On July 1, 2012, Joe Roberts, a former Homeless man, will push a shopping cart from Calgary, Alberta, Canada to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. A trek of 1000 Kilometers! The best part? This is only a warm up. On March 1, 2013 Joe will take his shopping cart from St. John, Newfoundland, Canada across the country for a 8000 Kilometer trek.
The goal? To create sustainable change for the homeless youth of Canada.
If your interested in learning more or helping the cause Check out their website: http://www.thepushforchange.com/
As many of you may already know, 16 of the RMA staff participated in Habitat for Humanity on Friday June 15, 2012. The build was located in a new development in Airdrie and the homes were going to two single parent families.
After a brief safety overview, all participants got suited up and went off to work. There were several jobs to be done from painting to installing Kitchen cabinets. Our staff broke into groups and worked side-by-side with other Habitat volunteers to make progress on these homes.
Our staff all agreed it was a nice break from the office and a great way to celebrate our success while making a difference for others. If you ever get the opportunity, this experience is one where you can learn a lot, have some fun, meet new people and enjoy the rewarding feeling of knowing you’re changing someone’s life.
Visit the website for information if you would like to volunteer for a Habitat for Humanity build near you.
Here I was, down in Guatemala, in a 12 person van, being driven half an hour away from our hotel, to go into the mountains of a nearby village. Our van driver barely understands English. We have two translators, one who is nervous to be translating for the first time, and they are barely talking to us. Butterflies are in my stomach as we are taking corners on these mountainous roads. What was I doing here? I’m not going to be able to help anyone. Sure, I might know a thing or two, but how can I help people here in Panajachel, Guatemala? Especially, since I’m not yet a doctor.
It all started as an idea. Wouldn’t it be nice to go somewhere for the February long weekend? I mean don’t get me wrong, I love home, but somewhere warm and sunny would be nice. Then I found out that there were a couple trips planned; One to Guatemala, Haiti, Africa and Nicaragua. Which one do I go too?! They all sound like fun. I tried to go to a couple meetings, but only made one. Thank God I’m friends with Shayla, whose the school’s chapter head of “Naturopaths without Borders” and she told me all about the Guatemala trip.
What, we need fundraising? Where am I going to get anything to help raise funds? I’m not even from around Toronto! I know some people at RMA, maybe they’ll donate something…seriously…you have an extra Ipad lying around? Awesome! That gets us $2200. Wow this is really happening! I’m leaving for Guatemala!!!
So the van arrived without us falling off the side of the mountain. Dr. Pryce with “Naturopathic Medicine for Global Health” (NMGH) helped to settle the butterflies by organizing the day and explaining the ropes. We met the owner of the clinic and set up shop. As soon as we settled in, the people started coming! First thing’s first, we need to take blood pressure.
“No, don’t straighten your arm”
“You’re raising your arm higher! You call that relaxed?”
“I’m strong. I can hold your weight”
“Really, I may look skinny, but I’ve eaten my veggies and can hold it. I swear!”
“Stop video taping me Dr. Pryce!”
“Like as if you were Jello”
“As if you were pudding?”
“Like as if you were dead!?”
After finally taking blood pressure the people had many things to tend to:
My daughter’s leg is longer than the other. I’m trying to get pregnant. I ache. I ache…everywhere!! Can you help my gastritis? What about this urinary tract infection? My stomach is so long that I can’t move my knees and it prevents me from doing physical exercise. I have this hemorrhoid… My son’s legs need to be straightened. I think I have a parasite. There’s this swelling on my neck. I have diarrhea/constipation/cough/skin problems, etc.
Then finding out about their day was even more interesting! “You use coffee to put the kids to sleep? Seriously?! You drink only 7 cups of coffee and no water?! You have been eating this random plant because someone said it will help your diabetes? (Later on finding out it was the wrong plant). You get a really bad headache, it’s usually after getting mad at your husband and don’t let him know you’re mad at him? You have how many kids? Who tried to give Dr. Carlos their baby?!?
