Tag Archives: Team Broken Earth

Nepal Journal: Have you ever felt called?

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

It was April 25th. I had just gotten off the phone with my friends in Nepal. It was hours before the earthquake. I laughed to myself and went to sleep. In the morning I saw that I had missed another phone call several hours after we talked. I didn’t think much of it.

But then I saw the headlines the next morning. I urgently called back. Nothing. Every phone number I had, every email address, every social media account- nothing. Every second went by without an answer was agony. And then something just flicked on and I realized something.

We’re all called. We’re all called to live compassionate lives where we care about others. That’s what makes us strive in our own lives for a better world. And as a result, I was going to Nepal because I just had to.

The next lesson happened when I told Dr. Barter about my plans to go to Nepal and do some clinical work. He was supportive, but shared some perspective that he had gained in Haiti. “Trying to make a difference in Nepal seeing patients for a month is like trying to knock down a wall by kicking it with a pair of flip flops”. The ridiculousness of the imagery was jarring and accurate.

Teamwork does make sense. Individual efforts while laudable become infinitely more powerful when amplified by the energy of likeminded people. That’s how it felt to be in the cafeteria with Drs Furey and Pridham. It took 3 minutes for me to make up my mind to be part of Team Broken Earth’s efforts in Nepal.

The goal is simple, to find out what the situation is on the ground in Kathmandu and the surrounding countryside. To see what people need, who is offering it to them, and ask is there a way Team Broken Earth can be of service to Nepal and its people in the long term.

Team Broken Earth’s core strengths lies in the fact that it is an organization comprised of hundreds of compassionate members with unique skills and stories. And those people all share something in common: a calling. An indescribable feeling that tells us that hope isn’t dead, that altruism is noble and that caring about the world isn’t an exercise in futility but an action befitting humanity.

And so I’m on this flight heading in to Kathmandu. I have no idea what I’ll find when I land. I don’t know what’s happened to my home away from home, I have no clue what the air feels like or what is the humanitarian situation on the ground. I just know that whenever I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of these problems, I tell myself that I’m not alone because many others also feel called. And we’ll find a way through this together.

-Dr. Nikhil Joshi

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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

Mission’s End, Part 1: See the good.

Yesterday was a good day.

I remembered a very important lesson… see the good. I had a chance to read my last few blogs and realized I sounded a bit gloomy. I guess what didn’t come across was that I believe that, in the midst of the heartache Haiti brings, there are good things happening. See the good. It lifts you up.

The orphanage, although always a tearful visit, was incredible for the team to know how good work can be done despite the despair. These kids have nothing. But they smile. They play. They have good people looking after them. And I honestly believe that one of these kids will change this country.

Back at the hospital, Dr. Noftall replaced a hip that had been in traction for weeks and twelve hours later patient went home.

Mary Rideout has been a logistical superstar and has collected 40 people to attend our first trauma course in May.

Sonia Sampson pushed through difficult conditions for anesthesia and completed two cleft palates. Literally changing the faces of the future here.

There’s still lots to do. And we are all excited to have a Dalhousie team joining us from Halifax and digging in on the endless cases we have seen and can’t treat.

See the good. Because when you do what you really see is hope.

– Andrew

 

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It’s the surprises that you never see coming…

One thing you can count on in Haiti is that the place will change you. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, it manages to somehow surprise you again.

Yesterday was one of those days.   

In my job I don’t often see sick children in orthopedics.  It’s just not a routine part of my practice and when I saw an 8 year-old child (my daughter’s age) with a neglected leg wound that had exposed her entire shin, well, it just hit me so bloody hard. Sadly, she needed an amputation and will survive because of it, but cutting an 8 year-old’s leg off for a treatable infection is not a procedure I ever wanted to be part of and believe me, it hurt us both.

I know, I know. Gotta keep my spirits up. As the sun broke through the clouds, I got to watch my sister work in the surgery unit. That’s a very special experience for me.  Family matters so much to me, to us all. She is younger than me but so much stronger than she knows and better than I will ever be. So proud of her and so glad she’s here.

The team has been going all out. The nurses are really the true heroes.  They work without us but we can’t work with out them!  

The CBC coverage has been great and Anthony Germain has gelled well with the team. His coverage will go a long way to shed light on what needs to be done here. Haiti needs help, we need help.   We can’t do it alone so I always hope this will continue to be the momentum for change.

Keep thinking of that little girl’s leg. If this were home, it would not have come to this. I can’t write anymore today.

– Andrew

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Things are heating up… maybe not in NL, but they are in Haiti!

April Fool’s Day so I was skeptical to hear that St. John’s got hit with what was described as the BIGGEST snowstorm of the season! Didn’t believe it till I saw the pics online. Hope everyone’s safe!

After last night’s thunderstorms, it was good to see the sun this morning. Hot, hot day though. We have managed to accomplish so much in such a small amount of time already.  I knew the team was good, but didn’t appreciate exactly how it would grow and rise to the new heights.

Last night was another flurry of activity in the emergency room with two traumas at the same time, one adult and one child.  Rolling covered patients through the torrential rains to get tests was a new one for all of us.  Fortunately, a soaking wet team still got the work done with Dr, Barter in the lead!

This morning brought another ray of hope of change here in Haiti.  I had the opportunity to teach 15 orthopedic residents at a local university about fracture care.  After the lecture they came to watch Dr. Noftall treat two patients in the OR. This educational aspect is crucial to rebuilding the medical infrastructure in this country.

Andrea Hann and all of the pediatric nurses have been amazing, working through the long nights and hot days with a smile, which goes a long way here for patients and staff alike.

We made further progress last night in the hospital project supported by Brendan Paddick and Columbus Communications.  We met with a fantastic contractor and family who are interested in helping the cause.  It will make such a difference to all.

Wish I could be there to help with the shoveling, but former Team Broken Earth member John Hopkins came by my place to take care of it… thanks John!!

– Andrew

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