The Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore


Batam: Beyond A Mission. Posted on 17th Nov 2009, 8:30pm by Alvin

I had the privilege of travelling with the St Andrew’s Cathedral group to Batam on their 2-monthly Batam medical mission trip earlier this month.Our group of 50 odd volunteers was made up of medical doctors, nurses, medical students, and lay people – and what the lay people lacked in Medical knowledge, certainly was more than made up by their hearts.. =)

Departing from Harbourfront Cruise centre on a bright cheery Saturday morning, we reached Batam and picked up our supplies of medicines, health education materials, consultation cards, and other goodies for the kids, from the local Bible school. We split into 3 teams bound for 3 different villages, and set off amidst the very hot weather..

Slotted into Team A with Dr Thambiah, I felt quite out of place since it was my first time on the trip. The other volunteers quickly got down to work once we reached the village – arranging the tables and chairs into a waiting area with consultation tables, registration areas, and even a pharmacy area.

And so without much fanfare, we started!

The villagers trickled in from all parts of the village – I originally thought it looked really small, and we’d be done in an hour or two, but boy was I wrong – the crowd started swelling, and soon, I realized the impact of the mini-polyclinic crowd that we had inherited!!!!

The patients started by registering at the counter, then they had their BP taken before the consultation. There were 3 of us – Dr Thambiah, me, and an Indonesian doctor who was there only for the morning.

View of the Medical tent

View of the Medical consult tent.

Subsequently, they went off to the Pharmacy where they got their medicines before getting a healthy dose of health education at the station next door.

All this cramped into a tent of an area just slightly bigger than your average classroom.

So there we were – 3 doctors sitting at 1 long table: me and the Indonesian doctor at 2 ends, and Dr Thambiah sitting in between us.. space constraints! =P Felt very lost during my first few patients, and am thankful to Dr Thambiah for guiding me for the first few patients. Subsequently, things got a lot smoother!

Dr Thambiah speaking to a patient..

Dr Thambiah speaking to a patient.

My main issue, has gotta be communication. Goodness gracious – I spoke nary a word of Bahasa Indonesia. Whatever Malay I had was simply paltry – fever? pain? cough? vomit? DM? hypertension? dizzy? How long? That pretty much covers it? Luckily I had a nice interpreter to help me..

So there I was, running my own “GP” practice in the middle of a Batam village, armed with a list of medications and my lovely interpreter. Fever, URTI, myalgia, arthalgia, cellulitis, ? TB, tooth decay, headache, pregnancy checkup, dizziness.. Think I could have fainted at the rate that the patients were coming. Lunch break took a hold as we took turns to go for lunch so that we could handle the crowds.. Even the pharmacy was so packed, we resorted to handing out the vitamins at our consultation table..

Crowded pharmacy!!

Crowded pharmacy!!

And the very cute kids..

And the very cute kids

Amazingly, we actually manage to wrap up by around 3pm after 5 straight hours of seeing patients.. Phew!

**********

Although it was only a short one day trip for me – the others stayed overnight for church service on Sunday, where they would hold a 2hr clinic on Sunday after service for the church-goers – it was quite an experience.

Amidst the busy packing up, I looked around at the kids playing around the tentage, busily colouring away with their new colour pencils and drawing pads, and a smile spread across my face. They were so innocent and carefree – although they live in poverty, they are happy with their lot.

To see the people and children living in the village, with almost no access to affordable health care / electricity.. it was heart rending at times, yet you admire the spirit of resilience within them that helps see them through pain and suffering.

Some things are always hard to put into words. The villagers.. the kids.. the selflessness and fellowship of the volunteers both medical professionals and lay people alike.. It has been a fruitful trip! =)<–>

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Dr’s Blog is a feature of the CMG web site that aims to encourage interaction between Guild members. We hope to foster a spirit of community through the sharing of thoughts and personal experirences. The opinions expressed in these blogs are entirely those of the contributors and not of the Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore.

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Past Blog Articles

2014 Dec: A Prayer for Deliverance 2
2014 Oct: Who are you, Where am I?
2014 Sep: A Prayer for Deliverance
2014 May: Behind Those Clothes
2014 Feb: The Red Packet(s)
2014 Jan: God Loves You

2013 Dec: Caroling Reflections of an Expired M
2013 Nov: Scripture Reflection for Physicians
2013 Oct: Hang on. We haven’t beat this thing yet.
2013 Sep: Me and My Ride
2013 Aug: A Gift of Life
2013 Jul: Finding Happiness in a Land of Plenty
2013 Jun: A Beeline
2013 May: Living My Love Of..
2013 Apr: The Healthcare Debate
2013 Mar: A Doctor’s Prayer
2013 Feb: Project Battambang ’12
2013 Feb: Mission Srolanth ’12: To Heal the Heart, with a Heart to Heal
2013 Jan: The Hardest Thing To Say…

2012 Dec: The Lost Art Of…
2012 Nov: Rome Sweet Home – Short Reflections
2012 Sep: He Keeps Falling
2012 Aug: God Decides
2012 July: Am I To Blame?
2012 June: Saving Fragile Lives
2012 May: Ruminations On Love
2012 Mar: The iPhone

2011 Dec: The Red Cross
2011 Nov: Give Thanks!
2011 Aug: Ashes – The Epilogue
2011 July: Charity
2011 July: Ashes
2011 May: Of Angry Birds & Cowardly Mice
2011 May: Notes From Salzburg On Good Friday
2011 Apr: What It Means
2011 Mar: A Job.
2011 Mar: Dear Father…
2011 Feb: Clothes, A Person Doth Maketh
2011 Jan: Wonderfully Made

2010 Dec: A White Christmas
2010 Dec: A Medical Christmas Carol
2010 Nov: Saying Goodbye
2010 Oct: I Am Always With You
2010 Sept: Be Joyful Always
2010 July: Managing Expectations
2010 June: But They Are Our Masters…
2010 June: Driving: A Means of Personal Formation?
2010 May: HO Welcome Tea
2010 May: The Rain
2010 May: A Missed Lunch
2010 May: Man In The Mirror
2010 May: Reflections At The End Of The Day
2010 Apr: Finding God In All Things
2010 Mar: Surely You Put Your Trust In The Lord?
2010 Mar: The Significance of a Name

2009 Nov: Batam: Beyond A Mission
2009 Oct: The Broken Rosary
2009 Sept: Love Note To God, Father
2009 Aug: Let God Take The Wheel
2009 Aug: The Prequel: The One About Graduation
2009 July: The Sequel: The Later Months
2009 June: First Month of HO-Ship
2009 May: “The House of God” by Samuel Shem
2009 May: In The Discipleship for Christ


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