In February, 2005 Dr. David led a medical team into the area of the refugee camps in Sri Lanka where a catastrophic tsunami devastated areas of South Asia on December 26, 2004, just weeks earlier. The group which Dr. David was a part of, treated 11,000 patients in a 9 day period. Performing dozens of surgeries and treating countless illnesses, diseases and injuries, he felt it a great privilege to be able to be part of such a team.
After a 3 day journey, beginning in Boston and ending up in a base camp on the east side of the island, Dr. David was very proud of his resilient team which endured sweltering heat and humidity, the stench of decomposing bodies, land mines and the insurgence and occupation of Sri Lankan rebels in order to perform their humanitarian work. The trip, along with the several hours per day of van rides to the devastated villages over rocky terrain (in order to set up the portable medical clinics each day in different villages) was well worth the effort, as conditions for the team were suboptimal, without hot showers or toilets as we know them. Just being able to give as much of ourselves as we could, during that time was well worth any obstacles attempting to stand in the way of the team.
The team encountered malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, penetrating injuries, foreign bodies, intestinal worms and countless disease and illness brought on by contaminated water supply, food, hunger and lack of shelter. The mobile medical clinics set up by the team consisted of minimal facilities and supplies, surgery being performed, at best, with minimal instruments, and operating tables consisting of a door over 2 saw horses, at times, outdoors, at times, under only a canopy, and under minimal anesthesia.
The devastation of the area was accented by entire villages of sturdy brick homes having been completely leveled by the tsunami which traveled at a speed of 900 miles per hour, killing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children and leaving thousands homeless and without surviving family members. The stories told to by the survivors of clinging to the top of a mango tree, watching their children being swept away, were heart wrenching. In spite of all this, the Sri Lankan people maintained a positive attitude, a sweet spirit and managed to bear a smile, as they looked forward.
Dr. David urges anyone and everyone to give generously of themselves in order to help those less fortunate than ourselves, as a result of such a catastrophe.
May God bless all of the victims (and their loved ones) of such a tragedy of epic proportions.