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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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Nepal Journal: failure is not something I am willing to accept.

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

I’m in a car on the way to the Prime Ministers’ Residence.

I look out the window and consider everything that has happened so far. What started as a scouting mission for long term opportunities to help has become so much more. Many people are excited for the possibility of a collaborative project with Team Broken Earth. I think back to the key people that have taken me this far and have shown me so much of this impressive country. They’re the reason I’m on the way to meet with Prateek Pradhan, the Prime Minister’s chief press advisor.

This Harvard educated man speaks perfect English and we chat about the similarities between Boston and Newfoundland. We talk about St. Paddy’s Day and he lets me know that there is Guinness in Nepal and tells me where I can find some. In the course of our conversation, we have a candid discussion about the need for medical help. There is still a need for medical relief work in the country, he tells me, but it needs to able to reach the remote villages. We also talk about INGOs, aid and charity; topics which I’ve found to be challenging as I seek to reconcile good intentions with actual results. I’ve seen many well intentioned people and NGOs fail in Nepal and if Team Broken Earth is coming here for a long term project, failure is not something I am willing to accept.

I ask him what, in his opinion, is key to an NGO succeeding in Nepal? He tells me that the most important principles from the governments’ point of view are:

  • Local Support
  • Low administrative cost
  • Concentration and focus of aid

This all seems like common sense, but you may be surprised to learn that Nepal has over 40 000 NGOs and INGOs together. Many have been in the country since the 50’s and 60’s. If you are wondering how the country has so many NGOs and yet it seems like nothing is moving forward, then please know you’re not the only one pondering that. But I can’t solve the complex interrelationships, I am only concerned about whether Team Broken Earth can help and do so safely in country.

In many ways Nepal could be a growth point for our organization. Physical safety is all but assured from the people and the government; even at night, I feel pretty safe here. When we took a helicopter to a small village in the Sindu Palchuk district, I was amazed at how grateful people were for our mere presence. Even though they didn’t have enough food to eat they offered us lunch. The village was devastated by the earthquake, and it was clear that some villagers needed urgent medical attention, and probably had needed that attention at least a week ago.

After the interview with Mr. Pradhan is over, he thanks me for coming to this country and says that he wishes our organization the best of luck in establishing ourselves in Nepal. “The people of this country are grateful that the world cares for us” he tells me genuinely.

And in the end- isn’t that all we can ask for?

-Dr. N Joshi

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Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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