actively involved in MSF relief work since she was a student nurse. She was a volunteer worker in MSF Hong Kong office then. Later on, she became an MSF field volunteer. From 1999 to 2003, Ms Lau participated in the relief work in South Sudan, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Mr Ko is a very experienced engineer, and is skilled with logistics management. He has worked in South Sudan and Uzbekistan, from 2000 to 2001. Ms Lau and Mr Ko left Hong Kong for Aceh on January 1.