The first mission of “Médecins du Monde” in Northern Evia was successfully completed in cooperation with the 5th Regional Health Authority of Thessaly & Sterea Ellada and with the support of bwin.
A general practitioner, a pediatrician, a social worker, two psychologists and three physiotherapists joined the mission and completed their task in Northern Evia after the devastating wildfires. Their first stop was the Health Center of Istiaia. Then, the local authorities guided the team throughout nearby villages. Besides the medical services provided on spot, the goal was also to assess the needs, so that the following actions would provide constant medical and psychological support to those affected by the wildfires.
The doctors who were there provided a strong image of the conditions they met. The importance of their task is shown by the stories of people, who lived a nightmare, and give only a glimpse of the size of the disaster.
“This was a tough mission, as we couldn’t reach the villages in the area. Trees were still burning in the ground and cables were exposed. We heard many stories. A 90-year-old patient, suffering from asthma, didn’t leave his village, after the signal to evacuate. He had a serious breathing difficulty. We supplied him with oxygen on the spot and he startded to feel better after a while, as his wife. Their children remained with them to save their house. They succeeded, as the fire past by it and the image was stunning. Everything around the house was burned. These people are very stressed and worry about the difficulties they will face when the first rain and winter comes. There are no trees anymore”, says Athina Greka, a gerontologist, who was in the front line of the mission, having great experience of such situations.
“Our mission is still active. Our first goal was to assess the needs of the people in the affected areas. I can say that I was surprised by the fact that many of them still are in danger and not prepared to think about the next day. Mostly, we encountered with old people, male, who were in shock. Each one of them was showing it with his way. I will never forget an old woman. Every time she went out of her house, we asked if she needed anything and she was just crying, saying she didn’t need anything. She couldn’t say anything else. She was probably alone, really close to the fire. You know, fear doesn’t just go away and the people there are getting even more desperate”, added Katerina Stukert, a pediatrician, who reached Northern Evia almost immediately after the wildfires.
“We reached the area at noon. The temperature must have been around 43 degrees Celsius. The atmosphere was suffocating. We can smell it even today. I met a 90-year-old woman, who impressed me. She had fought during her whole life and was really tough. After I examined her, we had a conversation. ‘I worked a lot in my life to be here, but what are we going to do now?’, she asked me. It was sad to see a 90-year-old woman in a burned house, worrying about what comes next. It’s not easy at all. Just a little further, we couldn’t pass a road, because there was a wire pulling pole lying on the ground. We could see at the time the one village after the other getting evacuated, while we were trying to move forward. At the same time, we had to think about our own safety. We examined people on the streets, on the squares. An old lady wouldn’t let us in her house because she was so scared. We just let some things on her door. No one knew what to do after this kind of devastation. These people are ruined. They will struggle to survive. We scouted the area, offered assistance and we’ll return with targeted actions. What people wanted the most was human contact and communication. They were really glad to hear that we will return to see some families”, concluded Athina Greka.
The mission in northern Evia was completed with the support of bwin.
Bwin’s initiatives, part of its corporate social responsibility program, are in alignment with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN, thus contributing to a better and more sustainable future for all until 2030. This initiative was part of Goal No. 3: Good Health and Well-being, Goal no. 4: Quality Education and Goal No. 17: Partnerships for the Goals.