Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - As the call for aid in the Philippines grew in the days following Typhoon Haiyan, over 3,000 Registered Nurses applied through the RN Response Network to volunteer their time and resources to the island cities.
About 30 nurses have made the two–week trip through the program, treating thousands of impacted families.
RN Anna Rathbun, of St. Luke's Intensive Care Unit in Duluth, is one of those nurses.
Rathbun says disaster relief has always been a calling.
"But now that I've come home, I realize that they needed help long before the typhoon," said Rathbun hours after returning to Minnesota. "A lot of the things we were seeing were things that were happening even before the typhoon."
Rathbun, who focused much of her efforts around Roxas City, says the various health and safety issues the island's population has experienced since what they call Typhoon Yolanda hit their shores have only been exacerbated by poverty.
The average income around Roxas City is $100 a month, and the cost of medication is similar to the US.
"And if you don't have insurance, you have to pay out of pocket," added Rathbun. "A lot of people don't have insurance, just like in the United States, and their chronic conditions go untreated."
Still, Rathbun says she's blown away by the generosity shown by the families who've lost their homes, and in some cases, entire villages.
"Kids there started picking up shells on the beach because they saw that we liked shells. By the end of the day we had these four big bags full of shells," reminisced Rathbun, with a photo of the seashells in front of a group of smiling children. "I mean, they had nothing, but they still wanted to give."
Rathbun returned to Duluth on Monday, after leaving for the Philippines December 9th.
She says her goal now is to gather what supplies she can for the Roxas City Health Clinic.
"They're short on stethoscopes, gloves, really simple things," said Rathbun.
...hoping her efforts today will help alleviate a long list of physical, mental, and emotional problems the Philippines have been left with in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
If you'd like to donate to the RN Response Network: