Dr. Joanne Joloy, Director of International Expansion at CADENA, discusses the latest mission to act after the earthquakes––and tsunami—in Indonesia, on September 28 and 29. An estimated 1.5 million people have been affected by these events, there are almost 42,000 displaced people and an estimated 1,200 people deceased.

We left on October 3rd from Mexico City to Los Angeles, and from there to Taiwan. From there, we took a flight to Jakarta but, barely after 40 minutes, someone on the plane screamed. The flight assistants were requesting a doctor on the plane, but no one was responding. As I approached to see what had happened, I realized it was a patient who was in his last breaths.

Unable to communicate, I couldn’t understand what had happened. The patient went into cardiorespiratory arrest. We started resuscitation maneuvers inside the plane, while the pilot returned to the nearest airport. This event took more than 45 minutes and the patient, unfortunately, died.

The event delayed us almost six hours, but once in Jakarta, we bought tickets to Gorontalo, and from there we were part of a caravan to reach ground zero. The journey lasted 28 hours, 12 of which I spent in the trunk of a van, along with volunteer Gabriela Achar.

On the way you could see very nice beaches, I couldn’t believe we were heading for a disaster zone.

Entering Palu was entering the end of the World. Absolutely everything was destroyed. There was a smell of death that I had never noticed before in my humanitarian trajectory; I had to cover my mouth and nose with a cloth.

We were at ground zero during the day and returned before dark, as a nearby volcano had erupted. On our way back, we stopped at a community that was above the water, to play with affected children.

This mission was particularly difficult because of the language barrier. From the plane to ground zero, it was very difficult to communicate with the locals, as they did not speak Spanish, English or French.

In total CADENA delivered 200 Sawyer water filters, which will impact the lives of more than 16,000 people affected, who do not have access to safe drinking water.