February 2014 Expedition (Guest Blog Post by Shelly VanB)

The following post was written by one of our volunteers on the February Expedition, we want to be able to share these trips through their eyes and words. Thank you to Shelly for allowing us to use this post. 


What Did You DO?


This trip to Ethiopia, for me was very different from other trips I’ve been involved in. We signed up as part of a Canadian Humanitarian Expedition which meant that we were travelling with an organization that has been working in Ethiopia for the past 10 years. The founders, Dr. Dick and Deb Northcott, have been travelling to Ethiopia over the past 21 years, since adopting two children from there.

Canadian Humanitarian is an organization that I wouldn’t hesitate to send people with. The trip was well organized, their local partners were amazing and did a great job of figuring out logistics with a large team of nurses, doctors, audiologists and construction workers all in the mix. Our guys were able to have supplies ready and available for the most part, and when they needed something extra, men like Bisrat and Ketema were able to take them to the best places to find what they needed and to get them back to the worksite in a timely fashion, which is no small feat in a congested city of millions.

Our role in this expedition was to refurbish a couple of the education support centres that were falling behind in maintenance and getting run down. Stick and mud constructed buildings with 70+ children coming through on a daily basis…imagine the wear and tear. The guys did a great job patching and putting in supports for doorways, filling holes and filing down doors that no longer would close due to the shifting foundations. My role in all of this was to make sure the guys had water when they needed it and to paint when they had finished patching and pasting.

One thing about working with guys like Ken and Wayne and Dan and Dave…they never felt they had done quite enough. They worked hard from the moment they got on site and would have continued to do so had we not literally cleaned up their tools from under them and sent them back to the vans at night. There was much work to be done but they took it on and did a really great job. It’s quite something to watch skilled workers look at something that has been left undone for so long, simply because it’s beyond what someone could figure out to repair, and just get it done, not just done, but with a pride of workmanship and skill that really stood out.

The funniest part about working in Ethiopia with these guys was some of the circumstances they found themselves working in. Like painting an entire, windowless room in the pitch black by headlamp because the power was out. Or, arriving to plaster and paint at a care centre that was preparing meals and a birthday party for over 70 kids on site. We laughed at that one, who would invite kids over for a birthday party and then decide to paint the room while it was going on? And yet, we got it done with minimal painting of children…and honestly, having the laughter and shouts of children in our ears reminded us exactly who we were working for.

It’s not often on a trip that I get home and am able to pinpoint a tangible contribution but on this trip, though my skills didn’t really come into play, I do want to just leave you with some photos of the work that these guys took on. The education support centres play an important role in the work that Canadian Humanitarian does in Ethiopia. Children are able to have a safe place, where they are equals, to come and play, get support with homework, have an adult to listen to them and help them with the struggles of their often difficult lives, and to get a nutritious meal every day. The guys on this team left these places better than they found them. Safe. Bright. Clean. Welcoming.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank again, those who donated supplies to our trip. There were several of you who just passed along a ten or a twenty dollar bill and we used that to buy paint and brushes. There were companies in our city who wish to remain anonymous, that donated all the tools for the work we did, and we left those in the hands of Canadian Humanitarian in Ethiopia for their future use. There were those Pier 1 girls, again, who just continue to be supportive and gather painting supplies or money or just write me a note to let me know they’re with me…I love that you’re with me when I go. Especially, a little friend of mine in California, who prays for me every day that I’m gone or as I’m preparing to leave…Sienna ~ you are changing lives already. You are such a great prayer buddy and I’m so thankful to know that when I’m travelling far from home, you’re thinking of me and praying for me. It means so much! You’re the best. Enjoy the photos….you’re all in every one.

