Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
The devastation from the 7.7 earthquake and the hundreds of aftershocks was bad enough, but in late October 2010, a terrifying tsunami swept through the Indonesian Mentawai Islands cutting off relief and aid to the already devastated villages. Most of the hardest hit areas were so remote that medical care and aid was difficult in the best of scenarios and to add to the chaos, the largest storm in 20 years immediately followed the tsunami making any chance at immediate aid almost impossible.
Reach Out WorldWide assembled 12 team members and departed to the Indonesian City of Padang with medical supplies and aid provided by Direct Relief International. After landing in Indonesia the team enlisted the aid of Captain Ateng of the boat Nusantara, one of the few captain who was brave enough to make the 10 hour trek through the treacherous Mentawai Channel at the tail end of these storms. Without Captain Ateng and his crews help it would have been just about impossible to get the team to the remote outlying islands where they could provide medical aid, supplies and relief to hundreds of villagers.
The Mentawai Islands are a series of small islands and villages off the western coast of the main island of Sumatra, Indonesia, and many villages needed the team’s attention. Due to the remoteness of the islands and the lack of a true harbor, small watercraft had to be deployed from the main boat. One by one team members left the safety of their main vessel and loaded into the freezing choppy water with supplies and aid into the smaller crafts that could hold barley fit supplies and six people.
Once the team was able to make land the first goal was to make contact with the chief of the village leaders and establish a base for care. Make shift shelters had to be constructed for a proper place to begin helping those who needed care and start the road to recovery. Once a medical facility was ready to go the team began the task of helping those in need. The highly skilled and trained team that included a doctor and medics began to clean infections and care for those who had come down with illnesses such as gangrene, stomach illnesses and dehydration. Part of the mission became educating locals on continuous care for each other. Instruction on wound management, infection prevention and basic first aid were taught. Additionally the team provided water filters, generously donated by HURLEY h20, for each village and taught the population how to utilize the technology to its fullest. At the conclusion of the deployment the team had set up medical relief clinics at 11 villages and towns, providing enough water filtration and drinking water for over 1,000 locals a day. The team also used contacts to connect a local doctor with access to life saving supplies so the care could continue long after the team’s deployment was completed.
The ability for the great people of Indonesia to overcome such adversity and come together to help each other during such a time of turmoil was an inspiration to each and every member of the deployment team. Without the help of Captian Ateng and his crew and the generous boat owner, Direct Relief International, Dr. Gale Lawerance and the rest of the amazing people who went out of their way to provide help for those in need, Reach Out WorldWide would never have had the opportunity to assist those who they did. Terima kasih!