Fundraising Progress:
Raised: $3208.15 Goal : $3000

Thursday, 28 November 2013

I cried in church on Sunday.

I sometimes avoid going to church when I think I'm going to be emotional.  I know it's supposed to be supportive and your church should be your family, but I just have a hard time with that.  I'm worried that if peopel *really* knew what was going on, well, then I'd be labelled as "One of those people".  Anyway, I went to church anyway, because I figured it was the week before I was going away and I was being very heartily supported by the people at church so I should put on a good face and go.

I didn't really expect to have tears running down my face out of gratitude and just feeling overwhelmingly embraced by a group that I feel like I know about 10% of.  This is why...

These are all cards from people who are going to pray for me while I'm gone.  People who I barely know and people who I know pretty well, people who have only been in my life for 2 years or less, who are going to take time out of there day, every day, for the next 12 days, to support me in the best way they can.

I don't know why this gets me so hard.  I have never known about a group of people who are just praying for me so that I stay safe, stay strong, stay courageous, and follow the path laid out for me while I'm abroad.  I just feel like I'm walking around in a perpetual group hug.  It's ridiculous. Those cards say Thank You to me, like I'm doing some one a favour.  I think it's just crazy, because all I can say is Thank You to those who sent me the cards, supported my financially or with supplies, and all the other people who have wished me well.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Almost there.... Almost there!

Almost there... Almost there!!

Today was such a long day at work.  I was so anxious to get to packing and checking and double checking I have everything, I just want to get done work and get this party started!

I want to give a huge thanks and shout out to my last minute (really... like 2 weeks ago, but I am slow). I made $3000 my goal on a whim mostly.  I thought it was a bit out of range, but I figured I would strive for it.  Well, I hit it, and beyond!!! All thanks to generous friends and family, and friends and family of the friends and family.  I have been totally blown away by the support.

That extra fund raising was able to help cover the costs of another team mate, and purchase more meds and physio equipment to take on the trip.  It will help the folks we go down to see, so we can do that much more!

So I am working on getting all my stuff together.  I have a problem.  We are going for 12 days total.  1 day will be completely taken with travel, and 5 are completely filled with medical clinics.  The last day we are leaving early, so 4 days will be sight- seeing.  Anyway, I have to fit my personal supplies (BP cuff, stethascope, gloves, alcohol swabs, hand sanatizer, flashlight, batteries, pens, clip board....) as well as my mosquito net, mosquito repelent, personal first aid kit, shoes, sandels, scrubs, and maybe some other clothes.... into 16 lbs total weight and a 1/3 of a hockey bag in volume, my carry on, and a 'personal item' (ie. laptop bag or purse).

This is what I've got gathered up so far:

The jar is instant coffee, and yes, there is a frisbee.  I thought it would be fun to take and leave with a child down there to make their day.  We will see if it makes the cut!  I might swim in my cloths to save taking a bathing suit... there is just too much stuff and not enough space.

I'll post another picture when it's all packed.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Euchre Success!

Last night was the Euchre tournament and it was a smashing success!  I was astounded by people's generosity all around.  Sarah, another nurse going on the trip, and Matt's friend Bev and her niece Kim, who did the baking for the sale just floored us with the calibre and quantity of totally amazing treats that went beyond mere baking.  We're talking ART!  Brownie coffins with chocolate skeletons, minion marshmallow pops, turkey oreos, cream cheese brownies, cream cheese filled banana bread, mustard pickles, home made salsa, pumpkin pie! The mouth-watering list goes on and on!

This was the FIRST car-load of stuff!!

We started with a very set list of prices, but that soon went out the window as the hoards descended and it was a whole lot of eye balling and setting a price that looked fair.  No one complained.

The cupcakes were added with the second car-load of goodies.  The first few customers trickling in!

The euchre started a bit late because people were so enthusiastic about the baked sale, but that was okay! Everybody had a great time anyway.  The prizes were enthusiastically won and everybody had a good time, so it was such a success!

The cards are being played!

And for those who don't play euchre: Scrabble!

Linda, myself, and Donna, 3 members of the team to Guyana!
The final total made was just shy of $1500, which was the best I was hoping for, so I am so pleased!  I am only a couple hundred from my goal of raising 3 grand, which I set thinking it was a very ambitious goal.  Awesome!!

Thanks everybody who came and who helped, for supporting the CNS team to Guyana!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Together, we make the world better!

Today I was at church and found out there are 3 other members of my church going on a medical mission to Peru with an organization called Medical Missions International. This weekend my Patricia did a 5k Run for the Cure. A friend of mine, Isaac, is doing a 5k run to end depression. I am going to Guyana. We are all supported by all kinds of people who give their hard earned money. I know so many people who have given their time, money, effort, and other means, and it is all working toward making the world a better place.

