The white tents were set up quickly and supplies placed in each one. Chairs and tables were strategically arranged for patient consultations. Local students were hired as translators and security guards were placed at the front gate. By 11 a.m. Wednesday morning our clinic was up and running. Not one of us knew what to expect. Eight days after the earthquake, we wondered what the injuries would be like. Would people have fractures that hadn’t been splinted? Would most of the wounds be infected? What about the children -would they have pneumonia from sleeping outside with no shelter and little covering?
We found out a few hours later that the answer was yes, yes and yes. We saw 68 patients that first half day- many of them with such serious injuries that we had to transfer them to nearby hospitals. And each one quietly told his or her story of where they were when the earth trembled. One young mother was lying in bed with her newborn daughter. She quickly ran outside when the house began to shake and handed the baby to a neighbor. When she turned around, the house had turned to rubble, her other two children trapped inside, their bodies not recovered to this day. Despite speaking without a tear in her eye, the grief she carried was evident. A young man and his toddler daughter were walking on a street near their home when the earth shifted. They were only slightly injured, but his wife wasn’t as fortunate. She had been in their house and was crushed as it collapsed around her. His only words were, “I am so thankful I still have my daughter.”
In the midst of the grief, there are stories of miracles, like the young woman and her son who were pulled from the ruins of their house two days after the quake. I asked her how the rescuers found them and she said, “It was God who found us”.