Covid casualties

THIS week’s MIND, BODY, SPIRIT is by Fremantle’s SAMANTHA COATES, a nurse at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. For the past four years the compassionate soul has been helping neglected and underprivileged kids in Lombok, Indonesia, via the Peduli Anak Foundation. Unfortunately after covid hit, sponsorships and donations to the foundation fell by 95 per cent. They are in desperate need of funds.

 “I was at Wave Rock Festival when my friend started telling me about this place he had just come back from in Lombok, Indonesia. 

He told me about the devastating impact of the earthquakes that had completely destroyed most of the islands, leaving nothing but rubble, and how desperate they were for medical help. 

A week later I was standing at the gates of Peduli Anak Foundation. I stared at the gates wondering if I had gone insane. What was I going to do for more than 150 children, living in two giant military tents, on a pile of rubble that use to be their home?

Then I fell in love. 

When I first arrived at Peduli Anak, I had only just finished my graduate nursing program at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, in the emergency  department. I was scared that I didn’t have the strength or skills to help, but then I realised I was surrounded by incredibly talented and skilled friends that were more than willing to help. 

When I returned to Perth in 2018, I couldn’t shake the urge to get back. I constantly had images of the kids laughing, their smiling faces, playing in my mind. 

I approached several of my friends, who were keen to donate their time and expertise to help set up the Peduli Anak Medical Clinic. 

In August 2019, a group of nine nurses and one speech pathologist set off on our first group trip to Lombok. 

During our first trip as a team, we performed health assessments on all the children residing within the foundation. We trained the staff in basic first aid and CPR, and we hired a local nurse to work within the foundation clinic, to ensure continuity of care. 

Much of the aid we provide is primary care and prevention, to ensure their kids get the best start in life. We give them tools and resources to live happy lives and make healthy choices.

One of the first children I met at Peduli Anak in 2018 was an 11-year-old boy.

He comes from a family who are all uneducated and illiterate. 

He was brought to Peduli Anak by Lombok’s department of child protection in 2017, one year before I arrived. 

He was taken into DCP because he was found in possession of a large quantity of methamphetamine, which he had being coerced into trafficking. This child was not paid, but was instead given methamphetamine for his service. 

When he arrived at Peduli Anak he was smoking a cigarette and displaying behaviour you would expect from an 18-year-old, not an 11-year-old. 

Most of his teeth were rotten and he had three severely infected molars. 

When I met him, he could hardly eat or form proper sentences because of the pain. I spent weeks, in the middle of a natural disaster, trying to get him into a dentist. Finally, after three weeks, we got him into an orthodontist to have his infected teeth removed. 

On the way back from the dentist, he told me he wanted to be a pilot. 

Many Indonesian children have no access to basic healthcare and medicine due to poverty and illiteracy. 

At Peduli Anak, we have a clinic that provides free-of-charge medical care to our children and the children in the local community. 

We believe that every child in the world deserves a chance to live a happy and healthy life, free from poverty, exploitation and violence. 

Due to the impact of covid, we have been struggling financially to provide and meet the ongoing cost of care. 

We don’t know how we will continue running the foundation and continue providing care to these amazing kids. 

If you or anyone you know is in a position to help us ride out this storm, you can sponsor a child or donate directly to the foundation. 

All the information can be found on our website http://www.pedulianak.org

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