Ken and Wayne reinforce the doorways at Kality Education Support Program in Addis Ababa
No saw horse or power tools but Wayne gets the job done.
Ketema and Ken cut in at Kersa Education SupportCentre
Diana, our Ugandan travelling buddy paints alongside us
Little ones around the education support centre in Kersa pitch in when possible
Dan finds his height an advantage at times, and at others….not so much
Painting at Kersa Education Support Centre
The Kersa Centre – this was a building left to Canadian Humanitarian by another NGO that left the area several years ago.
Ken and Dave being to repair the mud and stick built centre at Kality in Addis Ababa
The quarterly birthday party for kids at Kality EducationSupport Program that had birthdays in the past three months
Pineapple Fanta and Sprite make it a party!
The kids with birthdays sit at the place of honour and are treated to fruit, pop and cake!
Ken stabilizes while Wayne drills into the mud and stick doorframe
Some of the many tools donated for Canadian Humanitarian Ethiopia
More tools for Canadian Humanitarian Ethiopia
David patches plaster
Abenezer and Wayne provide the counterweight so Dan can saw wood
Green is the colour!
I’ve learned these things make construction guys very happy.
Finishing touches at Kality Education Support Program
The crew with the local education support program workers
The finished product!
The education support program staff were very appreciative and excited about the space.

Heroes of Hope 2014 – An Evening With Chris Hadfield

A couple of weeks ago, we had the privilege of spending an evening with an astronaut. Which astronaut? How about Col. Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the International Space Station – and a fellow Canadian!

Why was he taking the time to have dinner with  around 250 of his fans? Well, he came to support something bigger than even himself! He came to support Canadian Humanitarian!

Yes, this was a magnificent fund raiser for Canadian Humanitarian, organized by the Regina, Saskatchewan chapter, and sponsored by K+S Potash Canada. It is a yearly event, called “Heroes of Hope” and they always have fantastic guest speakers.

We arrived in Regina about an hour before the event to help get a few last minute preparations done. It was set up beautifully, and filled the large room at the Conexus Arts center.

Each table had these for the center pieces, which were also auctioned off. They included a variety of astronaut food (way cool) and a copy of Col. Chris Hadfield’s fantastic book, “An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth”.

 The event had a silent auction as a part of their fundraising efforts. There were SO MANY fantastic items for absolutely anyone and everyone, including sports memorabilia, purses and jewelry, paintings, and even framed artwork created by the children in the programs run by Canadian Humanitarian (more on that later.) 

Some of the wonderful items they had for their silent auction:

 This was only half of the silent auction display. Like I said – there were SO MANY wonderful and unique items to bid on.

 

 There were other excited individuals in attendance who were anxious to hear from ,and meet, their hero! This fine looking group of cadets were looking sharp and happy to be there!

Lots of wonderful people came out to support the event!

  

Canadian Humanitarian’s Heather Woodward and  her husband, Lyle, manning the child sponsorship table. There are a lot of children in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Malawi who need sponsorship so they can benefit from the wonderful programs run by Canadian Humanitarian in their communities.

 There was a lot of media buzz around the event, and different tv stations there to interview Col. Chris Hadfield.

 A lot of people took their time browsing through the silent auction items, placing their bids on their favorite items!

  Some interested folks asking about child sponsorship:

 

 

 

  Lots of posters displaying kids in Africa who can see their dreams realized through the help that Canadian Humanitarian offers !

 

 

  We had the wonderful Sheila Coles, host of the CBC Morning Edition in Saskatchewan, not only sit at our table with us, but was a wonderful emcee for the evening.

There was a great turn out for the event!

 As part of the fundraiser, the Regina Public and Catholic School Districts held a rocket – designing contest where children would design, build, and launch a rocket. The four winners who built the best rockets won a limo ride to the event and sat at the same table as Chris Hadfield, who enjoyed dinner with them after his speech. These were a couple of the winning students:

 

Our Executive Director, Lyndon Grunewald, spoke about the wonderful work that Canadian Humanitarian is doing and garnered even more interest and support for the charity, sharing stories from his experiences during his recent trip to Ethiopia in February and March.

 

 We will be sharing a post shortly, sharing more details about the amazing experiences we had on our recent expedition to Ethiopia – amazing! But now, back to the fundraiser and Chris Hadfield!

 It was time for Chris Hadfield to speak to us, and he did not disappoint! He shared his experiences from when, as a child, he watched the first moon landing, to his (bumpy) landing after his last mission as commander of the International Space Station – with so much in between. It was a fabulous presentation.

 He was a very engaging speaker and a wonderful story teller!

 

 His presentation also included stunning photos that he took from the space station, as well as photos that illustrated his journey as an astronaut.

