Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The rear view mirror... provides opportunities for growth and change, and stories to share.

Everyone says how noble and exciting it is that I have given so much of myself for this event.  I can see that it is a good thing, that it is offering tools needed for their communities.  I can also see that we are helping with logistics and problem solving and developing these individuals and giving them an opportunity and interest in these skills and this knowledge. 

Along the mouth of Masaya
I also look at what I get, I am privileged to be welcomed into this community, to be trusted to give information and skills to these people who are excited to be there.  Not just excited but dedicated to their active and dynamic communities.  To hear of their successes and how they overcame battles I can never imagine.  It is phenomenal.  I realize and reflect on the fact that I have so freakin much in my world, that I am selfish and own more crap than I will ever need.  And I am humbled by the time in Nicaragua.

The group we taught this year was pulled in last minute, another local group, but none more deserving.  They do say that everything happens for a reason. They were hands on, engaged, performed skills, scenarios and worked as teams, and blew my mind.  I have to admit that I was a very proud and happy instructor. 

Public Hospital in Jinotepe
We had a strong group of women in this group, they were ready to work, and work hard, to share stories, and senses our humour.  That was cool to see.  We also saw some who were more shy, but will benefit from knowing these skills.

I sadly also saw the attitude of some boys that was unwelcome, made the women feel uncomfortable, and comments that were unprofessional and behaviours that are not appropriate for anyone to demonstrate when put in this position of power.  I expressed my unhappiness, my disbelief of their attitudes and that they need to realize the opportunity.  I wanted them to hear my voice as a woman and as other women would say.  My translator was happy that I was brave, I was happy she was brave enough to say what I was saying, I hope they think about it.  I really do.  There are a couple from the group that if they hadn't been disrespectful with the others, they would have done well.  Sigh.  The others in the whole class were unhappy with them, and expressed it that same day, men and women alike.  So they heard it from all sides.

We also met Elka, and the other Bomberos from San Marcos and Diriamba, and they spoke of their brigades, and the work they are doing.  They work for ever cent, they have ancient equipment donated from the first world nations, then through Managua and filtered down from the big city services, they have old trucks and old gear but they work hard to provide for their community.  They fight for all of their funding and their skills.  I want them to succeed and work hard... and to have the things they need to provide.  Most of all have the knowledge to work with what they do have and to move forward.  And even cover in the holes in their parking lot.

So in the end I see myself as lucky, proud and happy with the progress of those we have been lucky enough to meet.  I was excited to participate, wanting them to get the best of the group, and the group was fantastic.  Excited, fun, energetic and professional.  All lessons were taught with the ease and ingenuity of McGyver, and the spidey senses that we all develop with experience. 

2014 Progress... had to go with the group candid.

So after a time in Nicaragua, I have been lucky, I have been blessed by the beauty, the community, the energy even when it is 35C at noon, or eve 50C with humidity... like on Ometepe.  I am slowly learning to make reservations for hotel rooms, deal with money in spanish, to see and learn about the biology, economy and life in Nicaragua.  I have so many thank yous to give out, and so many that I don't know where to start.  But to those I met, talked to, shared experiences with and met up with again later on, thank you.  I'm a better person and hoping for that to carry on. Gracias Nicaragua!! :)

Cerro Negro
The world demonstrates its power, and we demonstrate our ability to work with grace... and we respect it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Tomorrow, tomorrowwwwww....

We are doing a stint on CTV tomorrow morning. We've got the BMO account number set up, and we're going on to talk about our upcoming adventure. I'm nervous again. Then tomorrow night a pub night fundraiser, always busy, and the first hockey game I will probably actually see in the entirety. Maybe it'll be one in favour of the Sens. :) Hope we get a good turn out, pass the word along! I'm keeping this brief tonight, I have stores to tell from this weekend and more coming up tomorrow. What fun! In the mean time... here is the donation link again, as it seems the one I attached onto Facebook seems to be corrupt in some way. Hope that we make our target. We're on our way but still only 1/3 of the way to the goal. Thanks again everyone! NOW... HERE'S THE LINK!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

NOW OPEN TO ACCEPTING DONATIONS!!! The button is open for business!!

I am going to attempt to post a donation button...

I find that the beginning of fundraising is usually slow, and I am not sure if it is just the same thing I do... "Oh yeah, I have to do that!" and then I wait and the few weeks before deadline I get on it... or maybe it is just the post-holiday adventure... trying to settle things up a bit.

Either way... I want to make it easier for everyone, to have access.  I don't need/want huge donations, but every little bit does help.

I spoke to two groups of medics yesterday, it was nice to be able to tell the purpose and the stories and what gets me fired up... but when i go in cold... I feel like I ramble... well I do ramble.  I have a lot to say about this experience though.  About the people and their physical, mental and emotional investment they are making to this week and how fantastic they are.  I just hope it encourages everyone to support us, to support the event.

As for events, as I ramble on here... we have TWO pub nights coming up... February 3 and March 10th.  We are going to be at MacLarens on Elgin St.  These are two Sens game nights.  There are pool tables.  Raffles and 50/50 will be taking place too.  Hoping to get everyone we can out, medics, friends, families, anyone is welcome!

Looking for suggestions on how to make a poster/banner.  I can't spend a lot of money, if anyone knows of a generous soul who will help me out, let me know!! :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Canadian Winter deep-freeze returns, my brain drifts south...

Well the weather here is intensely cold.  No better time to start having my thoughts drift southward.

Time is flying this month, and we're throwing together chili days... holy jumpin! Just hope that we get enough interest and enough chili.  I am going to throw one more together for Wednesday... just to make sure we have lots.

Then there are pub nights coming up, I'm going to do some cookie sales (yes, little ambulances and paramedics!!).  I'm hoping for some support from family and friends.  This week I need to get out and see if some businesses will support us by donating services and products for raffles.  Time flies.

I'm quite excited about the journey, but I am nervous about getting things done and doing them well.  I have been lost in time this week (I blame the head cold that is settling down on me).  It'll all go forward... and we will manage to get what we need!

Working with great translators
I realized that I am sortof missing the point though, that the fundraising is supposed to be fun! That the end justifies the means, as they say (though I don't recall who "They" is).  The new group coming is going to be the reason I am there, to share a little potentially lifesaving or limb saving information and skills with people, to have a few laughs together and to see what mischief we can get into.  I went back through those pictures from the past 2 opportunities, and I had a chuckle.  The labour and delivery videos and reaction to it still makes me chuckle, it was funny to see that the men handled it with great poise and the women actually were squirming (though some were quite young, and had never seen anything like it before).  We got pleasantly surprised that everyone wanted on their lunch and pre-dinner break, to take equipment and practice and do splints, boarding, bandaging, etc.  There were always great questions, and some fun stories.

There's time for a bit of exploration!
We had that group of boys for the past 2 sessions I was there, about 15 years old and from a rough neighbourhood in Jinotepe (next town over where we actually interact and help with informal training one night of our visit on some new equipment), they had some interesting stories from their year between, but a maturity, poise and they knew each other so well they almost didn't have to talk to each other and things got done with speed and accuracy of experienced paramedics.

We are also privileged to be nestled in a tiny community called Los Medranos.  There are a couple clothing manufacturers, known to pay well, decent hours and treat their employees well.  There are a few families there who I have been blessed to meet twice, babies who were toddlers last year and will be pre-schoolers when I return.  The girls from the English program getting more comfortable speaking English will be brave enough to speak with us.  Makes me wish though that I had more competency in Spanish... I'll see what I can pick up on line here... maybe I can figure out a few sentences?! Ha ha!

Never shy to work hard, well most of them...
Skylark is also keeping an inventory of supplies so that each community can come back with their patient care reports/statistics and restock.  They have seen a lot of good coming in from there, many opportunities and experiences for them.  The skills are being used, and the community better for it.  There were some that joined us last year that started asking for minor surgery procedures (I'm sure suturing and small wound repair), but we told them that was way out of our league.  We did get into some more indepth information, and I'm hoping to improve on things further this year, I want to get a glimpse of the wilderness first aid program and see what they teach and how.  

Finish teaching then off to Corn Islands to relax!
So I am reminding myself that this process is important, this little bit of stress and creativity and balancing the schedule is important.  That once I am there I can see why I did this all.  I can also see why others are so intimidated by this preparation.  It's not like booking a flight to Mexico, taking a bus to a resort and having time to frolic for a week.  It is a week of teaching, there is preparation required, and it does take a lot of energy.  There is the chance to see the towns, visit grassroots ambulance services and play some evening soccer with some of the participants for fun!  Is it worth it? You bet! :) Is it relaxing? In it's own way you feel damned good by the end of the day.  :)

So, for anyone wondering... I'm starting to get excited.  The -35 windchill this morning is making that much easier too!  I can't wait for the sun, warm temperatures, cool evenings and gotta admit the rum and proper coke (real sugar people!!). 

So thanks to those who are ready to help out, I hate asking for money but it sure does make this a great opportunity for me but also for the Nicaraguans who come to participate.

There is always a reward for hard work, right? Warmth, sun, a little bit of rum?

Thanks again Everyone!

