Tag Archives: Haiti medical relief

Nepal Journal: There was once nothing.

Special guest blog by Dr. Nikhil Joshi, currently on the ground in Nepal for Team Broken Earth.

I’m hyperventilating.

I need At least 10 translators. They need excellent English skills, and then have to be able to speak at least 3 of Nepal’s 40 or so dialects. They have to be available, affordable and willing to work the long hours our team will.

But that’s not all. I need space. I need clinic space, enough for at least 8 nurses and physicians. Separate rooms to allow people to be examined without loss of their dignity- which is something critically important to preserve as these people have gone through so much.

What about lab equipment? A laboratory tech? Clean disposal of needles? Supplies of dressings, antibiotics, anti-tuberculosis medications? The list goes on and on.

I sit down. I feel defeated. The day hasn’t even earnestly begun and I’m overwhelmed with the sheer complexity that comes when trying to start an endeavor of this magnitude.

But I remind myself that even Team Broken Earth had a beginning. Few people think about that now. We often focus on the excellent work multiple teams from across Canada have done. But before there were two story buildings and Haitian patients walking on rebuilt femurs, there was people like Dr. Furey sleeping on the floor in some random house as patients slept in nearby tents.

There was once nothing. And now Team Broken Earth has launched a multitude of teams and initiatives and are regarded as ‘local’ partners rather than sporadic visitors. The teaching our organization has done in treating patients with trauma was so popular and timely that it captured the gratitude of Haiti’s press and President. From a humble tent on the ground, there is now a stable two story building where people receive aid, are taught and can come for help. There is a foundation laid in the city that people can see. A place that says our commitment to the country is not transient, is not dependent on media coverage, but grounded in a shared vision and hope. Consistent work and focus over a long time will yield results.

Foundations. That is what I need to lay. I need to talk to people, as many people as I possibly can. I need to find who needs help and what help they need. I need to accept that I can’t help everyone but realize I can help someone. I just need to find other local partners whose core needs match our core competencies. I just need to find people who need help and those who can help us.

My mother taught me when I was young that if a problem seems too big to break it down and down into manageable pieces.

So today I’m going to try and find us some translators.

Wish me luck
-Nikhil Joshi

IMG_5406 IMG_5302

When the groove is good.

Each update made me more and more excited. Sometimes pictures are just not enough. We are building something. It feels like we’re taking something back from the earthquake’s devastation. Putting a foundation down. Literally, a foundation. A footprint that says Team Broken Earth and our amazing supporters like Columbus are here in Haiti to stay. This new building represents such a big part of our aspirations here.

I can’t help but draw similarities between the new building and our teams. Both started from an idea and have grown so far beyond what we expected or hoped.

Our team is now composed of over 500 people from across the country.  The building – a discussion with our good friend and tireless supporter, Brendan Paddick – is now up to the second floor.

The team is a cohesive working unit.  The building is now a design of working support structures all leaning on each other for support. The team will make an ever-lasting effect on patients… the building, on the face of Haiti.

The teams continue to grow as will the new infrastructure for this country. We can all be proud of that.

Of course it’s business as usual here. Well, Haiti’s version of usual, which means non-stop. The new ER doctor, Brook Saunders, has received his baptism by fire. The surgical team has not stopped with a full day of clinic in two hospitals.

It was good to watch as Dr. Rideout consulted with new patients. They all offered the smiles he’d soon make perfect. And that in turn made us all smile.

– Andrew

IMG_0139 IMG_0143 IMG_0186 FullSizeRender

If someone asks for help

I didn’t want to come here. Bangladesh. I had a lot on my plate between work and Haiti and finding time in between to be a husband and a dad. A friend of mine had approached me a while back to come and assess their charity and explore where they can improve and how Broken Earth could use its skills to help improve theirs.

I was being selfish.

I justified it to myself that I was trying to protect the resources we have for Haiti. But as quick as I said no, it struck me why we went to Haiti in the first place…

if someone asks for help and you are able, you should.

I thought about the opportunities that could exist with Broken Earth in a different country without changing our focus from Haiti.  It struck me that we could offer to support teaching and education while not diluting our efforts to the people of Haiti.

