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In the Company of Heroes

I don’t get to spend enough time in New Brunswick. This trip is a bit different. I’m a little anxious about it. I’m receiving an award for my work with Team Broken Earth. But that’s just it… it’s not just my work.

I know I’ve said this a million times and I’m not trying to create any false modesty, but this is really a team effort. There are many hands lifting, many hands on the oars. This is something I don’t take lightly. I know I represent everyone who has given of their time or talents. Those who support us at home and abroad. Those who have donated or attended an event. Everyone who has believed in and trusted us to make a difference.

Sitting in the awards hall today was one of the proudest days I have had in the journey of Team Broken Earth. I was sitting in the company of fellow Canadians receiving medals and recognition for bravery, humanitarian efforts, and volunteer service. Listening to the biographies of those winning awards reinforced to me that Canada is more than three oceans, the “second largest landmass, and the first nation of hockey.” Canada is its people. People define the maple leaf. People like those who are walking across the stage today.

Watching the Governor General pin medals of awards on the chests of Canadians, my heart was full of pride, not just for Team Broken Earth but that we are fortunate enough to live in a country where people sacrifice themselves for others, to make this place a better place to live. People like Leon, a fish plant worker from St Lawrence who risked his life saving the life of a man who had gone through the ice on his ATV. Leon pulled the man to safety, lighting a fire and giving the man his own clothes in the middle of a cold Newfoundland winter day.

Anne Michelle Curtis’ story brought tears to my eyes. She was a mother who lost her life rescuing her son and two boys. She swam with the boys on her back through heavy waves in Nova Scotia and she eventually was overcome by exhaustion. She made the ultimate sacrifice. She gave her life so all three boys could survive.

Or there was one of the brave soldiers at the scene of the attack at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa in 2014. He remained calm and was able to provide first aid to one of the soldiers injured in the attack.

For us on Team Broken Earth, it was our story in Haiti. While I was accepting the award, I felt the weight of representing my family, of representing Newfoundland and Labrador, of representing the thousands of Canadian volunteers, and the weight of the responsibility of ensuring we never give up on Haiti.

This year we are celebrating 150 years of Canada and reflecting on what it means to be Canadian. Is there a Canadian dream? There is. It’s one built on the principles of diversity, equality, freedom and social justice for all. Above everything else, empathy to our neighbours. Not just in Port aux Basques, Ottawa or Vancouver but around the world.

Whether it is the poor of Haiti, a child in danger in Nova Scotia or an attack our nation’s capital, what makes us Canadian is that we choose not to look away.

For me, when I reflect on Canada 150 and what it means to be Canadian, I look at the people around me at this ceremony. I look at this medal pinned to my lapel. I see Allison, mom and dad smiling from the audience. And I think of my boy someday asking me about all this. I’ll tell him the stories of the people in this room. I’ll tell him about the sacrifice and dedication of everyone involved on Team Broken Earth. That’s a lesson in what it means to be Canadian. That’s what it’s like to stand in the company of heroes.

– Andrew

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The weight of expectations and how they never leave you.

I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.

– Michelle Obama


I’m not someone who takes things for granted. Yeah, I count my blessings. Everyone should. I know I’m lucky. I’ve grown up with loving, nurturing, caring parents who gave me the tools to get an education, create a career and start my own family. If that’s not lucky I don’t know what is.

Still, something baffles me. My parents. They never made crazy demands on me. Never pushed me or made heated demands that I push myself. They didn’t air any overwhelming disappointment if I failed. So let me ask you this: why is it that I felt their expectations daily? Where does that come from? Is it the same for everyone? Do we create those expectations in our heads? Do I now project unintentional or intentional expectations on my own kids? Is it a good thing?  Regardless of the source, it’s there. My parents. For me, these are giant shoulders to stand on. The largest shoes to fill.

I’ve talked about my dad before. He came from humble beginnings, without the warm embrace or guidance of an involved father. He not only survived, he flourished. From growing up in an orphanage, to skipping grades, graduating, becoming a teacher, then a lawyer, and eventually a Canadian parliamentarian. You can probably feel the pride I have radiating from these words. Yes, he’s my dad but living up to this legacy is a stage set for Shakespeare.

Why is this coming up now? Well, my parents are coming to visit Haiti for the first time. And I’m feeling things I don’t usually feel. Nervousness. Anxiety. I mean, they’ve heard my stories, read my blogs, and seen the pictures, but will the real thing live up to their expectations of me? All of sudden I’m ten years old bringing home a report card. Will I make them proud?

Flashback to 2010. Post earthquake. When I first suggested I was going to go to help the medical relief effort, my father tried to talk me out of it. He said I should really think about my young family, maybe the time was not right for me, I should probably wait and do this kind of work when my career was established and my family was grown. To not take the risk, not just for my safety, but for my future. I’m not sure I would have provided different advice to my daughter Rachael if I was in my father’s shoes. He was always right. I always listened. But something in my heart told me this time was different. I took this step untethered and it was terrifying.

Seven years later. Will he see what I see? Will he see the despair and the faces of need? Most importantly, will he see the hope that I see? I’ve seen countless people come here and not see the progress. It’s bad here. But if you didn’t see it when it was hopeless, what are you gauging it against?

Of course they will see the tangible accomplishments: the new building and the ambulance. But will they see how far we have come? They will not get to witness the rubble on the streets or the tent ORs from 2010. They will not get to see the face of the little girl thanking us for helping her grandfather. They will not get to see the first total hip replacement patient, or the first time we fired up the new autoclave. They will not experience the little victories or the defeats that have become simple lines on all our faces.

Mom, dad, I hope I have set the scene.  Until now you’ve only had mine and Allison’s stories to reference. But this is real now. What our team has accomplished. How far we still have to go. It’s real and I am nervous that what you’ll see will not reflect what I see, what I have seen. Will this meet your expectations? Will I? Dad, will you think the decision I made to come here in the first place was right?

I guess I am about to find out.

Andrew

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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Create a legacy by being the solution.

I’m not being naïve. I believe that every problem is just a solution waiting to happen. At the heart of it, this is what our team is doing in Haiti, in Bangladesh, in Nicaragua, in the places we will go next. We all believe that change is real and it can happen because we will make it happen, one surgery at a time if we have to.

But believe it or not I get challenged often about Team Broken Earth. About what we are doing. Specifically around our ability to make a difference. It’s often phrased as how can you possibly make a difference? The problem is too big. From others it’s often asking how can we make a sustainable difference, being too small to create and maintain capacity?

Honestly this sometimes feels like a kick in the guts. I do welcome all criticism. We need it. All organizations do. It’s a reality check and it’s a means of making us all better. But every now and then, well, it just stings.

As I am sitting in the back of a room of 2/3’s of the orthopaedic surgery residents of Haiti, one week after the Rock Op for Haiti in Newfoundland, a smile comes to my face. Across Canada we have created something really special. We have done more than create sustainability, we have created a legacy that will live long after many Team Broken Earth members have moved on.

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Yesterday, we toured the hospital we’ve been working in for years now. We walked through the OR we helped finish. We saw the new hospital ward full of patients and volunteer quarters we built (referred to by locals as the Canada tower or Broken Earth tower). The millions of dollars worth of equipment we have secured is on display and the staff are there to greet us with an embrace usually reserved for family members. The building and the relationships we have built are all part of the Team Broken Earth legacy. The team even saw a few patients yesterday, and looked at X-rays of the first bilateral total hip replacements done in Haiti with surgeons from Canada and Haiti working side by side.

Today, we are teaching residents from across the country in a series of lectures and in skills simulation labs for residents to practice. This is the third time we have hosted this course. And to watch the senior residents (who were junior before) teach the new junior residents, well, it just fills me with pride. It’s these young surgeons, full of energy and enthusiasm, who will change orthopaedic care in Haiti. And we are teaching them, year after year.

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So when I think about the criticisms, I have to say thank you.

Thank you for inspiring reflection and making sure that we are moving in the right direction. When people talk about making a difference for patients, I think about how many children Dr. Rideout has literally given the ability to smile to, or the patient with two new hips who would otherwise not have access to care. We, all of us on and supporting Team Broken Earth, made a difference for those patients. Capacity and sustainability? We got that. We’re establishing infrastructure, relationships and education. We are creating a legacy. A Canadian legacy here and abroad. I feel better about that. And to the critics I will say this: believe in solutions. The mountain is high but it can be climbed. The finish line is far but it will be crossed. Yes, always address the problem. But be the solution.

Best,

Andrew

PS. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came, supported, donated, organized, cooked, sang, and danced with us at the Rock Op over a week ago. Truly amazing night. As always, we will honour your generosity by continuing helping those who need it most.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Loss is a void. Love is how you fill it.

When you work in a place where loss is an every day occurrence, it changes something in you. Empathy is always there, yes, but when you’ve seen so much loss so often you begin to get a little numb to it. That’s a harsh reality of the medical profession. And it’s not to say that you’ve become cold or indifferent. Not at all. It’s just that the acceptance of loss can be part of your routine. It loses some of its smack that way and you catch yourself saying those time-honoured clichés… it’ll be ok or it’ll get better with time. But loss has a way of reaching you when you least expect it. An unwanted surprise when the phone rings in the middle of the night.

I guess I keep my cards close to my chest. I don’t usually air what I’m feeling. I internalize a lot. But perhaps writing this blog is cathartic, maybe even selfish, as I hope to find some solace in sharing the experience of loss with others. Maybe they’ve been down this road. Or maybe this is just my way of filling the void. Doctors often find a place to hide their emotions, take a deep breath and deliver bad news. I never quite developed the skill for it. God bless those who have. It’s probably why I chose a specialty that deals largely in fixing things when they can be fixed. There are always better odds on a happy ending.

But life is predictably unpredictable. As soon as we are old enough to understand what it means to live and breath, we realize the antithesis. Yet no matter the duration of this knowledge, the loss of a loved one is overwhelming, like being hit with the harsh truth of life, smacking you in the chest, leaving you breathless.

Last month, my father-in-law, Richard Taylor, passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack. He was 65. He was not only Allison’s dad but also my children’s “pops,” and my friend. The relationship between a father-in-law and his son-in-law is storied to not always be an easy one. Rick made it look easy. He taught me that it was ok to live different lives, to try and accomplish different goals, to wear different hats, as long as you had the equipoise of family first. That piece of wisdom has meant so much to me.

I’m travelling home, trying to reconcile a memorial service, which I just attended for someone who had such a large influence in my family’s life. The service itself was a beautiful and moving tribute to a dynamic, caring husband, father and grandfather.

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With a fire truck standing guard outside, and a sea of black uniformed solemn fire fighters inside, surrounded by family and friends, it concluded with a five-bell salute, the fire code that the truck is home safe and sound. There were multiple testimonials about the different facets of Rick’s life as a fire fighter, paramedic, pastor, youth leader, friend, and colleague. It was a heartfelt capture of his life.   There were many sad moments, many breathtaking memories, but perhaps the true reflection of his life, his true memory, was in his grandchildren playing happily while remembering their pops with the innocence that only belongs to children.

But the void is still there. I see it most dramatically hanging over Allison’s head. She smiles for the kids’ sake. She greets friends and visitors. She’s being the rock she’s always been. But look closer. There’s that thousand-mile stare that comes with grief. Loss is hard but seeing how it weighs on the ones you love, that feels even harder. I started writing this by wondering what fills that void. What gives you your breath back. Then it hit me. It’s not about the void. It’s about celebrating the legacy. Rick’s is already overflowing with the love of his family and everyone who remembers him.

I’ve done countless presentations on Broken Earth to audiences of all sizes. But the thought of having to stand up in front of group and say a few words about Rick… that, that was the most intimidating. Below is an excerpt of my remarks from his service that I wanted to share with you…

 

“Pops” lived his life with the frequently proclaimed mantra: Peace and Love. He did this by committing his life to service. In fact, I think it is accurate to say that he lost himself in service to others in need, and thereby to God and most importantly, to his wife, daughters and family.

