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Senior responds to needs of Nepal after earthquake

Jonathan+Brewer
Photo by Allison Bradshaw
Jonathan Brewer

Jonathan Brewer has been eagerly counting down the days to graduation. But near the end of his countdown,  a massive earthquake struck Nepal on April 25. Now, Brewer is counting down to a different date.
Along with a team of similarly impassioned medical professionals through an organization known as International Medical Relief, the biomedical sciences senior will head to Nepal at the end of May to offer his help to the relief efforts.
On April 25, Nepal was hit by a earthquake, and according to a tweet on Sunday from Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Center, 7,250 people have died and 14,267 people are injured. 
Brewer, who has been to Haiti three times to help, the first trip coming a year after the earthquake from which the island country is still recovering, said he was sitting in class reading about the earthquake when he felt a calling to go be a part of the relief.
“I’m pretty strong in my faith, and so to be honest I just felt called to go,” Brewer said. “I just felt that I needed to be able to do something. I understand there’s a lot of people that really want to do something, that want to go, they just may not have the opportunity, they may have families or commitments here in the United States, and so with me being a graduating senior in college I thought this may be a good time to go.” 
Brewer will be attending the Texas A&M College of Medicine in the fall and has worked as an EMT in addition to his medical work in Haiti. Brewer said his team will be focusing on disease prevention and treatment.
“The biggest thing that’s going to start occurring in the next couple of weeks is widespread epidemics,” Brewer said. “We’re going to have a cholera outbreak, a lot of tropical diseases coming in. I don’t really know the incidence right now of typhus and yellow fever down there, but we’re expecting a lot of viral and bacterial-borne infections, and so that’s really what my team’s going to be concentrating on.”
Brewer said one of the biggest diseases that is affecting Nepalese citizens right now is cholera.
“There’s a big incidence of cholera right now going on over there, we’ve already had over 1,200 cases going into the hospital,” Brewer said. “It’s a big waterborne illness and so that’s really what I’m hoping to focus on is just kind of prevention of those diseases.”
While this is not Brewer’s first medical mission, this will be the earliest he’s responded to a disaster situation, arriving only one month after the earthquake on May 27. Because of this, Brewer said he is feeling some degree of nervousness.
“I was in Haiti a year post-earthquake there, but going to Nepal one month post-earthquake … We have team members on the ground and they’re sending us updates and it’s going to be a whole different world,” Brewer said. “There’s a lot of chaos down there — not really a whole lot of structure, organization, the government can’t really bring in a lot of materials right now, they can’t even land large jets at the airport — and so it’s going to be hectic.”
But more than nerves, Brewer is anxious to be able to help.
“I’m a little bit nervous for that, but in the same sense, I love this,” Brewer said. “I love doing this kind of work, this is my passion, this is what I want to do as my career and so I just absolutely love this style of work and I feel comfortable being on a team.”
To many, the numbers of injured and dead may seem daunting and insurmountable. But Brewer said he is confident his help will be able to make a difference, even if it’s on a minor scale.
“One thing I’ve learned is that if you can make a difference in one person’s life, to me, that’s worth it,” Brewer said. “That’s made the entire trip worth it. I mean, seeing, we’ve had patients in Haiti that have come with diseases and things like that, and being able to see them be able to go back to their families … at the end of the day you know that you were able to make a difference in that one person’s life, that makes all the work, all the sacrifice, all the sweating, all the cold — it makes it all worth it.”
Brewer urges anyone who can donate to do so, and suggests donating to established relief organizations, including the organization with which he is going to Nepal, International Medical Relief. People who are interested can donate at internationalmedicalrelief.org.

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