Every day there are news stories about crimes and evil deeds, it is important to take time to focus that for every old lady that gets mugged, there is another old lady receiving treatment for an illness because someone gave time, money, or effort to provide it.  For every kid that gets bullied, there is a kid that is supported by a program run by volunteers or funded by donations.  

My personal belief system is that people are made in the imagine of God.  I think that people have a drive to do good for themselves and for other because that's a reflection of God's desire.  There will always be pain and suffering in the world, but there will also always be people willing to sacrifice to make it better.  I'm very excited to be a reflection of God's will to the people of Guyana!

Food for the Poor Guyana distributing in Herstelling, Guyana.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Fun with Glue and Coloured Paper!

All through school I thought making poster boards for projects was silly, though I always found it fun.  Now, I am making a poster that actually has baring on real life: a poster to raise awareness for my trip at my church!  I plan to have it up for a couple Sundays, and I'm going to be selling for a donation some of the baked goods that we will be offering at the Euchre Tournament at the church.  You like the tasty cake? Eh? Eh? Come get more on Oct. 26th!  Don't play Euchre? No problem! Come and eat cake instead!

I also put an ad in the local paper about the Euchre Tournament.  I felt very professional putting an ad in the paper.  I have not sold a lot of tickets yet, but I have a lot of people who plan to buy tickets, or plan to come to buy cake and pie, so I am confident it will be a success.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

How did I get here and where am I going?

When I was in grade 11, I took a human geography course.  Our big project was to make a business plan for a charity that included budget, staffing plans, long term goals, ect.  It was a big project, but it was very cool.

My charity was an HIV/AIDS support "community".  It started as an orphanage but my research led me to learn about adults, particularly women with children, who were left very vulnerable when they contracted the virus, or when their husbands did.  So, my naive 15 year old self designed an HIV/AIDS support commune!  I was looking up real estate in Lesotho (that's where chose to operate because it has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world).
The Flag of Lesotho, new in Oct 2006

 I was finding out how much you had to pay doctors, I was "buying" buses, and budgeting for schooling,  and researching gardens in Africa to help keep cost of food down.

I can't remember the exact figures, but the start up cost for my commune was $1.5 million Canadian dollars or something like, and a cost of $400 000 to keep it running from year to year.  Peanuts, right?? Toootally doable!!  Of course my thought was with support, the people in the commune would be able to contribute to keeping it running, which would bring the cost down over time.  It was a good idea! My plan would result in a few families having access to food, shelter, education and medical attention to help alleviate the suffering from HIV/AIDS.  A long term positive impact on a little piece of society in Lesotho.  Lesotho is a tiny little country in Africa, by the way.  You know that little hole in the middle of South Africa that doesn't belong to South Africa?  Yep, that's Lesotho.
I got a wicked-good mark on my project, but now looking back I can see all the huge issues and problems with such a plan.

Fast forward to 4th year of my BScN where I met one of my heros.  I can't even remember her name, but I remember she was amazing.  She was my prof and introduced the concept of Participatory Action Research (PAR).  Now,  I hate research.  It's dry, its boring, its monotonous.  This prof told a different story, however. She talked about going to small villages in Uganda or Cambodia or a dozen other places, of learning the rhythm of life in the village, and learning from THEM what THEY needed.   She talked about using local wisdom and local resources with the help of funding from whatever university or charity was funding her to work in that village to build up the village from the inside out.  She told me about setting up clinics that both offered medical training AND teaching.  In one case they even started an entire economy based on the barter system to pay for the health care provided because no one had any money.  I am still baffled how all of that was considered research, but it sounded awesome.  It sounded real, and lasting, and beyond all it sounded GOOD.  If I could be a part of that, then I could be a part of something real.

I have had that goal/dream dangling around in my brain since that class, but I haven't been able to figure out how to get started.  Research = higher education.  I can't afford to go back to school quite yet.  I need connections, I need experience, I need direction.  If I had been a smarter person, I would have asked her for her business card, contacted her and asked her to be my formal mentor.  If she declined, I would then ask her out for coffee or lunch and pick her brain on how she got to where she got and how I could do it too.  If she accepted, well, then I would do the same thing, just over the months and years that followed.  I didn't do that though, so I have to figure it out myself.

Fast forward again, after graduation, after my first job didn't work out and my interview for then Care Partners, now Red Cross Care Partners.  "Every year we do a medical trip" they said, "we take staff from the organization and go abroad to run clinics" they said.  Hey... doesn't that sound like a great place to start?

Does to me!  

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Why Guyana?

Community Nursing Services has done four prior trips abroad for medical missions.  They have gone to Peru, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Guatemala.  All of these trips were a great success with the team helping hundreds of people with basic medical needs and teaching, but they were all made more challenging by the need for interpreters.

