Dealing with the traumatic aftermath of the
January 20, 2005
A letter sent to me from a volunteer
doctor from Bam. It shows some other aspects of this disaster.
-- Reza Saberi
My Dear Friends,
The disaster in Bam continues to claim victims.
A year after the eqrthquake, mental damage, depression,
post traumatic stress disorder, anxieties and feelings of insecurity
Many children and orphans still show psychological problems.
Many girls and boys are afflicted by dissociative disorder; they
see no choice but distance themselves from the
unbearable realities (much much heavier than the unbearable lightness
So they cut their connections to their past world.
I saw many children who had closed their eyes, didn't eat, drink
or speak. They deny what has happened; accepting the truth would
tear their brain apart.
While children, fathers, mothers and elders have died, no happiness,
protection, care and kindness and wisdom remain in the city. But
you can find a lot of brutality and violence here specially when
going deep into the society.
Child protection, family reunification and mental health and
support are the new
in disaster management
in Iran. During vists to schools and meetings with parents and
teachers, I realized how worried they
the mental health of the children. They told a lot sad stories
about what changes had taken place in the children after the
Horror and deprivation cannot be forgotten. On that
terrible day loved ones perished under ruble, while the surviving
few waited helpless until morning in the freezing
the desert. Dealing with the aftermath of the disaster has also
Teachers, specially the women, are like angles in
black veil, with sad eyes, kind hearts and bright minds,
who themselves have lost children or husbands. They have brilliant
ideas about how to treat the behavior problems of
their students. Their ideas are much better than many psychiatrists
who have been brought from abroad to Bam.
In the very far villages of the District of Bam we can still
find health workers who are deeply and passionately committed to
They feel as if they are saving their own children. They understand
what loss means as they have lost their beloved too.
At the farthest region of the District of Bam, about
90-150 km away from the city of Bam, there is a region called Rigan
(plural of rig, which means dust).It is famous
terrible sand storms. A population of about 65,000 live there
without a hospital. There's only one health centre with a
young doctor. The ambulance
is out of order. In the village clinics the vaccination
programme is working.
a lady working in a clinic. She had carried out vaccinations
in her own village as well as those near by. She kept the
vaccines cold, registered the temperature
of the refrigerator twice a day. She and her daughter have continued
working to stop polio, measles, rubella, tetanus and
diphtheria. Three of the 10 villages near
Rigan are in excellent shape, with the efforts of Mrs.
Moradi, Mrs. Fazlabadi and Mr. Razmjoo. They are motivated
and happy despite the difficult conditions.
If we have much less
disease even in the deprived and remote areas, it is because