He even serenaded us with his song, I.S.S.:

Chris Hadfield also tirelessly made himself available to each and every one in attendance who wanted to meet him personally. These Cadets were beside themselves with excitement to shake his hand and meet him.

 

 

 

It was a wonderful evening; one that anyone who was there would love to be able to do again. Canadian Humanitarian has similar events in chapters all across Canada (and some starting in the States through Kids Hope Ehtiopia) that you can get involved with any time.

(All photos of this event are courtesy of Bobbi-Jo Grunewald Photography who donated her time, talent, and photos for this event.)

 

The Self Esteem Class

One of our team members taught a fun class about self esteem.  The children and youth had the chance to hear a story that emphasized how everyone is unique and has something special about them. Then students had a chance to receive a journal to make goals on new skills things they would like to learn, and create a piece of artwork that represented themselves.
Oct2013.Self.Esteem

Drip Irrigation Team

To help family gardens and the market garden in Gindo, this group brought materials to construct this simple irrigation system. During the dry season, rivers and creeks dry up.  Wells become the source of water for gardens and fields meaning children and women haul water for this as well as their personal needs.
Drip irrigation slowly waters individual plants all day long from a water source. Gravity feeds the water through the hoses to individual plants. The barrel holding the water needs only be filled once a day, and then waters each plant during the day.
  The farmers, gardeners, and families who received these systems were thrilled with the prospect of reduced time, effort and water needed to help their gardens produce!

Oct2013.Drip.Irrigation

The Health Class

Our two nurses taught the students about how germs and viruses are spread, and ways they can protect themselves from getting infected. They played a game that taught this concept – germs were picked up as you moved along the board when petting a goat, coughed, or shook hands.
  But if you stopped in-between and washed your hands, then the germs pieces you had collected were all given away. The object of the game was to get to the end with NO germ pieces.  The kids really enjoyed this!

The Film Crew

This group was honoured to have with us a filming crew to record some of our activities and document what Canadian Humanitarian does.  It is our hope that the finished product will be on TV at some time in the spring in 2014. When we hear firm dates, we will be sure to let you know.

Oct2013.Film.Crew

We so enjoyed having Rick and Kevin as part of our group. When they were not filming, they pitched in to help wherever they could!

The Medical Team

October’s group had 5 doctors, 2 nurses, and 1 pharmacist in our midst. We completed medicals on the children at Gindo, on children of the Kirkos center, on children at the Kality Center, and on some of the children who needed follow up at the Guelele center.

Oct2013Medicals1
We again went to the Kersa area, to do intake medicals on the youth and children in this new program, as well as medicals for the Foresight Fathers and their families.

Oct2013Medicals2
Over all we managed to complete 386 medical examinations, many of which required prescribed medicines!  Sometimes our surroundings were quite simple or primitive, but the care received was very appreciated!

The Fitness Team

Two of our team members brought a Fitness program, and relay race for the students to learn and participate in.  This was modified depending on the age of the group. Kids and staff had a great time learning to do sit ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, mountain climbing, and others techniques using yoga balls and chairs.

Oct2013.FitnessC
The group left behind a set of yoga balls, exercise instructions, mats so that the youth and children could continue to practice.

Off we go again!

Oct2013
What do you get when you take 25 total strangers who are doctors, nurses, teachers, agronomists, economists or financial experts and put them together for 15 days?  The October 2013 expedition to Ethiopia!
  
It is always amazing to watch strangers become friends, as they work together to serve others.

Check out our other blog posts to find out about all the wonderful work our expedition teams worked on:

The Sewing Team
The Drip Irrigation Team
The Medical Team
The Fitness Team
Self Esteem Class
The Health Class 
Home Visits 
Film Crew

Home Visits

Volunteers had the opportunity to visit some of the homes of the students of Gindo Town. Home visits honour the guardians of the children. The team was able to thank the guardians for all they do to support their child in school, and attending education sessions at the after school center. The students had the opportunity to host volunteers in their home.  It was a memorable experience for everyone.

Oct2013.HomeVisits

Beyond Belief 2013

This year our Dinner and Silent Auction will be held Nov 13, 2013, at Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat.

