Bartlesville doctor heading to Sumatra to help tsunami victims

Thursday, January 6th 2005, 5:06 pm
By: News On 6

A group of Oklahomans is joining the relief effort. Members of the Baptist General Convention Disaster Relief Team are traveling to one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami.

The News on 6’s Heather Lewin says the first of several planned volunteer teams is leaving this weekend, bringing much needed supplies and medical care to victims.

Bartlesville Doctor Tom Loafman told the News on 6, why he's ready to spend the next two weeks in a remote part of Sumatra. Dr. Tom Loafman's home for about 14 days will be a tent. Going into an area with little food or even clean water, his concern is not for himself, but the victims so desperately in need. "Well I guess it all goes back to my childhood, my parents were always helping other people, and it seems like that's our responsibility on earth to help others."

It's an example he sets for his own kids. Loafman says the toughest part of his trip will be seeing the faces of the children there, who lost their parents. "It'll be hard. It'll be hard to look at em. I think the hardest will be to leave the children that don't have anything."

Although she fears for his safety, when Debbie Loafman saw the devastation, she knew her husband would go. "Well, I wasn't surprised cause he's done mission trips before and I think he has an ability to help people. I guess that's why I married him." Except for a few personal items and a small supply of food, most of Loafman's luggage will be filled with medical supplies.

A veterinarian by trade, he can also apply those emergency skills to people. “If I just felt like I helped one person a day over there. Find somebody, just to let them sit down, clean their wounds, give em something to eat, give em a little hope for tomorrow, I think it'd be worth it."

The Baptist Convention plans to send relief teams about every two weeks, many supported by local donations. They're not revealing their exact location in Sumatra because of reported threats by Muslim extremists against some aid workers.

Dr Tom Loafman is eager to go and help make a difference.