Tag Archives: Haiti relief

Bangladesh, Day 3

Thanks to all who sent well wishes and thoughts on yesterday’s post. It really does mean a lot to me and re-energizes me in so many ways.

Today was better.

We visited Dhaka which has approximately 15 million people so it was a dense day, dense in every sense of the word.

We travelled throughout Dhaka to the older part of the city to visit a SAJIDA hospital. It was without a doubt one of the more interesting drives I have taken. There were more rickshaws and other forms of transportation than I could have dreamed existed.  On the way home, it took us 2-3 hours to travel a short distance through what I can only describe as an ocean of people, not waves, or groups, but constant people side by side, rickshaw by rickshaw for kilometres.

When we got to the hospital, we had several presentations and discussed with how Broken Earth and SAJIDA could collaborate.   They have the equipment and skills, but need more education and support. I think that is where we could help. They average 3-4 C-sections per day, but need more training in infant resuscitation, a course we could teach them. Then they can pass on that knowledge.

Following that we ran a busy clinic with the help of local doctors and nurses.  It was incredibly rewarding to work along side such remarkable people, to work with, and learn from them.

From the clinic into the operating room, where Dr. Rideout helped change the fate of child who may otherwise have gone through life with just three fingers.

We met one patient yesterday who was born with no legs and only two fingers on one hand.  He lives in rural Bangladesh, and despite his perceived disability, he is a successful farmer (farming the land himself), husband and father.   He was so thankful to see us, he demanded to visit with us tonight to sing us a song of appreciation.

In many ways this place is different than Haiti, but the human spirit, hope and determination to help those in need is a universal tenet, it just gets clouded sometimes.

Speaking of Haiti, I was extremely saddened to hear of the loss in Haiti yesterday. 18 people killed, celebrating Carnival, our thoughts and prayers are with our Haitian families and friends.

Best,

Andrew

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Things to do during the longest winter since the Ice Age.

Is it me or does this winter feel like it has been three winters long?

Suddenly the balmy heat of Port-au-Prince doesn’t seem so bad!

It’s been a crazy-busy year so far and yet it feels we’re just getting started. So much on the go. So much coming up. It’s exciting. It’s intimidating. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So far the New Year has meant new partnerships and new teams.

After Dr. Barter’s successful rural trip last year, there’s now a second team in  Haiti with Haiti Village Health. This is an amazing development as we start to grow our mission throughout the country. More reach means more people receive badly needed medical attention.

Speaking of teams, our roster continues to grow. We’ve got a Vancouver team ready to go in the spring and an Ottawa team planning a trip for later in the year. This is the momentum we all want. More people getting involved means we do so much more for the people of Haiti.

How does it all play out? Well, I love the way our March mission is working out. The Newfoundland team will start with a trip at the end of the month. We then hand things over to our Halifax team for their mission. The Halifax teams then gives the puck to a specialized Calgary team that’ll handle tendon transfers specifically. Then the team from Vancouver in May.  Four teams working a quasi relay race of medical attention. I love it.

The last few months have also meant a lot of speaking engagements and interviews to continue getting the word out on what Broken Earth is doing and wants to do in Haiti. The media has been so supportive of Broken Earth and we’ve had amazing write-ups in Halifax and Calgary, which are bringing nation-wide coverage of our endeavor. In fact, on our next mission to Haiti we will be bringing the CBC’s Anthony Germain. He’s been a great supporter of our work and I’m hoping this trip will give him a first-hand look as to why we are all driven to go back, again and again.

In Haiti, we are set to launch our first formal education course in May with approval of the location and partnerships with Haiti’s residency programs.  It will be an amazing event with orthopedic surgeons from across the country waving the Team Broken earth flag!

Well, it’s only March. Just a couple of weeks away from the next trip. It’s funny how time just races by when you need it most. Lots of planning to do. You’ve all probably seen the announcement for Rock Op 2014. Gonna be another amazing event and I want to see ALL of you there! The Once will take the stage and where else can you taste the talents of the best chefs in the city all under one roof?!

Speaking of fundraising, we’ve been getting a lot of support from some truly amazing people.  Dedicated nurses organizing everything from pubs nights to fitness events. Every bit counts!

In the meantime, the Ted X talk that Dr. Bridger and I gave is now online for all to view. To be honest, I haven’t been able to watch it yet… it’s just too strange to watch yourself!  That being said I am scheduled to speak for what seems like 100 times over the next few months as the Honorary chair of Volunteer week.  I am super excited about it and looking forward to spreading the Broken Earth story to all of the other exceptional volunteers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

You can check out the TEDx video here…

Take care and make sure to get your Rock Op tickets early! If the last two years are any example, it’ll sell out quick!

Best,

Andrew

 

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Day for my dad.

It seems odd and strange to say but I have become somewhat used to the chaos and direness here in Port-au-Prince.  I know what to expect when I come here. I know how bad the situation is and, not to be too cold, but rarely does it become personal or overly emotional anymore. I’ve become accustomed to it.

But yesterday was an exception.

Yesterday shook me.

I felt my father’s history in my journey.

It caught me off-guard.  Overwhelmed me.

At times, I broke down.

It was the morning visit to an orphanage. There are a lot of orphanages in Haiti. It’s known as “the land of a million orphans.”

This one was different in that the children are being cared for by a former orphan.  In fact, the only way the children could get in to the compound was if they had lost one or both of their parents.

They were being cared for in dorm rooms with the best that could be provided. It wasn’t much.

Made me embarrassed and tearful to think of anytime I ever complained about hotel rooms or ply counts on sheets.  More so, in each child’s eyes I could see dad’s. I could see my own kids. And it broke me.

