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News : The 2nd Wave Team Experience

UniKL RCMP participated in the 2nd Wave of UniKL-CARE Humanitarian Mission for Flood Victims in Pahang from 14 to 15 December 2013 by deploying another team of volunteers comprising of 13 students (11 MBBS and 2 Physiotherapy Students) and 3 support staff. Associate Prof Dr Abdul Karim Russ was the team coordinator who linked-up the team with the Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah Kuantan.

1st Day (Saturday, 14th December 2013)
8.00am - Our volunteers assembled early at the District Health Office, Kuantan after arriving in a 12-seater van and a car. After a short wait, we were ushered into the Flood Information Room to hear the briefing by Dr Amirullah Arshad, the Kuantan Health Officer, who gave an up-to-date report on the flood situation in the district. He also briefed us on the SOP for flood relief assistance issued by the Ministry of Health. 
The flood situation in Kuantan at that time had improved tremendously; only 3 relief centers were operating, accommodating not more than 150 evacuees. Dr Amirullah was of the opinion that we travel to Pekan instead as there was a greater need for help over there. 
11.00am - Our team arrived at the Pekan District Health Office after an hour's journey from Kuantan. There was another briefing by the Health Officer on duty and our team was then assigned to follow one of the mobile medical units being dispatched to designated flood relief centers daily to open mobile clinics and provide health assistance.
12.30pm – Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Pahang Tua Pekan Relief Center
There were some 128 evacuees including children according to the relief center caretaker.  However, not as many were around at the time of our arrival as most of the men or heads of families and youth went back to their houses to keep an eye on their property and household items. Only the old folk, women and children were at the centre. 
Since the unit that we followed had its own doctor and health assistants, our volunteers were asked to play the following roles :-
1. Engage with the evacuees in short conversion 
2. Make the victims feel that we empathize with their hardship.
3. Provide  counseling for those in need 
4. Encourage unwell people to seek medical attention at the mini clinic 
5. Distribute living essentials and food items
6. Keep the relief center clean and hygienic
We also got to witness a notable NGO group, IKHLAS (Pertubuhan Ikatan Usahawan Kecil dan Sederhana Malaysia, led by its President Datuk Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah) dropping by at the relief center, coming in with a big convoy that included a lorry laden with foodstuff and clothing to be given away to the victims.

3.15pm – Dewan Orang Ramai Kampung Lamir Pekan Relief Center
Later, we drove to another site, Dewan Orang Ramai Kampung Lamir. The number of evacuees was slightly larger (>250pax) and the centre looked packed as it was much smaller.  However, there was no shortage of food as there was a steady  supply of nasi minyak, nasi beriyani and roti canai.  According to the caretaker, this was due to the fact that the place is situated near the Kuantan-Pekan Expressway, making it easier for generous donors to send in their supplies. Our aim was to meet the evacuees in person and help run the mobile clinic of the Health Office for those in need of medicine. Those who sought help were mostly older folk and new born babies. 
5.15pm - After handing out a few more essential items such as baby diapers and biscuits, we decided to close the clinic and travel back to Kuantan.
2nd Day (Sunday, 15th December 2013) 
8.30am – Kampung Sungai Isap, Kuantan.
After breakfast, the team re-grouped and decided to visit Kampung Sungai Isap, the worst hit place in Kuantan. It is situated on the bank of Sungai Kuantan which was the epicenter of the big flood. We visited several houses there and though the flood had subsided, we tried to comfort them on their hardship or agony from the aftermath and the huge losses suffered by most of the residents. It was sad to see damaged assets such as furniture, clothing and mattresses being dumped in front of most houses waiting for collection by garbage lorries. We also saw several stranded and stalled cars , waiting to be towed for repairs. 
We looked out for houses which were badly affected and stopped for several minutes to say hello and distribute necessities like baby diapers, detergents, washing hardware like sponges, toiletries such as soap, and dry food such as biscuits and candies. Most of the house owners thanked us for dropping-by. They were grateful to see youngsters being involved in such humanitarian activities.   
11.30pm – We returned to our base in MRSM Kuantan and had our last lunch with the volunteers from other UniKL campuses before embarking on our journey back to Ipoh.

We are glad to report that all the ‘volunteers' played active roles in our RCMP team. The program was a success in not only exposing the students to volunteerism but also as a learning experience on problems associated with relief work and Public Health issues. 

Reported by
Muhammad Anuar Bin Abdul Aziz,
Faculty of Medicine

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