Friday, January 17, 2014

First event... and how to bring in the donations?

Well, next week is Chili days...
We set it up at the Paramedic Headquarters, and our colleagues are generous and help us out.

I am trying to figure out best fundraising options, like the website fundraising sites that will help you get everything into paypal, which has worked in the past.  Examples such as crowdirise, fundrazr and rocket hub.
The downfall to these sites is the 4.5% and more that they take.  Some take off paypal and credit card fees too.

Anyone have any ideas about how to properly fundraise? What is the easiest way to collect donations? I can take email money transfers or do one of these online things.  We have the Bank Of Montreal branches in Ottawa set up to accept money for Nicaragua 2013 - Progress in Paramedicine, we are working on changing the name to something more generic.

Pass on your ideas!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fundraising, cookies and adventures...

I want you!
I want a group of people who find sharing our knowledge a blast!
5 days of teaching, interacting, maybe even learning some new Spanish words? The bonus is working with a community and working with people who are passionate. 
Unlike giving stuff and money, we are giving knowledge and skills, these things are much more challenging to use.  It is also the opportunity to bring out our inner McGyver and see our jobs from a different perspective.
We always luck out with the groups we get to teach.  We always find that they have a surplus of motivation, and interest in the skills.  Nor do I blame them for that... I still remember learning to lifeguard, my first first-aid course and my first experience in school training to be a paramedic - it was exciting... there's a certain romance in the Emergency fields... and some days a little cape....  We have stuff to offer.

The challenge that seems to intimidate everyone - fundraising.  Every year my friends and family have been wholeheartedly supporting me when I tell them what I am doing.  It is a busy week, with opportunities for relaxation, and a chance to see a community.  I'm excited to go back a third time and see the kids as they grow up further.  The tiny ones I met while they were in diapers and bare feet should now be running to keep up to their older siblings and causing mischief.  They are a gracious community, they are hard working with what little they have. 

The interesting part is that they never ask us for stuff.  They don't expect that we are just going to dump our suitcases for them.  Everything or anything that is left that is not first aid equipment is used to provide for the community but it is provided as a store setting, a chance for them to purchase what they have earned.  Prices are mere pennies, but the money goes into the community through programming.  They support themselves.  They in essence provide themselves with support, education and community. 

We have had a couple more people drop out.  I admit my challenge is engaging people, time is difficult, and email and text messaging don't always seem to translate the experience.  So a reminder... :)

 Spinals and burns,

Splinting and babies...

Allergies and asthma...

What don't we cover!

Working in a community,
Working to support the community.

 Each year we return we watch the growth

Each year we get to work with new faces and people.

Participants join us from the Carazo province, they are some bigger towns, some tiny villages and some very remote places isolated during different seasons.

We know our jobs and we know our skills. 

This year we are providing basic knowledge and skills to provide each community with a resource to promote healthy communities.

In the off time, we go exploring...
Icecream runs into the city
Maybe even Laguna de apoyo!

Share your stores and adventures,
Learning and working to provide resources currently missing in Nicaragua.

Share a few laughs, work with people you haven't worked with before, watch skills get retained.

It is no lounging mexican beach vacation but you'll have the chance to do some for a few days after the teaching.

Lots of chances for a beach vacation, this is a great chance to have relaxation and work have a little overlapping...

It's tricky to say that it isn't intense.  If you have never taught before it can be intimidating.  We have knowledge in our heads that is second nature.  This is a way to share it... and it gives back to people who need it.

I hope more people volunteer, put up the $1000 and help raise their own $1500.  We are under way, there is lots of support and a very unique adventure.  :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Excellent opportunity to learn and practice

I am working on my Bachelor of Education in Adult Education currently, just on the second course of 5, but this course is one on facilitation and effective communication essentially.  I am just getting in to the text book, and it is all about facilitating and process of sharing information.

I am actually sitting here realizing that in April that these skills are going to begin getting used.  It is essentially a teaching role, but working with the other paramedics is being the facilitator.  I just wish that getting the group together would be easier.

Next week I am doing my first fundraiser - Chili Luncheon.  I need to make vast amounts of chili.  I think there are only 3 of us contributing and I would really like to do lunch and then evening batch starts.  I forget how difficult this is sometimes, being invested in the planning and processing of the event. 

The reception from what we have been told, has been outstanding by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA).  They would love for us to take this through out the country and not just the province we are currently serving.  The challenge of course is getting people who are interested.  We had lots of interest initially, but it seems to have died down a bit.  I'm hoping we get a good group.  Time is ticking though, so it may be smaller this year. 

Anyway, the plans are coming together, working to get enough money raised for all of us! This is always the challenge.