Scenes From A Relief Mission

February 03, 2005|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

The seismic sea waves that pummeled Asia and Africa at the end of 2004 forever altered the course of life for hundreds of thousands of residents. But following closely behind the devastation was a more humane wave - of generosity and good will that sprang from all corners of the world to help, heal, repair and rebuild what the tsunami wrought.

Karen McClure, 51, a family nurse practitioner from Millersville who teaches at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, was a part of that second swell.

McClure, five physicians, two other nurses, a physician's assistant, a military paramedic and two counselors with expertise in post-traumatic stress disorder - all working for Mission to the World, the Presbyterian Church of America's relief organization - arrived at a Sri Lanka refugee camp Jan. 8.

There, they set up tents in the camp to treat 1,400 people left homeless after the Dec. 26 tsunami decimated Battacaloa, their fishing village on the east side of the island. For two weeks, the volunteers ministered to people with pneumonia, diarrhea, dysentery and other problems.

But even as the team mended the victims' physical ailments, they also tended to their heartache and anguish, by wrapping their arms around survivors and listening to their overwhelming stories of loss, McClure said.

Here, in her own words and in images she and other relief workers took during their mission, is a chronicle of their work in Sri Lanka.

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