 I first met Rick in 1997, before Allison and I were dating. It was immediately obvious that he had an intense and immense love of life. Since those years, I was privileged to learn myself how to open my heart… to learn from him that there are no limits to love.

Rick always led by example. He ran into buildings from which people were running. Flew into accident scenes from which people were fleeing. I often wondered how many people are alive today, how many people can live freely today because of Rick’s courage and service to others.

Rick was a spiritual person. He served God and his community. I was a full-fledged member of the family when Rick was a pastor and I observed his dedication to the community: baptizing, running church camps, officiating at weddings, administering the last rights. Rick was a spiritual leader.

Beyond saving lives and his spiritual ministry… even beyond golf… Rick’s most heartfelt service was to his family. His commitment to his family is something I strive to emulate daily. His love and dedication to his wife was the stuff of art… forty-four years! I’ve watched Rick and Deb interact with such poetic flare, such music, that they always seemed to be on their first date. Rick’s smile was always a tad wider when Deb was in the room. 

In truth, because of his dedication to Allison, I owe my family life to Rick. The day Allison’s medical school application was due, Rick had to race across town to get a transcript and have it post-dated the same day. When the first post office was closed, he raced to another one and begged the clerk to post-mark it for that day even though they were closed. He pleaded that his daughter’s future depended on it. How easy it would have been to quit at the first post office. And how different my life would be! 

His love for his grandchildren was what we read in storybooks. Meeting us in Disney, taking Maggie on stroller rides around Washington, Rachael to soccer, Mark to hockey. The endless trips to movie theatres and local stores for treats. Yes, pops was a storybook grandfather. My children are blessed to have had him in their lives.

As a family we are all stronger for having known him. We are more caring for having loved him, and more courageous for having had him in our lives. I take great solace in knowing that his spirit lives in our hearts and especially in the hopes and dreams of his grandchildren.

When people question the current state of the American Dream, I suggest we point to Pops. When they wrote the famous words: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the founding fathers had people like Rick in mind. 

Life: Rick lived life fully. He loved life and he made the lives of those around him better.  

Liberty: from a rough start, Rick rose through the ranks and seized the day… the freedom to raise a family and love them with every fiber of his being. And he always found the freedom for his second great passion: golf.

Pursuit of Happiness: for Rick, there was no “pursuit” of happiness. Happiness was a by-product of his being… with his family and his community… and all those magical moments that gave his life such rich meaning.  

Let us be grateful for the presence among us of one who truly lived the American Dream. Peace and Love, Rick… Peace and Love.

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For Allison, for all members of the Taylor family, and everyone else whose life Rick touched. For those out there tonight dealing with a loss in their own life. For us all. Find the peace that comes in knowing that cherished memories are eternal. Find the love in every moment with the ones you love. Hold them in your heart. That’s how you fill the void.

  • Andrew

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The women who cut the path we walk.

Before the term ever became prominent in today’s culture, I am and have been a feminist. It’s not a stance I’m taking. It’s not political. It’s quite simply just how I was raised. It’s been engrained in my family’s history. It’s who I am, what I have done, what I am doing, and I owe it to the influence of strong women.

Growing up, I’m not sure I would have fully recognized their influence. But today, especially being International Women’s Day, it’s important that we celebrate how women have shaped who we are. More importantly, it helps us realize how far we have to go to create equality and gender parity.

In the 1950’s, my grandmother was a homemaker, a loving, caring mother of eight children in a rural catholic community in Newfoundland and Labrador. Facing a troubling situation at home, she somehow found the guts, the very deep courage and strength to make a change. She took all of her eight children, one just a baby, and left her community in search of a better, safer place to raise her family. Under a cloak of secrecy, and with only an inner courage, little money, or even time to pack, she made a long trek to St. John’s with eight young children by her side.