Frankly if I had stopped and thought about the work, the risks and the sacrifices prior to going to Haiti, I don’t know if I would have gone in the first place. But I did. I’m glad I did. I’m proud of how many of us have now chosen to go.

I have often dreamed what mountains lie beyond Haiti, what tasks and opportunities would present themselves next. I never dreamed it would be Bangladesh, but then again, I had never dreamed of Haiti either.

Please stay tuned as this journey begins. Like that first trip to Port-au-Prince in 2010, I have no doubt that it will be an eye-opener and I really want to share the experience with you.

Best,

Andrew

Five years of change

Five years ago today, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives and so many more were injured and irrevocably changed after the earthquake that levelled Port-au-Prince in Haiti. It only took a few minutes but families and communities were destroyed or damaged beyond repair.  I remember the aftermath so clearly and that odd feeling of being fortunate to not have been there when it happened. It’s hard to believe that was five years ago. I try not focus on what was lost. Instead, I choose to remember how I’ve witnessed the courage it has taken for Haitians to survive, to find hope again and rebuild.

Five years ago, the world mobilized and people from all walks of life, all across the world came to support the Haitian people.  We see this too often… immediate response that quickly loses its momentum. For some, Haiti has faded from hearts and minds.   But for others, the fight to make it a better place is still alive and well.

Most ask how Haiti has changed since 2010. Well, I have seen the streets reappear from the rubble. Buildings begin peeking up over the landscape again. And slowly but surely the infrastructure has been buzzing back to life.

The biggest change, the one with the most lasting effect, has been the changing relationships.  Working not in front of, or behind, but along side of the Haitian medical staff to improve techniques and create a focus on education. That has been a tremendous accomplishment.

There’s no question about it, Haiti changed everyone on our team in some way. For me, I am a better surgeon because of Haiti. I truly believe I am a better teacher, a better father and a better husband because of Haiti. I have taken more than I could ever possibly give to Haiti. And I am committed to trying to repay that debt.

And for all our supporters, those who have donated, attended fundraisers, sent encouraging messages to teams on the ground… the change we’ve made was only possible because of you.  I can’t thank you enough for that.

Haiti has changed.

Haiti is changing.

I hope that we can continue to be a part of it for as long as we are needed.

– Andrew

Long way from home

Seems strange to write a blog at a time when our nation has been shaken to its core. The terror and hysteria that must have evolved in Ottawa on Wednesday was felt by every Canadian around the world and Team Broken Earth in Haiti was no different.

Everyone was glued to the TV at the United Nations watching coverage on CNN.  Receiving texts and updates on Twitter, team members were somber and reflective.  All thoughts and prayers were directed to our nations capital.  We will all remember where we were as a team on October 22, 2014

The pace of the day was the only thing that kept us going.

The nurses in pediatrics visited an orphanage yesterday. One of the babies they checked on was a new arrival… he was found abandoned in a garbage pile the day before they arrived. The incredible people at the orphanage, devoting their lives to this cause, took the unclothed and malnourished baby in and began to provide immediate care. The nurses realized how sick the child was and today the baby arrived at our hospital for our team to help resuscitate and give him a starting chance at life.

Yesterday I witnessed poverty that I had never quite seen before and will never understand.  Travelling through the interior of Haiti, on what can only be described as donkey paths, I saw multiple children, of all ages, living in dirt huts with no clothing.  Naked children walking along the path.  Don’t get me wrong Port-au-Prince is poor, but being in place that’s even poorer, as in can’t even afford some clothing poor, is a level I have yet to experience.  It was tough to watch as we drove by in an air-conditioned truck.  Why them and not me? Take a minute to count your blessings. I did. I do that here often.

The good work continued on into the night for the OR team.  Trauma has been busy.  Busy is what keeps the focus away from the act of insanity at home. Thank God for the good people in the world.  I have to believe that although one madman can impact our world, so to can altruism, and altruism is more frequently found than madness.

Altruism can change the world.

– Andrew


Fatal error: Call to undefined function twentytwelve_content_nav() in /home/brokenea/public_html/wp-content/themes/brokenearth/tag.php on line 40