14TH NOVEMBER 2009
We were assembled at LCCT airport at around 12.30pm. Checking-in and money changing were swift as we sat in Marry Brown receiving our briefing from Ms. Diyana and soon after Mr Shahran came by for final instructions of our mission. It was the last call for our flight as we made our way through the boarding. There was a sense of uncertainty and excitement as we sat in our seats. It was a smooth take off, the pilot was excellent. The flight to Padang was a quick one, but the view from the sky was breath-taking. Landing was superb also, swift and graceful.
Our arrival at the airport was greeted warmly by Haji Hani and Pak Yus. We made a quick pit stop to Padang town to buy some medicinal supplies. The environment was so different from the usual metropolitan KL scene that I was use to. What caught my eye was house simple the pharmacies appeared, somewhat equivalent to our traditional herb stalls in KL? After buying the supplies, we had our first taste of Nasi Padang at a nice restaurant called Lamun Ombak. It was a nice change from our normal diet at home.
We arrived at the MRA secretariat located in Jati, Pariaman. It was a single storey bungalow already rented for a year under MRA. I would say it was quite neat with all the facilities. After a short briefing, we decided to do the first most important thing – rearrange our medicine stock and prepare our boxes.
15 NOVEMBER 2009
The one hour time difference messed up our clocks but luckily since Malaysia is earlier by one hour, we were actually overly punctual. Breakfast was simple bread and jam from bread bought earlier in Padang when we landed. The journey to our clinic site was a long one. It was situated in the region of Agam, north of Pariaman called South Melalak – a small village called Talago. Talago suffered a great impact during the earth quake where 7 houses were buried under heaps of land. A lot of houses were damaged and few died.
We arrived around 9.30 am and set camp at the Talago Mosque. Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia led by Uztaz Jamal was there too and they gave the ‘tazkirah’ for the people. Our clinic was a success despite the heavy downpour and the mini flood that occurred at our impromptu pharmacy. We treated 60 patients altogether with the main complaints of rheumatism and back pain. Before leaving, we scoured the small settlement to take a look at the remains of the landslide that occurred during the earth quake. Lunch was again Nasi Padang, at a nice small restaurant above a pond. On our way back, we dropped by to see the house that MRA built to help the people. Afterwards, we stopped by the market to stock on supplies. Dinner was simple fried rice courtesy of Azmee.
16 NOVEMBER 2009
It was only the 3rd day, yet everyone agreed that we were quite fed up of Nasi Padang. I whipped up some fried beehoon for breakfast from the items we brought from the market the day before. Today, we visited Sungai Rambai where we were greeted by the head of the village. We were given the community hall to be used as our clinic. It was a really hot day and there wasn’t any good ventilation in the hall. Luckily the toilet was quite decent. The clinic started at about 10 am and we found ourselves soon surrounded by locals of many ages. We saw 95 patients altogether, but ironically the main complaint was hypertension. Haji Hani wasn’t feeling so well, and I being surrounded in a small, stuffy area started to have a massive headache tending to patients that had difficulty understanding what I was trying to say. Luckily, we stopped the registrations, and Haji seeing me struggling to cope with the load came to help. I got up from my seat, feeling very woozy and giddy, sweating away in the hot stuffy room with traces of tobacco smell from the smoking male patients. I dashed to the toilet where I threw up, instantly feeling a lot better. I washed my face and quickly resumed my duties. My team was worried because I looked so pale. Luckily, we managed to finish around 2 pm. Lunch was Nasi Padang again, but the nice change that it was by the seaside, and I welcomed the reassuring breeze. We got home and I rested most the afternoon away. Haji Hani himself was unwell and I prescribed him some medication and antibiotics.
That night, we went to a nearby pharmacy to stock up on LMS and eye drops. We stopped by a mini market where I found some instant Cappuccino. Dinner was bakso from a nearby stall. With coffee in my system, my headache started to clear and I was more energetic than ever. It was caffeine withdrawal syndrome after all. Well at least I found a cure early. That night we had an unexpected guest. A man fell off his motorcycle after hitting a hole on the dark road. He sustained abrasions over the right side of his face, arm and knee. We dressed him and gave him some medications and sent him on his way.
To be continued tomorrow……