Arriving with five boys and three girls, nowhere to live, and nowhere to stay, the boys found a home in Mount Cashel, and the girls in Belvedere Orphanage. With hope in her heart and desire to keep the family united, she maintained the family unit, against insurmountable odds, finding a job at Mount Cashel as a cook, being able then to afford to visit her daughters while keeping an eye on her sons. I often wonder about those initial 1950’s Newfoundland days, the decision she was faced with, the unknown, the panic, the fear, but above all, the strength. The hardships she knew she was accepting. The unknown journey she was embarking on. All in a heroic effort to save her family. I can’t think of a better role model.

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My grandmother passed away at 88 years of age surrounded by her children and family. Her dying words: “I am just not ready to leave you all yet.” She never has.

My family has been defined by the influence of strong women. My aunt was a catholic nun, Sister Rosalita. She was the oldest of the Furey clan who made the trek in the dark of night to St. John’s. She was that second layer of glue that held the family together. Being a Catholic nun in the 1960’s through to the 90’s could not have been an easy time, especially for Rose, a trendsetter, an agent of change and a maverick. She was not only spiritually sound in her beliefs, but was philosophically and academically a powerhouse way ahead of her time.

From driving motorcycles, to setting up an Apple computer lab for a high school in the 80’s, she broke the mold. She devoted her life to caring for the poor, travelling to underserviced areas for education and spiritual guidance, she was a beacon of change.  She was tough, and often feared by students, but with a heart bigger than life and an ability to push people to greater heights.

Before Rose died, she was completing her PhD in math. I remember being in grade 4, sitting around the kitchen table while Rose taught me the Pythagorean theory, not letting me leave until I understood the sum of squares, and the purity of math.

She cut her own path in life often taking us along for the ride to see the first generation Mac computer, some new camera lens she had found, a new type of garden, or even taking my dirt bike for a long ride. I adored her. I aspired to be like her and miss her dearly. She was a woman ahead of her time.

Of course my life has been influenced by women beyond my family. I first met Zahida, a kind, soft spoken woman from Dhaka, Bangladesh. I had the pleasure of watching her in a classroom setting, and amongst leaders from around the world, her star out glowed the rest. I went to visit Zahida first in 2015. It became clear immediately that her kindness was only surpassed by her devotion to help. The respect and dedication as the CEO of a large charity caring for homeless children, people who could not afford health care, and teaching women about social programs and how to create small businesses was both aspirational and inspirational. I walked behind her in awe, taking notes, in pure admiration. I try to carry Zahida in everything I do.

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The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is #BeBoldForChange, and encourages everyone to focus on creating a more inclusive, gender-equal working world and getting to an equal 50-50 at work by 2030.

In order to feel safe and equal at work, women must first feel safe and equal at home.

The statistics on intimate partner abuse are staggering. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women will experience some form of physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partner, and 38% of murders of women are committed by male intimate partners.

In order to achieve the goal of 50-50 at work, we cannot forget the women who cannot, or will not make it out of the home for work because of domestic violence. This is not just a Canadian problem, or a North American problem, this is a global problem. As I have travelled, I have witnessed it first hand in many countries. It’s a global issue and requires global solutions. Days like today help us remember.

50-50. It sounds like the kind of goal that should already exist. But here it is an ambitious global goal for even 2030. While fixing the problem in North America would be a massive accomplishment, it does not help the 16 year-old sex worker in Dhaka with a scar of the profession permanently tattooed on her face. Providing women around the world with more mentors of change, like Zahida, is a start. As I watched Zahida gracefully stroll the crowded streets of Dhaka, I could not help but see the smile of my grandmother, and the passion of my aunt.

On days like today we need to celebrate the women in leadership roles. They will help us all rectify the inequalities that exist throughout the work place. As men, we need the courage it takes to support this, to openly advocate for it. Only 4.8% of Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs.  Nothing justifies this massive inequality. We need to do better, not just today, everyday. We need to strike a balance.

