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In the sultry waters outside Banda Aceh, Indonesia, a doctor and a nurse from Colorado Springs work long sweaty days helping people whose lives have become a living hell. On Dec. 26, a magnitude 9 earthquake struck, creating deadly tsunamis that razed coastlines across much of southern Asia.

Brian Crawford, a doctor for Front Range Emergency Specialists and Angela Waterbury, director of nursing at Colonial Columns Nursing Center, traveled there this month to lend help in the ongoing health crisis.

"It's quite amazing to see the sheer amount of force of nature that could destroy a complete amount of coastline," Crawford said. He marveled that the tsunami's brute force had washed fishing boats 5 kilometers inland.

But the most incredible thing, Crawford says, is the resiliency of Indonesians in the face of death. He watched locals digging graves. "They're working hard in 100-degree heat and 100-degree humidity and they're singing away."

Waterbury, who spends days caring for patients aboard the USNS Mercy, one of the U.S. Navy's hospital ships, reported similar catharsis when meeting Indonesians. "The children run out and they grab you and they smile," she said.

The pair is part of a 93-member medical volunteer team organized by Project HOPE, a humanitarian medical relief organization (www.projecthope.org), in conjunction with the Navy. They arrived in February and will remain through the end of March. When she returns to Colorado Springs, Waterbury said, she'll remind others and herself to "appreciate life -- it's taken away so easily."

-- Dan Wilcock

Photo courtesy of Project HOPE


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