Sharon remembers the tsunami’s forgotten victims


Sharon Pippin, RN, heads off to India to assist those whose lives have been destroyed by the tsunami.

An upside to the tsunami disaster that struck on Boxing Day was the generosity of Australians highlighted with an unpreceded outpouring of donations and rescue and relief efforts. But as the flood waters subsided, so did much of the aid.

But many people in these counties in South-East Asia were already extremely poor, and the damage reaped by the tsunami has increased their suffering manifold, according to Sharon Pippin, CNE at McArthur Private Hospital.

‘Many people still desperately need assistance so they can rebuild their lives. Their villages were destroyed, their livelihoods uprooted and the psychological trauma lives on – their already difficult lives are now much more miserable,’ she said.

That’s why Sharon has volunteered to go to Chennai, in India, at her own expense to provide assistance to communities in remote villages that were destroyed by the tsunami.

Through the Global Network of Volunteers, Sharon will be setting up a mobile health clinic that will visit remote villages in south-east India that were largely bypassed in the first wave of relief. ‘The people are suffering a level of poverty that’s hard to comprehend. They have had to treat their own injuries from the tsunami,’ she said.

‘I’m a little overwhelmed by what I’ve taken on. It’s going to be extremely confronting work but the knowledge that I’ll be helping people in real need encourages me. I felt I had to do something to help.

‘Part of my role will be providing counselling to those suffering post traumatic stress.

‘I’ll be there for seven weeks – I’m taking annual leave plus some unpaid leave.’

With accommodation and food required on top of the $1,500 airfare, Sharon estimates she will personally contributing more that $4,000 for the trip. ‘I’ve held raffles at work to try and raise money,’ she said.