The courage, strength and leadership of these women are only a few examples of how I have been lucky to be surrounded by powerful women. My wife, Allison, is an Emergency Room doctor, a veteran of Broken Earth missions and a caring, attentive mother. I have two sisters I admire and look up to, and of course my own mother who I love dearly. I also have two daughters. For them most of all, I want to see change. To see the 50-50 realized. To have a world of opportunity open to them based on who they are, not to what gender they belong.

To all the influential, dedicated, never-quitting, always-inspiring women out there, I stand with you today on International Women’s Day.

– Andrew

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Look a little closer: keeping positive in the age of doubt.

It all kinda makes you want to stop looking at the news. The turmoil is undeniable. Recent world events have left some feeling down, disillusioned and even depressed. We appear to be on a path of applying a negative lens, and I fear it is becoming all-consuming. But look a little closer. Are we actually in tough times?

There is no question that 2016 and the beginning of 2017 have had some disheartening and questionable behaviors of not just a few, but many.  There is no doubt that these actions are a gigantic Trump-sized anchor weighing on our collective conscious and subconscious mind.

But there’s the trick, and the psychological fallacy we must overcome.

Just because there have been two or three or even 10 or 20 negative events, we cannot let our lens be anchored here. It is our duty and responsibility to be skeptical and at times fearful, but we cannot lose site of the overwhelming positivity around the world.

Hope and courage outweigh it all on a local, national and global stage every single day. It is easy to be sucked into the often-gigantic shadows of negativity, but we need to resist that move, and instead celebrate more frequently, more loudly, and with more enthusiasm the positive messages of hope.

Yes, 2016 was hard. But we must look at what goes into making the glass half full. In my profession, good news is there if you look for it. According to the UN child mortality rates are down everywhere around the world. The rate of deaths from malaria is down by 60%.  We’ve made great strides to eradicate Ebola. World hunger has reached some of its lowest levels in 25 years. The Paris agreement, albeit in current flux, has made the world take notice, recognize and act on climate change.

In St. John’s, Team Broken Earth launched our first refugee clinic drawing on local resources and talent to help care for new Canadians. Nationally, we grew to include 7 provinces, representing hundreds of Canadians united in making a difference in healthcare, and health education to those living in countries in desperate need. New teams from Quebec, Saskatoon and Barrie, Ontario joined the effort.

But by far the most impressive national team effort was lead by Dr. Barter to respond to Hurricane Matthew, drawing on volunteers from across Canada to unite and care for thousands of patients in the immediate aftermath of the natural disaster.

Internationally, we expanded to ensure there was more education with trauma, orthopedic, anesthesia and critical care courses in Haiti, even with our first volunteer from Australia. We also provided a trauma course in Bangladesh.  A team has even approached us from Massachusetts to carry the Broken Earth flag. We also expanded to begin to send teams to Guatemala and Nicaragua. Yes, look closer and see yourself in every part of these little wins, these reasons to smile.

Do we live in troubling times? Yes. But fear can be a motivator. We need to have the courage to resist the temptation of negativity, resist this anchor to our course, and reset our direction based on the good that is happening in the world.

The bright side so often eludes us. The tough stand on immigration in the States is all over the news but in Canada it was met with a continued commitment to embracing immigrants and refugees as the responsible, ethical, most Canadian thing we can do. Even more recently (and tragic) is the inexplicable murder of 6 people in Quebec, gunned down while they prayed at their Mosque. It’s such a dark and sorrowful moment that has been greeted with an outpouring of love and support across Canada and around the world.

Yes. Look closer and see it.

See where we can shift the dynamic from what is happening to us to how we react to it. Trust me, bridging that gap will make all the difference.

Best,

Andrew

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The origins of inspiration and how it constantly redefines itself.

I get asked one question a lot: “where do you get your inspiration?”

I find it a little tough to answer. Maybe not so much answer but narrow down. I’ve been blessed to know, work with, learn from and listen to some truly inspiring people and organizations. Sometimes I just don’t have the words. It’s Thanksgiving in the States this week. I’m here with Allison and the kids visiting her parents on the West Coast. There’s a lot of love around. A lot to be thankful for these days. It’s good to pause and inventory our gratitude and inspirations.

