A midnight rain made for a muddy start to day three of Operation Pacific Angel in Pekanbaru, Indonesia. Project HOPE’s two medical volunteers got right to work continuing with their help readying the pharmacy for tomorrow’s first patients. Blankets were hung to create private spaces for examinations, shopping lists created for any additional supplies and cots built for a variety of needs. The interior spaces were transformed from large empty tents into an operational HARRT facility ready for a onslaught of visitors.
This year’s joint operation between the US Air Force’s two medical humanitarian units, HARRT and Pacific Angel, includes a multi-national cooperation between medical personnel from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Singapore and Timor Leste. A large staff of local translators and assistants also joins the mission to help in successful operations. These personnel received a morning of orientation detailing the ideas behind the mission and what to expect in the week ahead.
Susan Opas and Noreen Prokuski were active in many of the day’s activities and most involved with a Subject Matter Expert Exchange for approximately 23 local midwives concerning women’s health and the importance of regular exams. It became a comfortable space to learn about maternal care in both countries. Eager questions were asked thorough a translator and everyone walked away with a better understanding of issues facing local women and their pregnancies. “Everyone blossoms when we start talking about babies, no matter what culture,” Opas says.
Assembling military cots is different story though. Opas says she earned a D- at her first attempt of assembling the cots for the hospital tent. “Hopefully it was done well enough that they won’t collapse tomorrow,” she says with a smile, knowing her assembly work will be double-checked before patients arrive.
The afternoon continued with a formal opening ceremony for the Pacific Angel 2011, attended by local VIPs and everyone involved in the operation. The proceedings attracted hundreds of audience members and took place under an enormous, suspended parachute in a field between the tent city and clinic. They opened with a prayer followed by a traditional dance in local costumes. Speeches continued from every organization involved in this year’s Pacific Angel, all translated from English to Indonesian as required. The VIPs were then given a tour of the tents and their enclosed facilities.
Excitement runs high for the first patients tomorrow morning at 0900, day one of six that the clinic will be open for business.
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