Guyana was originally settled by the Dutch, and then was taken over by the British. Fun fact, just like the Netherlands much of the most heavily cultivated and populated coastal land is actually below sea level.  Guyana remained a British colony for 200 years, until 1966.  As a result, the primary language is English.  No need for interpreters!

The infrastructure of Guyana is also fairly well developed and the social structure is very stable.  This means that the planners for the trip have a much easier time organizing.  Transportation is not nearly as much of a trial when roads are maintained.  Social clubs like Rotary International also have a strong presence and can help in organizing venues to hold the clinics.

So basically, Guyana was the ideal destination because there is a need that we can meet with fewer obstacles.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

So I am planning a fundraising event that I would love to see anyone and everyone out.  A fun and tasty evening with prizes!  Please consider coming out to support the CNS Medical trip to Guyana! Please contact me for your tickets!

Euchre Tournament!!
Support the CNS International Medical Team’s Trip to Guyana

Oct. 26, 2013 at 7-9pm
$10 Entry Fee
Maranatha Christian Reformed Church
91 Elgin St. S, Cambridge

Prizes will be awarded for First, Second and Third places.

Delicious baked goods will be available for purchase.  

Beverages will be provided

We will also be accepting donations.  Any donations over $20 will receive a tax receipt.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Details Details Details!

I cannot believe I will be leaving for Guyana in less then 3 months!  I need to get moving, I know I know.  So much to do, so little time.  And I am perfectly aware that it is my own doing, too.  No need to point it out.

So it was brought to my attention that a few details were left out of my first post.  First and foremost, when am I going?

This is not our plane... but it could be...
On Friday, 29 November, we will be flying out of Toronto at 2300 and arriving on Saturday, 30 November, at 0610 in Georgetown, Guyana.  Yaaaay for direct flights! Boooooo for arriving early in the morning after likely not sleeping all night...  Luckily the brains of the operation are leaving us this day to get settled and acclimatized.  Also lucky is that it's only 1 time zone shift!

Essequibo river in the early morning, taken from this cool website

After 2 days of set up, 5 days of clinics, and 3 days to see some sights we're leaving Guyana on 10 December at 1510 and getting back in to Toronto at 2030.

At the clinics, we're hoping to see between 200-150 people every day.  We will be doing basic health teaching around dental hygiene, boiling water/water safety, and basic person hygiene.  We're expecting some long days that roll with the sun as the locations may or may not have electricity.  Clinics will start at 0830 (meaning we'll be setting up at 0700) and finishing up at around 1730 so that we can make it back to our hotel as a group before dark.

Sooo.... what do I have to do before I go?  Well.  Raise some funds, get some shots, pack some stuff, aaaaaaand don't freak out about the spiders!

One of the locals I'd really rather not meet! Original Website
I'm trying to convince my husband to come with.... to be my body guard against the 6- or 8- legged natives.... He's not buying in to my plan so far.

Please stay tuned for more news, info, and fundraising events!
Adventure on,

Thursday, 1 August 2013

What's This All About, You Ask?

In 2011 I graduated from Mohawk-McMaster, and shortly thereafter successfully wrote my registration to become a registered nurse.  This profession promises adventure no matter where or how its practiced, but I had my eyes on a very different adventure right from the moment I was inspired to become a nurse by a corny CNO ad on the TV.  What adventure, you ask?

International nursing! Medical mission trips! Taking the knowledge I have and using it to better the world we live in!  Two years after graduation, I am making that dream a reality.

Thanks to Community Nursing Services (CNS), I have the opportunity and privilege to go to the country of Guyana with a team of medical professionals and laymen to share the love and make a positive imprint on our planet.

Guyana is a non-island Caribbean country off the northern coast of South America.

It has approximately 756 040 people, the native language is English, and it is very tropical.  Life expectancy is just over 67 years of age for men and women, and the leading health concerns are malaria, high blood pressure, dental caries, and HIV.

The team I will be travelling with is composed of two medical doctors, a pharmacist, a dentist (though we may hire a local dentist if we cannot find one to take), and a flock of nurses.  We will be running clinics for five days at a variety of locations.  One of the lead organizers is actually in Guyana right now making connections with the various Rotary clubs to establish venues for the clinics.  

To go on the trip I will need to pay/raise approximately $2200 to cover flight, lodging, food, and transportation while we are there.  Any money I raise beyond that goes to medication and extra supplies, allowing us to do even more good while we are there.

Items we are looking to collect for the trip are as follows:
Sun glasses for kids and adults
Sun hats for kids and adults
Reading glasses in a variety of strengths (just the cheap dollar store ones)
Tooth brushes
Small sized tooth pastes
Small sized soaps
Empty pill bottles
Sealable bags (like ziplock bags)

If you feel you would like to make a donation to help me make this dream a reality and share the love, any donations over $20 are eligible for a tax receipt.  Any denomination is helpful!

Thanks for reading, and I will update with more info as I get it!
Adventure on!