Thank you RMA for your support! You not only have helped us make it down to Guatemala, but you gave us the chance to help many more in a place that doesn’t have very much. A place where a trip to the doctor can cost a whole year’s worth of wages. It allowed me to feel like I actually know something, am able to apply it and I got to learn many lessons, especially from three different Naturopathic Doctors involved with “Naturopathic Medicine for Global Health” (NMGH); Dr. Carlos, Dr. Robinson and Dr. Pryce.
Dr. Carlos – To really apply medicine, you have to get to know a person and take your time with them. This might be going to their house and truly seeing how they live. Or just sitting with them and hearing their story fully.
Dr. Robinson –Be direct, expect the best and never give up. Whether it be your rights, your beliefs, your value/worth and don’t be taken advantage of. Even if it’s for 3 US dollars!
Dr. Pryce – We are all equals in this world and we are all connected. With this, we can all learn from one another. That kindness and compassion can go a long way.
Not only did they teach me these things, but they showed me that I actually have learned much in school, I am able to apply myself correctly and it made a difference, it’s important to be yourself, and lastly to remember to take time to sit back, relax and enjoy a nice cold beverage after a hard day’s work, particularly, if you’re doing it all again the next day.
- Greg Sikorski ND (cand. 2013)
My departure date for Cap Haïtien was February 9th, 2012. I was preparing to go and volunteer at a clinic in Morne Rouge called MamaBaby Haiti, where myself and nine other students from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine would be working with Naturopaths Without Borders, serving the health needs of the local communities through Naturopathic care.
I spent the month prior preparing in many ways. There were the logistics; our large checked suitcases had been commandeered and stuffed to the max with generous donations of supplements and medical supplies. It left us with only our carry on luggage available to use for personal packing—such as clothes, shoes, and medical equipment. This task was difficult, but we all wanted to ensure we brought as many donations as possible for the clinic, the patients and the people of Haiti. And then there was the emotional; a trip of this nature can be overwhelming if you fly in with no previous thought or intention of what you are hoping for it to be and what you are going to be faced with. I had no idea how I would be affected emotionally so I focused on what I was hoping to learn. As a first year student, my experience was quite limited. I wanted to learn about different conditions, and how they could be recognized, ruled out, and treated. I wanted to learn physical exams that I had not yet the privilege to learn. I wanted to learn what the important questions were and when to ask them.
We were thrown into clinic as soon as we arrived, and spent every day either in the clinic, or setting up community clinics, seeing as many patients as we possibly could, with the limited resources we had.
Over the course of the 7 days we spent in clinic, I learned more than I was expecting to.
I indeed learned about many different conditions, a variety of different ways of how to treat them, and witnessed how powerful naturopathic medicine is.
I performed physical examinations with confidence and ease and could engage in conversation with the supervisors of what I had discovered.
And I did entire patient intakes on my own by the end of the week, because I had learned the right questions (with supervision of course).
And it didn’t stop there. I also learned the power of a smile, ones that can offer empathy and empowerment and ones that can share pure gratitude and grace.
I learned how to listen with more than just my ears. There are stories and clues in someone’s eyes, hands, posture, and voice that transcend words and language barriers.
I also learned the profound importance of the therapeutic relationship. Language barriers and culture differences aside, we are all human beings, all programmed to search and desire connection with others. At the end of the day we want relief from our pain, yes. But the power of being present for someone’s story and making the decision to join them in that journey can help relieve other pains, even for just a moment.
And perhaps the greatest lesson I learned was that we could go with suitcases heavy and full, ready to help, but if we do not go with our hearts open and full, we are not ready to serve. With a full heart we can give and with an open heart we can receive. You cannot prepare emotionally for something like this except to commit to being present and taking everything one moment at a time.
My trip with Naturopaths Without Borders and MamaBaby Haiti was an unforgettable experience and success. We were not the only ones giving. Each and every patient had something important to share, so long as we took the time to sit, smile, and listen.
So though my suitcase was exceptionally lighter on the way home, I was carrying much more back with me.
- Jennifer Hupe, CCNM Student