Caring for those who are isolated
Letter to Friends around the World # 86

Adonis is a medical student from Cameroon. Wherever he goes, whether it is Togo, Morocco, or elsewhere in the world, he is determined to reach out to the most isolated populations: “I want to go to remote areas so I can volunteer my time and help people get through difficult situations.” Here, he shares with us his experiences in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

I decided to spend my 2013 annual leave by doing volunteer work, donating my knowledge and time to those in need. Thanks to financial support from friends, I was able to travel to the Philippines to assist victims of the typhoon.

One day, I had finished work earlier than usual and decided to spend time down by the sea. This is when I noticed a very flat island. I learnt that it was called Salvacio and that it was badly damaged by the typhoon. It had been submerged, and because there are no mountains, the population had nowhere to find shelter.

Some of them had clung to coconut trees to survive, but the wind was extremely strong and uprooted the trees. Others found themselves in the sea, fighting against the waves. It was under these conditions that many of the islanders died during the typhoon. When it was over, the majority of the survivors were unable to get to the aid centres as they could not pay for the boat trip.

Some weeks earlier, a team from the Red Cross had travelled to the island to treat patients, who were then supposed to sail over to the mainland for follow-up treatment. But the majority couldn't afford it. This is why I decided to rally a team together to provide the islanders with the healthcare that they needed.

On the day we were due to sail it was raining heavily and I was not at all confident about going to sea. Two nurses who had planned to come with us backed out. It was at this moment that I felt a surge of determination to go. Some of the Philippine volunteers reassured us, explaining that when it rains there are no big waves. So we set sail.

When we arrived on the island, we found about a hundred patients waiting for us, and we treated them all. When we left at the end of the day I had no doubt that “we had been right to reach out to the island's inhabitants.”

Adonis, Morocco