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Posted By: Kris Radder on April 20, 2011

Labels: Disaster and Health Crisis Missions, Tonga , Health Care Education, Humanitarian Aid, Volunteers

The energy is flowing high as the medical operations in the Kingdom of Tonga begins.

Two Project HOPE volunteers, Bill Aiken and Jo Ann Bennett were among the medical personnel crowded onboard the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1665 as it headed to the main island of Tonga. 

“It was wonderful, one of the best days I had in weeks," said Aiken, who has been onboard the USS Cleveland since it left the West Coast of the U.S. late last month. “I treated people in need of medical care and had the opportunity to work with a very sweet and talented nurse who helped me get patients quickly registered.”  

As the day began, it was a bit crazy setting up the medical site and getting the patient flow moving. But before long, the medical crew had the make-shift clinic running like calm and ordered machine. 

In just five hours time, Aiken was able to see about 169 patients during the just the first day of care at the main medical site.  

Another HOPE volunteer, Maureen Kisicki took a thrilling ride on a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat to a remote medical site on another part of the island nation in Kappa.

With the waters as clear as the sky, and the warm sun shining, the medical team in Kappa quickly transformed a school house into a medical clinic. 

Kisicki provided patient in-take services and helped out throughout the clinic.  

The medical team was the talk of the village, and as the long day of medical care came to a close, the locals brought gifts of fresh coconuts and hand woven baskets to the volunteer medical teams.  

Members of Project HOPE team and other medical staff made it back to the USS Cleveland just in time to grab a bit of rest before another busy day of care tomorrow. Yes they were tired, but the smiles on their faces and the stories they shared of making a real difference in the health of the people they treated spread a contagious energy throughout the ship for the continuing work ahead.

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