Tickets are $100 each, or $800 for a table.

ticket sales are now closed

Our keynote speaker for the evening is Frank O’Dea.

As a young man, Frank O’Dea was a homeless person, living on the streets, panhandling for nickels and dimes. Today, he is a celebrated business person. Best known as a founder of The Second Cup, he also was involved in founding a number of other successful international businesses and not-for-profits. These include Proshred Security, War Child Canada, Street Kids International and the Canadian Landmine Foundation. He has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and two Canadian universities have awarded him honorary degrees. This is an inspiring story of resilience and triumph in the face of adversity, which is also recounted in his best-selling book “When All You Have is Hope”. He is also the author of Do-the-Next-Right-Thing: Surving Life’s Crises. Mr. O’Dea’s most recent projects include developing sustainably affordable housing in Sao Paulo. To find out more about Frank O’Dea, you can visit his website www.frankodea.com

Hope for Tomorrow 2013

4th Annual Hope For Tomorrow: Dinner and Auction

with special guest
Dr. James Orbinsk

Event Details:
The Westin Calgary
November 20, 2013
Reception: 5:30
Ethiopian Fusion Meal: 6:30
Dr. Orbinski: 8:00
Tickets: $200 each Table of 8 $1,300

ticket sales now closed

Hope For Tomorrow is an annual event bringing the best of Canada’s international development practitioners to Calgary to address its business community. In 2013 our event is focused on Canadian Humanitarian’s Kid’s Hope Kirkos Center in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.

Kid’s Hope Kirkos:
Canadian Humanitarian’s Kid’s Hope Center focuses on 50 orphaned and vulnerable children, their foster families in the neighbourhood of Kirkos. This programs is focused on orphaned and vulnerable children and assisting them in reaching their potential through education and acting as a launch pad for their education, social and physical development. Provision of tuition, school uniforms and materials, after school tutoring, student run clubs, a hot meal every day and access to health care all serve as catalysts to ensure the children succeed. Our Kid’s Hope Centers also serve as a meeting point for guardians to learn skills, and receive support and training. In Kid’s Hope programs children and families are receiving hope!

James Orbinski Bio:
DR. JAMES ORBINSKI – Humanitarian Advocate and Past President of Doctors Without Borders

Dr. Orbinski is a globally recognized humanitarian practitioner and advocate, as well as one of the world’s leading scholars and scientists in global health. He believes in humanitarianism, in citizenship and in actively engaging and shaping the world in which we live, so that it is more humane, fair and just.

After extensive field experience with Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Dr. Orbinski was elected MSF’s international president from 1998 to 2001. He launched its Access to Essential Medicines Campaign in 1999, and in that same year accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to MSF for its pioneering approach to medical humanitarianism, and most especially for its approach to witnessing.

Dr. Orbinski worked as MSF’s Head of Mission in Goma, Zaire in 1996 -97 during the refugee crisis. He was MSF’s Head of Mission in Kigali during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and MSF’s medical co-ordinator in Jalalabad, Afghanistan in the winter of 1994. He was MSF’s medical co-ordinator in Baidoa, Somalia during the civil war and famine of 1992-1993. Dr. Orbinski’s first MSF mission was in Peru in 1992.

For his leadership in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, Dr. Orbinski was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross, Canada’s highest civilian award. This citation reads:

“Chief of Mission to Rwanda with Medecins sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders during the Civil War and genocide from April to July 1994, Dr. Orbinski provided an extraordinary service by delivering medical assistance and alleviating the suffering of victims, on both sides of the front line. Unwavering in his efforts, Dr. Orbinski opened the Agha Khan (King Fayed) Hospital in Kigali, in the middle of a contested area that often became the target of mortar and machine gun fire. Through example, he provided inspirational leadership to a multinational team of medical staff and managed to spur their flagging spirits through the bleakest days of the genocide.”

As international president of MSF, Dr. Orbinski represented the organization in numerous humanitarian emergencies and on critical humanitarian issues in among others, the Sudan, Kosovo, Russia, Cambodia, South Africa, India and Thailand. He has also represented MSF at the UN Security Council, in many national parliaments, and to for example, the WHO, and the UNHCR.

Hugs to all!

