Monday, March 30, 2009

Ah, it's summer time.

Sometimes I really dislike living in Atlantic Canada, like when it snows during the last week of March. It was so close to being spring!!! So close. From Birkenstocks and long sleeve t's  to Long johns and hats that mess up your hair. Great start to a week. 

Hopefully the rain forecasted for the weekend will help spring along, and take the snow with it. 

Mountie Music Shout-Out

I forgot to mention the other great performances from the ASCARs in my last post, so I thought I would give you guys the links to Kellen Barrett, Corey Isenor and Pat LePoidevin won the Best Solo Artist or Band of the year award jointly, as three solo artists. Individually, they are pretty amazing and talented musicians and songwriters. If you're broke, and need a birthday gift for someone, Corey's song, "Birthday" is perfect. Saves on postage stamps too :) Also, the way Pat performs, with the looping, is pretty amazing, especially to see live. 

I wish Sarah-Beth had her myspace page set up, but alas she doesn't, I accosted her about it today. 

So here is a sample of what each of the guys has to offer, enjoy! 

George the Polar Bear

Sunday, March 29, 2009

End of Term Busyness!

Things are winding down for the term, the weather is starting to get nicer (we've got lows in the Positives more now than Negatives!) and of course the stress is starting to pile up. Exams start in a few weeks, my are all between the 15th and the 21st of April. I have several papers and drafts due this week and next, and a lot of reading to try and get through before the end of term. 

This weekend was also pretty busy, with the ASCAR Awards on friday night, where I was the Voice-Over with my friend, and soon-to-be graduate Claire Kelly. There was an After Party, and the After After Party, which made for an interesting night/morning. It was pretty fun night all around, especially the performances. Sarah-Beth Harrison was one that shocked me, I mean I've heard her perform before, but it has always been in the pub or a noisy venue. I was really happy that she got to perform in Con Hall, and everyone could actually  hear her, and hear how amazing she is! I wish she had a myspace, or some of her solo performances on Youtube. Instead, I've decided to leave you with the Decemberist's The Crane Wife, pt. III, by recommendation of a friend. Enjoy and I hope you have a great start to the week!  

Back to Bagtown; stress and studies


It has been a busy couple of weeks getting settled back into life in Bagtown. Honduras was amazing. I'm not sure how much I mentioned about it before I went down, but I will give you guys a brief recap of what I was doing, the organization I went with, and what it is like being back in Canada after such an amazing trip, and trying to settle back into school.

I went to Honduras with a group of almost 35 Mount Allison Students, and 12 Medical Professionals. We went down with the Global Brigades Organization,  an organization that coordinates volunteer groups from Universities across the US, and now Canada for various projects, such as Medical, Dental, and Public Health. 

It was a rough trip, we left Halifax several hours late, an "air traffic" issue we were told. Since we left Halifax later than expected, when we go to Newark, to catch our connection to Houston, they had closed to gate 5 minutes before we landed. We ended up missing the flight, they wouldn't open the door for almost 40 people, almost half of the flight. It was an annoying start to the trip, and especially annoying after close to 40 hours without sleep. 

After a lot of argument with Continental, our wretched airline, we ended up in Houston, but that would be our last stop for the day. We stayed at a hotel for the evening, hung around Houston for the day, and finally left for San Pedro Sula, Honduras that evening. The travel issues we had weren't the most prominent of my memories, but it was a rough start to an amazing trip. 

Once we got there, we traveled for close to 9 hours, from the Airport in San Pedro Sula, to a pee stop about 3 1/2 or 4 hours away (it was a rough ride too, so we all needed it a good hour before we got there) , to Tegucigalpa, the capital city and the location of Global Brigade's headquarters. After lunch in Tegus, we kept on going to Nuevo Paraiso. 

After a quick tour of the compound, the clinic, and the rest of the facilities, we settled in just before supper. Our first night was pretty hectic. We had to unpack all of our medication, supplies, and donations. We separated everything Dental and Medical, and divided what could be used for both. When we were unpacking, we had to divide medications into 30 day doses, label with directions (in spanish) and then organize it into our little pharmacy. 

Everyday, our group split into two brigades, the Public Health, and the Medical/Dental Brigade. For the first day, I was with the Public Health Brigade. We went to a small community, an hour and a half away from Nuevo Paraiso, and we were working in and around homes of people who needed things like, Sanitary Latrines with sealed Septic tanks, Safe water storage units (called a Pila), cement floors where they only had dirt floors, and properly ventilated, and more efficient wood-burning stoves. The rationale behind the Public Health Brigades comes from the Medical and Dental Brigades, the projects help prevent the problems we saw with almost every single person we saw in the Medical Clinics. I have never really done much by way of construction or manual labour, so this was quite an experience. Mixing cement on the ground, with a shovel, and a bucket of water, is a lot harder than you'd expect. I think I was still in a state of shock during the first few days of the trip, the overwhelming amount of poverty and the amount of culture shock really shook me. 

