Here’s a summary of our project history. Click the points on the map for details, or scroll past the map to see the details below.
This was the first time we volunteered with a formal non-governmental organization. Sarah worked alongside the local nurse who was the only healthcare provider for the four villages supported by La-Esperanza. She also successfully implemented a records-keeping program which accumulated heath details on every school-aged child within the service area. Brett was part of the English teaching team and also initiated a physiotherapy program for a boy with cerebral palsy. Upon return to Canada, we hosted an event to raise awareness for the people of Nicaragua and collected $5,500 to be donated directly to La-Esperanza Granada.
This was our first independently launched initiative. While living with a local family in Haiti, we hosted CPR and health awareness classes for a group of new mothers and also delivered first-aid training to men working within the community. As the disastrous earthquake occurred less than a month later, we could only hope that the knowledge shared resulted in an ability for the students to positively assist others. In November 2011 we were part of a team who hosted an event to raise awareness of the ongoing needs of the Haitian population while collecting $14,000 for the family and community in which we lived.
While studying Spanish in the Andes we encountered an organization named Arte Del Mundo (“Art of the World”) which built a communal library and ran after-school programs for local children and youth. Along with interacting with the children we hosted a CPR/First-Aid class for the organization’s volunteers as well as local adventure sport guides. We also engaged in training sessions with the Ecuadorian Red Cross. Throughout our stay we were able to financially support a major event organized by Arte Del Mundo which was delivered to the community as a whole.
Here in the amazon region of Peru, in cooperation with local educators and health providers, we conceptualized a health promotion initiative which delivered education surrounding hand washing, teeth brushing, sexual health, and First-Aid/CPR training. We were able to deliver a session to every student and staff within the education system and were the first people to talk openly about sexual health in the history of the town. Upon our departure we were able to leave a financial donation offered by individuals in Canada, which ultimately funded volleyball nets and soap dispensers for the school.
This was the first time we engaged in a volunteer mission as part of a delegation which, along with ourselves, included four other nurses, a physician, and a pastor. As part of the healthcare team, we participated in a series of child health checks aimed at identifying specific needs within the population. These needs were then communicated to a group of local community action volunteers, who were responsible for disseminating follow-up health information. We also lead an information session on the technique of abdominal thrusts to counteract an incident of choking. These are only a few activities completed within our visit; however we felt that the relationships we were able to build were the most important aspects of the trip.
Dharmashala is the summer home of the Dalai Lama. It attracts a large population of Tibetan refugees who have escaped persecution by the Chinese government. While here, Brett taught an English class and participated in conversation groups with people of varying English proficiency, all having their own reasons for learning the language. Some wanted to tell the world what was happening in their home land, some wanted to translate Buddhist teachings, and others simply required some way to communicate with the local Indian population. Dharmashala also happens to be the same place where the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Institute is located, which is where Sarah studied the foundations of yoga therapy.
Although we did not work directly with Yego Rwanda, we did have an opportunity to meet with local survivors of the 1994 Genocide and listen to their experiences. This single event was the driving force behind our acceptance as the chair of fundraising on the board of directors for a support group in Canada called Yego Edmonton. We worked with Yego Edmonton over the course of six years, during which we successfully raised $16, 000 to support ongoing projects in Rwanda.
During the course of our travels, we were able to establish a partnership between School of H.E.A.R.T. and ACT-TESOL, an organization delivering accredited instruction to individuals wanting to teach English internationally. Graduates of the ACT-TESOL course are able to finance their travels while gaining valuable work experience as teachers all around the world.
While living in Goa, India, we worked with an international team of workers and volunteers to plan and develop the infrastructure for a globally sanctioned martial arts event. The event’s aim was to support the continuation of empowerment of women and children in the community. Throughout the project, Brett acted as the project manager, overseeing various task groups while an entire martial arts arena was built in a few short weeks. He also directed the medical team in charge of participant care, and conducted fitness and motivational sessions for the group of culturally diverse participants.