IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 93

05 A Changing World | Tsunami
Little Things
Matter Too
Phuket Airport presented Pascal with
a further problem to solve. He came
across an elderly French couple and
their daughter. The husband had
Alzheimer’s disease and the wife and
her daughter had injuries sustained in
the tsunami. The wife was very
distressed as the family were trying to
get back to France but the only airline
with spare seats would not allow them
to take their beloved puppy on board.
The wife appealed to Pascal who
rallied his troops.
Whilst Mui Huat Tan was phoning
the airline’s head office to persuade
them to change their minds, Pascal
made a direct appeal to the airline’s
local management team at the airport.
Meanwhile Dr Roger Farrow spotted
a film crew approaching the crying
women and pointed out to Pascal that
the threat of publicity could be useful
leverage. Their combined efforts paid
off. The airline changed its mind and
said the dog could go on board as
long as it was sleeping.
Luckily a senior French anaesthetist
was also returning to France so Pascal
asked him to keep the puppy asleep
during the flight. Neither of them had
sedated a dog before so they had to
guess the dosage. They got it right
and the dog slept happily all the way
home to France.
Right: After the
tsunami, Banda Aceh,
Sumatra, Indonesia,
27 December 2004.
Credit: Corbis
North Sumatra Relief Fund
North Sumatra was closest to the epicentre of the
earthquake and suffered the greatest devastation.
Mike Hancock describes the scene a day after the
tsunami hit Banda Aceh:
“It was devastation on a massive scale. Half the
town was gone, the hospital was flowing with mud,
bodies were everywhere. The medical staff were
traumatised – they and their families were affected
too. As well as the physical damage there was great
psychological damage.”
We decided to set up the International SOS North
Sumatra Relief Fund to support the community in
the medium to long term. The fund had raised over
$350,000 US dollars when it closed in May 2005
and we worked closely with AUSAID to identify
suitable projects.
For the fund’s inaugural project, International SOS
teamed up with the International Baccalaureate
Organization to deliver Level 2 first aid training to
24 teachers from the Aceh Besar and Banda Aceh
districts of Sumatra.
Another project funded a three-year nursing
scholarship programme for 40 top students
attending the Politeknik Kesehatan (POLTEKKES)
Departemen Kesehatan RI Jurusan Keperawatan
– the public nursing academy in Banda Aceh which
was largely destroyed by the tsunami.
Mike Hancock who was administrator of the
fund says:
“The North Sumatra Relief Fund allowed us to
develop a co-ordinated structure to support the
provision of well-trained medical staff to the
community. Many of the medical staff in Aceh had
simply disappeared and NGO demands had drained
much of the national health service’s workforce.
The training provided by the fund helped to develop
careers for many orphaned youngsters.”


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