Nora Hellman is an ER nurse from Montana—she’s been to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to provide medical care with International Medical Corps. She’s been to the Philippines after the devastating 2013 tsunami. Most recently, she was in South Sudan, helping to care for the victims of a brutal civil war.
When she was in South Sudan, she worked with six student nurses from a school in the capital city that is supported by International Medical Corps. These student nurses had already been forced to flee the city of Juba and their nursing school, and circumstances put them in a camp filled with people who couldn’t go home because of the violence. Every day, they were treating gunshot wounds, machete wounds and malaria. According to Nora “Even when we couldn’t reach the clinic, they continued to treat patients, because that’s what their training with International Medical Corps taught them to do.”
The six young nurses she worked with faced the violence and fear of war every day—but they could not stand by while their countrymen suffered. They chose to do something to help; they chose to become nurses. Nora reflects, “I believe they are the hope of their country—they and all who refuse to give in to despair and instead work to make a difference.” Those nurses are still in South Sudan now, tending to the injured and training families about how to stay healthy.
In conclusion Nora reflects, “Was my work there more important for the lives I helped to save in our triage tents—or for the student nurses I trained who will continue our work in the years to come? All I know is that I’m proud of them—and I’m proud to be a part of International Medical Corps.” Thanks to the generous support of GlobalGiving and other donors International Medical Corps is able to put an emphasis on training – even in the midst of disaster – helping ensure that families and communities have the resources needed to stay healthy in the long-term.
Immediately after the typhoon hit the Philippines nearly one year ago, Pamela traveled over 1,000 kilometers from Manila to Tacloban to search for her brother. It look her 3 days to make the journey, and then she searched the city for 4 agonizing days.
She recalls her arrival into the city after her long journey: “[The] strong smell of dead bodies. When we reached Tacloban, we started seeing dead bodies along the street, cars had been burned, houses with no roofs. Many places had been looted because people were hungry…Like a nuclear bomb, so damaged like Hiroshima.”
Typhoon Haiyan left widespread devastation affecting an estimated 16 million people. International Medical Corps was on the ground in the Philippines within 24 hours of the disaster, providing emergency care to help those who needed it most.
In the Philippines, our teams provided a comprehensive emergency response, delivering 14,625 health consultations in the first 6 weeks alone. Our First Responders were able to reach remote communities cut off from health care and basic services by rapidly implementing a network of mobile medical units.
That was a year ago and the work is far from done. Emergency relief helps in the beginning, but it takes a long time for a community to recover from such a disaster.
Pamela was one of the lucky ones—she did find her brother, alive and without major injuries. But the things she saw in Tacloban while searching for him made a huge impact on her. It was a bittersweet drive back to safety. “It was hard for me to leave…I was happy I found my brother, but sad that I had to leave others behind…I didn’t know what would happen to them. I gave them all the food we had from Manila, but it was not enough.” Pamela’s brave, challenging, and selfless acts didn’t end there.
When she saw that she could join International Medical Corps, she knew it was her opportunity to help her family and her province.Pamela now works with International Medical Corps, overseeing reconstruction and rehabilitation of health centers. She’s helped build a rural health unit and rehabilitate 10 primary health stations. 500 patients can be seen in these places each day.
To address the critical health care needs in the aftermath of the storm, International Medical Corps established four programs in the areas of: health; nutrition; mental health; and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in schools. Through all of these programs, the goal has been to support underserved and rural communities as they “build back better.” The generous support of GlobalGiving and other donors is critical in helping us achieve this goal of both recovery and increased resilience to future natural disasters in the Philippines.
International Medical Corps is taking a two-pronged approach, treatment and training, to address the most immediate, critical needs of the Ebola outbreak and build the capacity of the national health care system to address this epidemic and meet the challenges of future outbreaks as well.
With a 70-bed Ebola Treatment Unit up and running in Bong County, Liberia and a 50-bed unit soon scheduled to open in Lunsar, Sierra Leone, International Medical Corps is currently in discussions to open two additional units in the region over the next several weeks. Once open, units will operate for a minimum of 6 months. Each unit will require 200+ trained staff working in 24/7 shifts to provide treatment and training for patients. In both Liberia and Sierra Leone, 90% of treatment unit staff will be local healthcare workers trained in Ebola treatment and prevention.
To meet the critical staffing needs on the ground – the UN Development Program in Liberia estimated that it needs 40,000 trained community healthcare workers in that country alone -- International Medical Corps has developed a broad-based training strategy that will provide training to local communities and community-based organizations; international healthcare workers and volunteers; local, national staff; and partner organizations.
Training will be delivered through Ebola Training Centers, adjacent to treatment units, allowing for classroom education and monitored, hands-on experience in treatment units for new staff and partner organizations – equipping additional organizations with the skills needed to open their own units. International Medical Corps is also deploying mobile support teams which will provide ongoing training and support to treatment unit staff and partner organizations – training thousands of new frontline healthcare workers in the next six months.