The shining light here is the extraordinary people committing their lives to look after these special children.

The school we visited was like that too. Dedicated teachers working with children in an outdoor classroom.

Makes you think that, hope that there’s a child among them that will some day change this place.

From there I put on a political hat and met with the leader of the Haitian senate.  It felt like I was continuing my family’s history and journey but through different eyes, in a much different place. Here, there’s devastation. There’s unforgiving poverty. But I gotta believe there is always, always hope.

I find it back at the hospital.

The team was incredibly busy.  Greg Browne saved the life of a woman run over by a car.  She lost her leg but will live to be fitted with a prosthesis.

Nurses and ER docs treating multiple injuries from an orphanage that partially collapsed.  Thank god the injuries were not fatal.  Little victories.

Pediatric nurses continued what seems to be at times an acute care pediatric only hospital. So many sick kids.

Ask me why I keep coming back here and I think about those kids. I see all of the world’s potential in their eyes. I see dad’s journey. I see my journey. Most of all, I see hope.

Tomorrow can be better.

Tomorrow will be better.

– Andrew 

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Every stone’s throw created a ripple.

I’ve been lucky to meet some truly talented people. Outliers. Originals. The kind of people that inspire you by how they’ve made a difference simply by being themselves. Alan Doyle and Brendan Paddick spring to mind. And Andrew James O’Brien is one as well. Andrew is an award-winning musician with a big heart. He’s always been a huge supporter of Broken Earth and has joined us on our latest mission to Haiti to experience it first hand. That takes guts. But for an artist like Andrew, there is no other way.I asked Andrew to write a guest blog for us. Please, have a read.

– Andrew Furey

 

It’s 12:38am. I’m lying under a mosquito net listening to a child cry. Our bunk room is adjacent to the emergency room, which has been full of activity every day since we arrived here in Port au Prince. It’s tough to hear that sound and not want to get out of bed and help.  My personal qualifications are limited to say the least but the nurses that work the night shift are the best at what they do despite the heat, Mosquitos and the limited resources at their disposal. It’s a surreal thought to think that that child may not make it through the night but equally profound to know that he has a team of tireless and heroic people doing all they can to help him through to morning.

I have seen things here that have changed me in many ways. I’m still trying to make sense of everything down here. The poverty and day-to-day adversity that these people face is staggering. Mental, physical and spiritual duress is constant and seemingly unrelenting. Yet in the face of all this they are resilient, determined and stoic. Fathers stand over their children’s beds until nightfall then sleep uncovered in the open-air courtyard until morning when they return to the bedsides again. Unwavering love.

Patients don’t shout praise from the rooftops. They don’t thank surgeons on their hands and knees for the invaluable service they provide. Instead, they are quietly, deeply thankful. Their’s is a stoic appreciation. Their silence is intensely profound. They are tough and strong willed. They have to be.

I am grateful to the doctors and nurses. I, admittedly have taken for granted, living in Canada, how immensely crucial their services are and seeing them work here in Haiti with limited resources, less than ideal work spaces and literally thousands of patients who all deserve their attention, is absolutely incredible. They work with what they have and when they don’t have what they need they problem solve and push though.

This group consists of some of the most incredible and vital people in the world.

Inevitably, they’ll all return home to their regular jobs and, no doubt, their work will on some level be taken for granted by the ordinary public like myself. Perhaps that’s nobody’s fault. We live in a society where we come to expect their service without thinking or concerning ourselves with what that entails.

I know what it entails now. I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s branded on my brain.

I want to thank them. All of them. So does the man who’s femur was reinforced so he can walk for the first time in three months. So does the mother who’s infant’s heart can pump blood on its own again. So does the girl who had a cleft lip and was kept away from the rest of society. She smiles now.

Profound.

These doctors and nurses do this on their own time, for free, away from their families so that some of the millions of displaced Haitians can have a chance at life.

Dr. Greg Browne, General Surgeon said to me, “We can’t and won’t save everyone. Not even close. But maybe we’ll save the person who will have the answer to all these problems down here”.

Every stone’s throw created a ripple.

– Andrew O’Brien

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As Long as We Have We…

Sometimes you have to stop and look at the people you’ve surrounded yourself with and count yourself as lucky that you get to work in their presence. I believe nurses are amazing people. I’m lucky to work with some of the best here.  The team started today with a bang.  The OR was buzzing immediately, Orla and Tina have barley had time to recharge but they find the energy somewhere.  Rochelle and Michael in the peds unit started with Leigh Anne and Natalie resuscitating a baby. Always tough to see for a parent, for anyone really. Little fighter pulled through.

You can always count on Jackie Connelly to be in the ring. Jackie continues to be the glue for the team… coach, mentor, supporter, soldier… she’s working hard in the ICU and putting out fires all around us. Our nurses are all cut from that cloth. The emerge nurses are working together even when they are off. It’s a solid lesson in teamwork for all of us

Scott Wilson an adult ER doc thought he was running a pediatric unit with three very sick babies at one point! That changed very quickly with a three-person polytrauma car accident and an adult code all at one time.   Four acute sick patients in a three-bed unit. I’d like to say that’s abnormal, far from it.

Trying to keep up on our mandate of making education an important part of what we do here. Last night I met with the Dean of the local medical school and we are going to try and set up regular telemedicine lectures for his students and teachers. I like to think of it as investing in Haiti’s own team for Broken Earth.

Been long days here so far. Lots done. Lots more to do. I hear it’s been cold back home. Thinking about the kids. The support at home. The support at work. You got to surround yourself with a team. That’s how you do it. My kids love the Grinch. There’s a great line at the end… “as long as we have we.”

– Andrew

 

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