Our Team. 2 Thai, 1 Canadian, 1 Norwegan, 3 American ( the cutest is taking the pic) We were a great team and got on really well together.
We arrived at the Phuket airport on the 1st of January, 2005. A team from Partners, Relief and development work. Some of us had been here before but for me it was the first time in Phuket. We had to waited at the airport for hours so we read every single ”missing” paper we saw. The airport was almost empty. Almost all the foreigners ahd been evacuated on the 30th of December. As we waited we talked about everything we had heard on the news. Somehow we had expected alot more chaos at the airport. 4 hours later we were picked up by Phil Anderson and some people he works with. We piled into a mini van and drove to Phang Nga. In the 1 hour drive we only saw gum tree plantations, palm trees and beautiful scenery. No beach, nothing that would even hint that there had been one of the most devastating natural disasters in history.
We arrived in Phang Nga. The 1st of January, all the shops were closed and it was really hard to
find a place to eat . But we ended up getting some food at a little stall. We talked to some locals and they
didn’t seem too aware of what had happend.
The next morning was Sunday so we attended church there.
Well, some of us did and others went to thegovernment building to find out what we could help.
We found out there was need for 2 things. One was to sort out clothes and the other was to go
to a temple at Khaw Lak, called Baan Muang. A make shift morgue. The guys and three of us women who are all nursed decided to go to the wat . The drive there was an adventure in itself. We were on the back of a Songthiew and the driver drove sooo badly. My friend got really car sick. It was hot, bumpy, dusty and we were all nervous about what we would see.
Waiting, waiting, waiting
We came to Khau Lak. I’d seen it on TV and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Out one side of the car we could barely see the sea, and to our right quite far in, everything was devastated. There was a traffic jam along that road. It took us forever to get to the Temple.
We arrived there, my friend pale and weak after the crazy drive. There were desks and about 5 walls covered with photos of dead people. We were told to get dressed. They gave us plastic coats, rubber boots, gardening gloves and a paper hat to keep our hair tucked in. After we were all dressed we were allowed to go into the ”inner” part where the dead bodies were. The smell was awful. And there were rows and rows of dead bodies. A doctor was in charge of volunteers and we got told to report to him, which we did. He was doing a rough identification of the bodies. Farangs, Asian. It took 4 people to lift a corpse. It was almost impossible to see the difference. There were children too. I had to fight the tears. There was a kid, body still intact, except for over his heart where a stick or something must have damaged his heart. He must had died really quickly.
The smells, the sight etc. were awful. I only went in for 2 days. There was an Italian man who had worked there for days. The Thai doctors worked all day. I was impressed how everyone offered to help.
On the 2nd day we went back and the organisational part was really lousy… so I spend alot of time talking to people who came looking for their loved ones. It was one thing coping with the dead, but talking to people who were looking for their loved ones was almost worse. What is worse than not knowing if they had survived?
Everyone hoped to find a loved one in a hospital, in coma or loss of memory but ok. I’m sure if anyone from my family had been there I would react the same way.
I wished that I could bring the ones who survived their loved ones,…. I couldn’t and it hurt.
Did I sleep at night? No. I cried alot. I was very moved. And had bad dreams for quite a while, and found it hard to talk about.
One of the hardest things was going home. There was so much work, so much to do. Apparently a lot of people didn’t know when to stop. I had to accept my limits. There was a family at home, waiting for me. God gave me my family and they were all still alive. I wanted to get back to them and have thanked God so often that we didn’t go on that planned trip to Phuket. I thank him that all our plans to go to a cheap little hut didn’t turn out. Otherwise it really could have been my children at that Wat…..