02.10.17 | News, Project of the Month

Hugs That Can Heal

In October, the project of the month comes from Indonesia
Nurse Hermias in the office of the hospital of the Toraja Mamasa Church.

Besides caring for patients, working in the office is also one of the many tasks of nurse Hermias. (Photo: EMS/Waltz)

Nurse Hermias has seen a lot of suffering in her life. But when she reached a remote village in the mountains of Mamasa, she could not believe what she saw. In a little hut at the outskirts of the village she found a lonely man with a hole in his back. He was in very poor conditions. "When I saw him I just had to hug him. People with transmitted diseases barely have any physical contact as no one wants to touch them." Many of Hermias' patients have been banned from the society that they used to be a part of. Their families do not take care of them, as the fear of infection is high. Even though a few simple precautions would be enough to minimalize the risk. "When we visit the sick we want them to feel as normal as possible. That is why we do not wear our masks. They feel more comfortable and not like a danger."

Loneliness is not the only problem for people who suffer from transmitted diseases like Tuberculosis or AIDS. They also lack sufficient nutrition. Often, they would only eat once a day - not enough for a body sapped by disease. Hermias helps the sick in every way possible. It pains her to see all the suffering and pain. "I am not a rich woman. I cannot give them any money or food. But, as a nurse, I can care for them and offer my assistance. That is why I chose this profession," says the 49-year-old.

Sick people in and around Mamasa city are taken care of in the hospital of the Toraja Mamasa Church. Offering medical care to the people in the remote villages in the high valley in West Sulawesi is more complicated. Where she cannot go by car or motorbike Hermias walks to reach her patients. "Some live in small huts where it is getting really cold at night. It is dirty and unhygienic," the nurse says. Still, Hermias is fully committed to her work and the care for people suffering from transmitted diseases. She offers medical treatment, counseling and sometimes a hug.

The project of the Toraja Mamasa Church includes medical treatment for tuberculosis and AIDS patients as well as educational work and reducing prejudices.

Elisa Heiligers/Corinna Waltz