Indonesian nurse brings experience from 2004 tsunami

In 2004, Indonesian nurse Suwarti helped care for survivors of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in 14 nations. The 32-year-old from Jakarta traveled to Banda Aceh on the island of Sumatra and helped to prevent the spread of infectious diseases as well as providing care to patients with broken bones.

When Suwarti saw the televised images of the Great East Japan Earthquake last month, it reminded her of the disaster that struck her native land–and she knew she had to help.

She had been studying and working at the Japanese Red Cross Society Himeji Hospital, and she asked the head of nursing if she could be sent to the disaster-stricken areas in the Tohoku region.

On April 24, Suwarti was included in a group sent by the Himeji hospital to an evacuation center at the prefectural Yamada senior high school in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture. Suwarti was part of the first group of nurses from Indonesia who came to Japan three years ago under an economic partnership agreement.

Although Suwarti recently passed the Japanese state nursing exam, she has not yet received her formal nursing license, so she will play a supplementary role by listening and comforting patients. Suwarti brought with her a large sheet of paper with messages of encouragement from other Indonesian nursing students studying in Japan.

“I want to tell the people in Iwate that they are not alone,” she says, “and that I want to work together with them.”


Post by Deba Lauda

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