November 20, 2013

Martine Bouchard is an MSF nurse from Saint Jerome, Quebec who responded to the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. She posted this to the MSF Philippines blog on November 20.

I arrived first in Manila and then flew the next day to Roxas City on Panay Island. I went to assess the eastern coast of Panay. In some of the places we visited, up to 95% of the homes were destroyed.These are fishermen’s villages, and the houses were constructed from bamboo. There was no way they could survive the force of the typhoon. The people have completely lost their livelihoods.I’ve been surprised and humbled that even in the face of all this, the people in the villages were so happy to see us. They welcomed us, shaking our hands, always with a smile. I was impressed by their determination to rebuild their lives, only days after they were torn apart.We are now based in Estancia. We’ve got three mobile clinic teams who go to a different location each day, trying to reach the more remote locations where people have not been helped yet.Yesterday, we went to a village near Estancia. It was completely destroyed. We set up in the former health clinic and received a lot of patients.Today was the same. We went to another remote village and the patients did not stop coming. It is clear that there are massive needs.As MSF, we are not going to save the country. But many people are currently without medical care and we will try to fill that gap until services are restored.We are mainly treating respiratory infections, and we’ve also seen some patients with diarrhea. Without proper shelter, a lot of people have colds and fevers, especially the kids.We are also seeing people who have been affected mentally by the typhoon. Psychological care is going to become an important part of our program.We are working alongside Filipino Ministry of Health staff, who have been so generous with their time and their insights. The cooperation is impeccable.One of the nurses has been working since the day after the typhoon and hasn’t stopped since. She has been traumatized herself. It is remarkable that she continues every day, that she still wants to give everything to her people.Working with the international MSF staff has been great. It is so impressive to see an emergency team swing into action. Everything happens so fast.This is the first time I have worked in an emergency, and it has been superb to learn from all the people who have experience working in these situations.The Filipinos have been through hell, but I have only seen strength in the past week. That has been incredible to witness. Their resilience is nothing short of extraordinary.

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