Thursday, July 15, 2010

Greetings from the Rumah Sakit Ship!

Communicating Effectively Takes Practice

“Halo! Apa kabar?” We are kabar baik, terima kasih. Yes, we are very fine, thank you, as we learn basic phrases in Indonesian on this hospital ship, the USNS Mercy. Classes are being taught by a cheerful group of 160 medical and nursing students who are our mission translators. Of course we’ll not be able to function without our translators as patients are assessed and treated, but our initial encounters with Indonesians leads us to believe they will be gracious about our efforts to master at least a few phrases of their language.

Not content to simply teach us basic language, the “Hope Worldwide” translators also presented an evening program of Indonesian culture. Using only materials they scavenged from their suitcases and could find on the ship (brown paper bags, markers, file stickers) they fashioned traditional island costumes and treated everyone to an evening of native music and dances. It was a welcome break from our routines…and as they say…”the crowd went wild.”

We civilian Project HOPE volunteers are also stumbling our way through “Navy.” We’ve had to, to survive. We muster every morning in our appointed departments, go to the mess at 0630, 1200, and 1700, and it’s taps at 2200 in berthing. Five minutes before lights out, an announcement is made shipside: “Tattoo, tattoo, taps in five minutes.” We’ve been asking around to find out what “tattoo” means, but even the Navy personnel we’ve asked don’t seem to know. They just shrug and say it means five minutes. Your investigative reporter will keep digging and report back.

We are also learning about tropical diseases, attending briefings within our clinical units and learning how to safely board the boats and helicopters that take us “in country.” We’re told by the Pacific Partnership advance team that the waters near our mission site are quite “lively” shall we say, so it is critical that we do exactly as the boat personnel tell us. We are told to take the crews’ extended tangan (hands/arms) as we board and exit the boats, or we may end up berenang (swimming.)

Terima kasih for your interest in Project HOPE…Selamat Tinggal!

Nama saya Kathryn Allen, HOPE Public Affairs Officer

1 comment:

  1. The Military Tattoo was originally a military drum performance, drummers from the garrison were sent into towns at 21:30 (9:30 PM) to inform soldiers it was time to return to barracks. In Old Dutch, 'doe den tap toe', or Turn off the tap (quit selling beer). The drummers played until 22:00 curfew. It is an alteration of the Dutch word TapToe.