West Kelowna  

Councillor on aid mission

West Kelowna Coun. Rosalind Neis is heading back to a strife-torn part of Asia on a humanitarian mission.

Neis, who spent five weeks in Nepal after earthquakes ravaged the country in 2015, will spend the next month in Bangladesh as part of an international Red Cross aid effort.

She'll be based out of the coastal city of Cox's Bazar, where the Red Cross has set up a camp for hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing violence in neighbouring Northern Myanmar.

"I'll be working as an operating room nurse in the two operating theatres the Red Cross has set up in tents," said Neis before leaving for Bangladesh.

Thousands, she said, are in need of medical attention.

Conditions will likely be similar to those she experienced in Nepal – battlefield surgery, in a manner of speaking. Similar to the MASH TV series, but without the surrounding war.

"In one of the briefing notes I got, there was a 10-year-old boy who was trampled by an elephant and has two broken legs. Very different from what we're used to, but some of the same kinds of ailments people get."

Neis says the effort will be a great learning experience, but adds there is one main reason she and others are willing to help.

"At the end of the day, we hope to make a difference for as many people as we can, and show them the world cares about them," said Neis. "Give them a bit of comfort, hope and security."

Aid workers get just one day off each week, meaning over her 30-day deployment, Neis will work 26 days.

There's a high burnout rate, she says. Deployments are generally just a month long because, she says, no one can keep up that kind of pace.

"I know it's 90 F with 90 per cent humidity, and I know it's a Muslim country, so I'll have to wear a lot of clothes," she said.

Neis is scheduled to return the middle of June.

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