Doctor Back From Sri Lanka - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/17/05-Tyler

Doctor Back From Sri Lanka

Another busy Monday for Dr. Andrew Bentley, but today was different.

A few new additions to his clinic -- a Sri Lankan bag and collectible elephant -- provided glimpses into his other clinics last week: a makeshift one in a Sri Lankan pastor's backyard and another outside a relief camp along the southeastern coast.

"It was very rewarding to see folks in that village who really had not seen a doctor, didn't have access to even some of the medical facilities in Batticaloa," the father of three said.

Dr. Bentley was pleasantly surprised not to see any widespread, life-threatening diseases. Out of 300 patients he treated, he saw only the common cold.

But the landscape of the country was a more grim reality. Postcards he brought back of modern cities and beautiful beaches are now outdated.

"Cement structures, cement houses, buildings, just literally leveled or broken in half," Bentley said.

As Bentley and his team tried to help the children orphaned by the tsunami, they discovered it was difficult to work with the government. So they weren't able to set up the foster care programs and orphanages they had set out to do. But they were able to dress wounds, and provide medicines and vitamins.

"As we left, the country was definitely transitioning from relief to recovery," he said.

So Bentley left, reassured to see other medical relief workers continuing where he left off and hopeful the government would not forget the orphans Bentley's team had originally gone to help.

Also heart-wrenching for Dr. Bentley were the stories of loss he heard while he was there. His translator had been working at ground zero for three days, after burying his own niece and sister-in-law.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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