Medical Advisors from VPS Healthcare-Al Ain support All Hearts and Hands Project

published on: 11th november, 2018

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal near the capital city of Kathmandu, the worst of its kind in more than 80 years. More than 9,000 people lost their lives, a further 23,000 were injured and the destruction of infrastructure and homes was massive. The earthquake resulted in more than 5,000 schools being damaged or completely destroyed. On May 12, 2015, a second 7.3 earthquake struck the country, causing further devastation and loss of lives.

Picture Credit: All Hands and Hearts
The AHAH base camp, where the volunteers and Burjeel Royal Hospital nurse Thomas Joseph and Medeor 24×7 International Hospital Nurse Sajeer Poonthala, are staying

AHAH is a non-profit organization that “addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters by engaging and leveraging volunteers, partner organizations, and local communities.”

Over the past three years, All Hands and Hearts (AHAH) has taken on the task of rebuilding structures in these communities, which is the main focus of the program starting in 2018.

Rebuilding schools

Picture Credit: All Hands and Hearts
The Shree Ma Vi school site, one of the three schools AHAH is supporting. They are providing 6-8 rooms and toilets facilities

Rebuilding schools entails the ground-up construction of permanent structures like classrooms, toilets, handwashing facilities, and retaining walls. Earthquake damaged areas are full of hazards such as jagged glass, broken timbers, sharp rusty nails, corrugated iron sheets, piercing pieces of rebar to name a few.

AHAH rebuilt 13 schools in Nepal following the 2015 earthquakes. AHAH will be rebuilding a school in the Sindhuli District, approximately six hours away from Kathmandu. Before the 2015 earthquakes, Shree Ma Vi School had 14 classrooms including one office room, a lab room, plus bathrooms. The school serves ECD through to grade 10 with 190 children enrolled. All Hands and Hearts will build a safe, earthquake resilient structure with classrooms and toilet facilities to enable the School to successfully implement their regular classes at this school, leading to an increased standard of education and a returned sense of safety and normality. Additionally, there are plans to implement a water filtration system to ensure the school community has a reliable source of safe drinking water.

Picture Credit: All Hands and Hearts
Burjeel Royal Hospital and Medeor 24×7 International Hospital nurses, Thomas Joseph and Sajeer Poonthala, in Nepal

There are over 60 volunteers and staff at the site. All Hands and Hearts covers the shelter, food, tools, materials, transport and management that make the volunteers stay possible. They try to purchase all materials and tools in the community where they work to support the local economy and ensure the cultural relevance and appropriateness of the purchases.

Given the remote location, mobile internet connection is virtually non-existent. The closest ATM is approximately one hour away by bus. The weather in November is normally quite pleasant but nights get colder and windier, with average temperatures between 10°C – 24°C.

Volunteers live together, work together and eat together at the site. The number of volunteers can reach up to 100 at peaks. Work days are Sunday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4 pm.

The work is full of its own rewards but working in a post-disaster environment can be tiring and stressful. All volunteers staying long-term are required to take a minimum 3-night break away from the program every 30 days and a minimum 7-night break from program every 90 and 120 days.

What we are doing

Picture Credit: All Hands and Hearts

In the Year of Zayed, Burjeel Royal Hospital and Medeor 24×7 International Hospital are proud to support the mission by having two of our nurses, Thomas Joseph and Sajeer Poonthala, in Nepal with the volunteers.

Due to the nature of the work performed and the possible extreme conditions, illness and injury on the sites can be frequent. Given that the nearest medical facility almost 90 minutes away, our Medical Advisors will be a point of contact and resource for minor illnesses and injuries which may occur at either a job site or base camp and to help prepare for medical emergency responses, if needed.

This program would provide a long-term strategy for ongoing health and safety advice by allowing for continuity of any treatment and volunteer monitoring. This will result in fewer volunteer sick days and therefore more disaster-affected communities can be assisted.

With teams highly experienced in remote location medical management, this program not only aligns with VPS Healthcare’s expertise in providing onsite medical services, support in preventive measures, emergencies, and day-to-day treatments, but also clinical outreach programs to provide healthcare advice for people in isolated areas.

Every 1-2 weeks, the volunteers give demonstrations on masonry, etc. to the local community.Thomas and Sajeer will also be providing basic first aid, health and hygiene awareness classes for the villagers in these disaster-affected communities.

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