Including one nurse and one logistician

Two experienced volunteers from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Hong Kong have left this morning to join the relief projects in the severely struck area of Aceh in Indonesia.

MSF is one of the first organizations to start working in the highly devastated area. There are currently around 20 MSF volunteers working in Aceh and this number will be raised to approx. 30 by the beginning of next week. MSF has started providing consultation to patients and will participate in rebuilding the hospital, setting up mobile clinics and water & sanitation projects. In addition, MSF will continue to go to remote areas to carry out further assessments of the needs.

The first two Hong Kong volunteers, Ms. Elaine Lau, a registered nurse with the Hospital Authority, and Mr. Albert Ko, an Industrial and Manufacturing System Engineering research student at the University of Hong Kong, are both highly experienced MSF volunteers. Ms. Lau, who was already active with MSF when she was a student, first started as an office volunteer, later became a field volunteer, providing medical assistance in southern Sudan, Kosovo and Afghanistan, between 1999-2003.

Mr. Ko, a trained engineer, was assigned to missions in southern Sudan and Uzbekistan as a logistician who specialized in logistical support and management. He immediately made requests to his supervisor granting him leave after learning that he had been placed for a mission in Indonesia last night (December 31, 2004).

"Tidying up my apartment would usually be my 'routine' on New Year's eve, never would I have thought that this year would I be packing up to get ready to go to Indonesia, leaving behind a messy apartment. However, this New Year's eve would certainly be the most meaningful when compared with any other New Year's Eve before," says Mr. Ko when interviewed this morning before checking-in at the airport.

"Each and every MSF experienced volunteer has an ambition, to be involved in an MSF emergency intervention. I am very honored for being in the first batch of volunteers sent out by MSF-HK" Mr. Ko continued.

Ms. Lau, the other volunteer sent out to join the MSF project today, said before boarding the plane to Indonesia, "Most of my previous experience with MSF was either post-war or rehabilitation missions. Now, finally with my accumulated experiences, I can lend a helping hand to the victims of this enormous crisis. I am looking forward to work together with volunteers sent out from other MSF offices as one team to bring relief in the most efficient manner."

The duration of the mission of Ms. Lau and Mr. Ko will be one month, but may be extended depending on the humanitarian situation in Aceh.



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