In the wake of the devastating hurricane in Haiti, Team Broken Earth was immediately committed to respond and make a difference in the relief effort. But we didn’t know what that effort would look like or what would be involved. We were asked before the storm even landed to begin to assemble a team. I didn’t know what to expect or who we would need. Felt like déjà vu.

Quickly the local team in Haiti, working 24-hr days, made an assessment of what the needs would be. We made some quick decisions. Figured out what skills were needed to go but had no idea if we could meet the last minute emergency demands. This was so stressful. In this hour of need, none of us wanted to let the people of Haiti down.

Turns out, in true Broken Earth fashion, all we had to do was ask. With one email to our national family, we had what we needed to set out and answer the call for help. Flying into the middle of a natural disaster was not going to be easy. But our members rose to the occasion and stood out as a force that was able to partner with others and see over 4000 patients.

These are the true heroes. The very best inspiration. Our volunteers from coast to coast, a true Canadian effort, were welcomed in the town of Jeremie, a devastated community on the South West coast of Haiti in the path of the eye of the hurricane. They were celebrated as being front and center in the relief effort. Our volunteers took a leap of faith, answering a call for help, walking into the unknown with one purpose: to help.

Heroes walk among us everyday. This is where I get my inspiration.

People like Jim Maher, who step up and leave work and his family on a moments notice, risking his own health and safety to help the people of Haiti. Why does he do it? It’s not because it is a part of his job, not because he is getting paid overtime, not for fame or accolades, but because he can. And he’s not alone.

Inspiration is all around us.

Amid all that’s going on, from the election in Haiti to continuing to organize our expansion team, I received a message from a parent at my children’s school. She asked it if it was ok if her daughter for her ninth birthday party could announce to her friends that, in lieu of gifts, could they please bring articles of clothing for Haiti. A random child turning nine. And she’s offering not just to help but to sacrifice her own birthday gifts to help those in need. Think to when you were nine. I know I would not have been so altruistic. This is beyond inspirational, this is a legacy that we may be creating. Helping to instil in our future generations the sense of social responsibility and appreciation that we are part of a global family. The hope of a little girl to change the world, that’s inspiration.

But that’s the funny thing about inspiration. It’s constantly changing. It continually redefines itself and what it means to you. I’m always curious what it’ll be next. Where I’ll see it. What it’ll mean. Just recently our team has expanded within the province of Newfoundland with our first team from the West Coast now on the ground in Haiti. I once thought that having teams from across the country would be our ultimate goal.

But inspiration knows no borders.

I was offered to come and speak at the University of Massachusetts. The common goal of global healthcare and medical care for those who need it most, knows no boundaries. It was exciting to be speaking with specialists, surgeons, anesthesia, gynecologists, and medical students about how we can collaborate, how we can work together to make a sustainable difference. A humbling, inspiring event using the podium of U Mass to launch a Broken Earth chapter south of the border. To think of how far we have come. To have people from other countries, from celebrated institutions interested in what we are doing and how they can be involved, that is inspiring.

Lastly, inspiration often comes from unsung heroes. People like our sponsors. They are always there for us, always offering, always asking how to help.

Keith Bradbury, when approached for help, immediately assumed the cost of rooms for our recent trip to Nicaragua. Although we do our best to thank them, it is hard to give them the thanks they deserve. Whether it is M5 , Columbus, Rogers, Air Canada, Stryker, Zimmer, Depuy, the Lions Club or many, many more. From restaurants (Blue, Raymond’s, Mallard Cottage, Tavola, Get Stuffed, and many more) to entertainment (Alan Doyle, Great Big Sea, The Once, The Fortunate Ones, Cory Tetford and many more) we have been lucky. The people in the background often get overlooked, those who move the machine at home so we can function on the ground away (Nakita, Susan, Meghan, Mary, Allison and many more). Where do we find our inspiration? From the companies and individuals that make a difference and many more.

I set out to answer the simple question of inspiration and motivation. Turns out it is easier than I thought: inspiration is everywhere.

Best,

Andrew

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Posted by on November 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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