Dr. Gale Lawrence

Photo Album

On Oct 25. 2010. a 7.2 earthquake shook the seafloor off the remote Mentawai Islands, the westernmost part of Indonesia, in the Indian Ocean. The resulting ten-foot waves washed across these low-lying islands, killing at least 400 people and leaving upwards of 30,000 homeless.

On Oct 26 Dr. Gale Lawrence received an urgent call from Lucas Wimer-- the emergency coordinator of ROWW (Reaching Out Worldwide), asking if she could accompany their relief group as their primary physician, leaving immediately. Thirty hours and three flights later Dr. Lawrence landed in Padang, Indonesia, where the group was stopped stormy seas that were too dangerous to cross. The next day they crossed 80 blustery miles of open ocean to reach the stricken islands, and for ten days they visited remote villages bringing life-saving medical care.

Dr. Lawrence has a long history of attending to those injured in natural disasters, starting in the Ukraine during the Chernobyl nuclear emergency in 1986. She has since treated countless victims of floods and earthquakes around the globe, including the tsunami in Shi Lanka in 2004, the Haitian earthquake of 2010, and the Chilean tsunami of 2010. In addition she has provided much-needed health care on trips to South Africa, Kenya, and Central America, as well as numerous relief trips back to the Ukraine.

On her very first day in the Mentawai Islands, in the village of Bulasat, Dr. Lawrence met a fellow doctor from Indonesia. Dr. Angel received a huge stash of medical supplies from some early responders to the crisis, and was happy to share these priceless, life-saving medicines.

On one island Dr. Lawrence asked for a 'private' operating room to be constructed by her fabulous crew of firemen/ETM helpers. She thought her patients would feel more comfortable with a little privacy from the prying eyes of curious onlookers. Here she operates on an infectious lesion caused when this man was hit by debris as he tried to flee the tsunami.

There were places where some people were too sick or injured to walk down to our makeshift medical clinic near the beach, so Dr. Lawrence decided to take the 'clinic' to them. Here at the town of Eruparaboat she slogged uphill through knee-deep mud to reach her patients. Two garbage bags served as make-shift boots to keep the mud at bay.

Still wearing her protective garbage-bags, and slogging through the endless mud, Dr. Lawrence passes by a house that was completely uprooted by the tsunami, and this was several hundred yards distance from the coastline.

Many if not most of the residents of the Mentawai Islands have little access to healthcare even in the best of times. Dr. Lawrence, and the volunteers of ROWW (Reach Out World Wide), were able to offer very scarce medical treatment to these kind and gentle islanders.

As in past relief missions, Dr. Lawrence asked her sister, Marci Camenson, to come along as her pharmacist. The two sisters have worked together in with wake of the tsunami in Chile in February 2010, as well as the Mentawai tsunami of October, 2010.

On the last day of the ten day mission, at the island of Siporoselatops, the villagers showed up at our boat with a dugout canoe, offering Dr. Lawrence and her sister a ride ashore.

In the village of Eruparaboat, Dr. Lawrence holds a young patient suffering from dehydration, fever, and diarrhea - very typical conditions when the infrastructure of an isolated village is destroyed by natural forces. Without prompt medical attention many babies could have died.

On the island of Botra, Dr. Lawrence makes a couple of friends while waiting for the Zodiac raft to take her and the other volunteers back to the support boat, onchored offshore.

After eight hours of treating patients at their makeshift clinic on the island of Bulasat, Dr. Lawrence poses with the volunteers of ROWW (Reach Out World Wide), and a small fraction of the people who showed up for medical attention.

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