The kids at Kality are range in age from 4 – 7 years old, and they are just aching for someone to hug and play with them. Dr. Northcott got his chance to play with the kids too— they lined up and were taking running leaps at him, he would catch them, hug them, and then put them down. They loved it! What a great way to end our trip!

Kality May2013

The Gindo Center

We spent two days working on clean up of construction residue at the Gindo Center! Paint off windows, and door handles, extra grout off tile floors, paint from around the clean up area, and then cleaned up the whole central hall area.

2013.May.GindoCleaning We even washed down the tables and chairs from the kids’ dining hall.  It looked BEAUTIFUL when we were done!

Eyerus and Senait

We had the honor of bringing two of our students who are studying medicine (one in nursing college, the other studying to be a health officer) to join us for these three days to learn alongside Dr. Northcott, and to work together as a practicum experience.

They did intake medicals, Susan taught them how to take blood pressure, and learned the technique of medical examination these past two days. As Eyerus said in our discussion at suppertime – “It was a perfect day”.

2013.May.Eyerus

One of the neatest things about this trip is to be working alongside some of the kids we took into the program years ago, now working with us to provide services to the new kids. As we watch the first generation of graduates enter into the workforce and into professional schools, we feel that all the effort has been worth while. These children have permanently broken the cycle of poverty. I asked Eyrusalem, who is in Health Officer training, what would have happened to her if this program had not been there. Would she be in Health Officer training? “Oh no,” she said, “I would be working as a cleaner or a server.” Imagine the tragedy of having this bright mind working as a cleaner, never able to reach her potential! It is good to be here.

Dr. Northcott

The Tanners come to visit

Ron and Martha Tanner, who have volunteered on a long term basis at our Education Support Centers in the past, now live in Ethiopia, only 30 minutes away from where we were today in Sheshamene.
So they came and joined us for a time. It was great to see them!
Ron- as usual kept the crowds begging for more of his magic tricks. They absolutely love seeing him making a hankie disappear!

2013.May.RTanner

Installing the Bio Sand Filtration Systems

The Men and their wives were pretty excited to see the Bio Sand Filtration Units come together. I think they finally started to understand how the filter would purify their water as it ran through these buckets.

2013.May.Filters
Today two of these units were installed to two homes. This first home was a 22 year old man, one of the Foresight Fathers, who has 5 children and two wives (yes polygamy is still practiced in this part of Ethiopia)

2013.May.FirstHouse
This home was on a quiet street in the village with lots of trees, their own backyard garden, stock holding pen and everything! 2013.May.House

The Medical Clinic

We have spent the last two days doing medical, English skill building, art, and bio sand filters in Turge and Kersa Ayele.

2013.May.Officeoutside
This has been Dr. Northcott’s medical clinic. it has two rooms, shade, and walls that are wooden slats so the breeze can blow through. Since it has been about 28 C each day and a bit humid.. this has been the best place to be to work!

2013.May.Officeinside  

Visiting the Foresight Fathers Compound

We visited the Foresight Fathers compound in Kersa; to say hello to the program managers, and to see their new education center.

2013.May.FFBuilding
Adults were receiving a training session under the warka tree.

2013.May.WarkaTree
The youth group was busy making seedling plantings of coffee bushes… they hope to raise a crop of coffee this year and earn about $40,000 Birr profit in 2014 from their efforts.

2013.May.Coffee

Getting Started!

The group arrived a little ahead, and had already spent some time getting supplies ready and organized. Monday when Deborah and Dr. Northcott arrived, some of the program had already begun!

2013.May.Backpacks
Here they have packed up the beautiful backpacks given to Canadian Humanitarian to give to students.
They visited the Kirkos Education Support Center to complete the art program and give the students their own backpacks.  

Regina Nurses Fundraising Dinner

A group of nurses from Regina, SK are hosting a Fundraising Dinner, with Ethiopian Cuisine, a Silent Acution, 50/50 and raffles.

May 4, 2013
Dinner: 6:30-8:30
Entertainment: 8:00

Selam Ethiopian Restaurant
2115 S Broad Street, Regina

Tickets are available at the Selam Restaurant, at Regina General Hospital 3E, or email us to purchase your tickets.

ticket sales now closed