Just back from Tsunami relief efforts, SCMM member Klint Kehley gave us all a bit of an update, and he has allowed me to share it here with you…
I just got back on wednesday. Things are going good. i am looking forward to the night at the races it was fun last year.
Just dropping a line to give an overview of my trip,and my experiences with different cultures.
Our first stop was in Singapore to pick-up additional staff and supplies. Singapore is very modern and clean city. I would say comparable to New York (smaller but the same hustle and bustle). Tons upon Tons of shopping centers (literally 15-20 blocks of high rise shopping centers, the prices weren’t any cheaper than the U.S..They have great public transportation. You can get around here speaking english easier than you can in San Diego. We were here 3 times twice we had overnight liberty for 3 day stretches.
The second Stop was Banda Aceh were we spent aboout two months doing Tsunami releif. I never got a chance to get off the ship due to how busy the O.R. was and all of the O.R. personnel were kept aboard to take care of all the surgeries. We worked about 14-16 hr days. We made huge differences in these peoples lives. From removing softball sized bladder stones (yes SOFTBALL sized) to removing huge growths from a little girls arm (we ended up removing her arm below the elbow, but I saw her a few days after and she was smiling and happy to have no pain and being able to move her arm. We did about 20 Femoral roddings (average hospital will do 4 a year) The letters we got from the people were amazing and we definately had a positve influence on these people. Their medical system is amazingly bad.
We stopped at a couple of smaller Islands to do medical and dental missions. We weren’t Included here because it was focused on medicine rather than surgery. Again I wasn’t able to get off the ship, or experience any of the culture.
The next stop was Nias after the earth quake. We spent about 3 weeks there. We worked 16-18 hr days on the day before we left I finally got off the ship and taught a suture class in their nursing school. Most of the building in Nias are little more than shacks, with corrugated metal roofs, but most of them had satellite dishes, and lots of people had cell phones. The destruction was pretty extensive, most of the solid buildings more than 1 story collapsed. Their canals were
blocked with debri. They just finished building a new operating room that was damaged beyond repair. they drive on either side of the road and actually move out of the way when people honk their horns (or they get run over, we received a few patients like that).
The nursing class seemed really young like 14-16 yr olds (never got a confirmation on age) they were curious well mannered and were willing to learn. I don’t think they understood any english (some of the spoke a little bit. their medical system was crude). The people seemd to age quickly though some of the 30 y/o looked to be in their 50’s the same was also true in Banda Aceh. The people were definately friendly and benefitted from the time we spent there giving aid they would have never had in their life. One guy had a femur that was broken 7 years before and hadn’t really walked on it since, walk after surgery. The was also soccer ball sized uterine tumors. Again we did a great deal of good here.
The last stop was Papua New Guinea. We were outside of a resort area, great snorkling. I was off the ship everyday we were here, about 5 days. We assisted them in surgeries and gave them some much needed supplies. This place was really strange because part of their practices we stopped doing 30 years ago in America (like reusing suture needes stuff that was done long ago but is unacceptable now). But they would have state of the art Sterilizers, but wrapped everything in linen. everyone walked around in flip-flops and were barefoot in the O.R. everyone was really friendly and spoke broken english/native dialect( english would only be Noun-Verb things like a,an, the, is, and were not included. most of the natives spoke a version of this. The hospital staff spoke english really well and communication was easy. We mainly contributed supplies at this one and assisted them(sometimes it felt like intruding) but
it was a great time
I got to meet some intersting people and learned a little about their culture. My personal accomplishments include (for you military folk) an impact NAM, I became a shellback (all of my “sea” time in the Navy was with Marines I have spent more time in deserts, jungles, and mountain tops than on a ship prior to this) I just have to do my board for ESWS, and I also got promoted. So personally this has been a good experience. Thank-you for all of your support
Thanks for sharing Klint, and welcome home!