When the second day rolled around, I was on the Medical/Dental brigades for the rest of the trip. I spent most of my time in the Dental Bus during the 2nd day, with Dr. Stymiest, Kerrie, Dr. Chandra and the Cuban Dentist. Kavish, Tarek, Brent and I got to observe and do intake on the bus. One of us would be sterilizing the dental tools, another would be assisting Dr. Chandra  (don't worry, we were just handing him instruments) and Dr. Stymiest, and the other 2 would be translating and doing intake in the front of the bus. This bus was literally a school bus. It had 2 dental stations built into the back, and 4 rows of seats in the front, which we used as a storage and waiting area. If I were more science oriented, I would have strongly considered looking into dentistry as a career after this experience. 

The Medical Brigade aspect of our trip was the largest part. We had all of our Medical Professionals set up in several areas, some doing intake/Triage, with others working more in their speciality. Every Medical Professional had a student translator with them, and those of us who's spanish was, well, less than proficient, worked more often in the Pharmacy. I really did enjoy working in the Pharmacy, most times we were set up in a classrooms. We walked in to the class room for the 3rd day, and it was obvious it was a science class, with the charts and diagrams mounted on the walls. The really amazing thing was, they were all hand-drawn, every single one of them. There was everything from the Periodic Table, Skeletal, muscular, and organ diagrams, to the structure of a Neuron, and again, all of them were hand drawn! 

Though the primary function of the pharmacy was to hand out prescriptions and vitamins, we also used it as a way to distribute the donations we brought with us. We would look at the age of the patient when we received their patient form/prescription and would pick out a toy, or some clothes depending on their age. One of the things I wish we had brought more of was glasses. We had several pairs with us, but not as many as we could have given out. The very first person we saw on the 3rd day was an older woman who's form said she had difficulty seeing signs and reading, so we thought we'd try out a pair or two with her. We gave her one pair, didn't do much, the 2nd pair, again, not so great. When she put on the 3rd pair, her eyes lit up. She looked at the sheet of paper I was holding, she could read it, she looked at the sign down the street, she could read it. It was pretty cool, an amazing start to the day. 

Those are only a few of the many amazing experiences that I had while we were in Honduras, there are so many to talk about, but so many that are really difficult to talk about. I thought you guys would enjoy a little glimpse of what we were doing. 

It has been difficult to get back into the swing of things with school. There was a short time after the trip that I would say I was really sad, having left a place with so much poverty, a place where there is so much that should be done, that needs to be done. It is weird to try and explain it. 

I was also unfortunate enough to have experienced some post-Honduras health issues. I was really not feeling too well for about 2 weeks after we got back, and still have some days when I don't know if it is just me not feeling well, or if it is something to do with the trip. Fortunately, I've got some prof's who've spent a lot of time in Central and South America, so they were pretty sympathetic when it came to certain things. 

I'll give you guys another update at some point this week. Things are just about to go crazy, with a lot of receptions, dinners, banquets, and end of year things coming up just before exams, and while term papers are due. 

Until then! 

Monday, March 16, 2009

What ever happened to your imaginary friend? 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Back from Latin America!

Hey! Sorry I didn't mention that I'd be away for a while in my last post!

I just got back from Honduras on Saturday. There is so much to say about it, but at the same time it is all so hard to describe. It really put a face, and a name to so many of the statistics that we've studied and read about. I will post more about it later this week. I have a ton of school work to catch up on, and several mid terms later on this week that I need to cram for. 

Check back in a few days for more info about the trip, until then enjoy the pictures I've posted below. 


Monday, March 2, 2009

Honduras 2009

After we were done with the Clinics, we played soccer with the local kids. 

3rd Grade Classroom
The school we used for Day 3
Working the Pharmacy- Day 3

Hand Drawn and coloured Periodic Table 

Hand drawn charts in the Science Class we put the Pharmacy in. 

The cake GMB Made for us...
When the surprised us with this! 

Day 2-Medical & Dental Groups

El Pharmacy 
Dental Bus Action!
Post rural-bathroom experience. 

The school we set up the clinic in on Day 2.

Public Health Brigade - Day One
The House we were working in.
What our Latrines should look like at the end of the day. 
Laying the Foundation.
This is the little boy, Garvin, who lived with his parents in the house we were working in.
He didn't like taking pictures, but smiled when he saw them!
Mixing concrete and Mortar is not the easiest thing to do. 
The neighbours..
The group at the bottom of the hill, the other half of the group was working up the hill.  
One of the houses in the Orphanage. 

The Dental Bus! 
Yayy! Canadian Flag! This was up before we got there. 
In Tegucigalpa
First views of rural Honduras.