My First and Last Thought - Gratitude
I guess "Gratitude" is a feeling more than a thought or even an attitude. I just know that is what I feel as I remember my Guyana time this year. I wish I had a more complicated or sophisticated remembrance... I really do have many others:
Frustration - that I can never seem to accomplish as much as I want or thought that I could do in September;
Amazement - with the energy, drive, persistence, creativity [including all their unique excuses] of "my" beginning nursing students;
Double Admiration - for my colleagues on the nursing faculty. I get lots of thanks for coming so far... I do like the recognition... AND I am humbled in the presence of my "teammates" who are really in the starting lineup everyday - Elsie, Candy, Roberta, Tracy and Yolanda. [There are part-timers whom I admire and would name if I thought I could name them all.]
Pride - At first, I was congratulating myself for being "Mercy's Executive Volunteer" now for over 16 years... And then the truth hit me! By myself, I'd never have lasted. I have never gone alone though I have stayed there alone.
My wife, Anne, has traveled with me ever time - though she has mostly found ways to avoid the mosquitos, the heat and the humidity. Her traveling is done on another continent by enduring my neurotic needs for adventure and meaning and an almost total denial of my aging, when it would be her choice for me to be beside her. And she does it with love.
My larger family with our children and their children and well, not yet any children's children. They miss me when they aren't doing their own lives - that is how it should be. They do support my adventures, especially distracting Anne with their activities and achievements. And they do it with love.
My friends and supporters, who offer me encouragement with their words and donations [of course]. It is not the cash... it is what it means and I see that meaning every day I am in Guyana. I see:
- tiled floors in the classrooms
- classrooms that were raised a foot to stop the flooding rains from stopping classes,
- movable desks and chairs for both classrooms to accommodate small learning groups, not mentioning more comfortable on their butts.
- retracting, solid room divider to have a partition between the classes,
- and every student with a tablet to do their homework, research and yes, social media.
My fellow North American volunteers, those who have come down to work with me on PBL, I have undying admiration. I started adding an interesting comment to every name; however, I realized that they are still alive! So: Tony Carr, Dennis LeBlanc, Sylvia Wilvert, Emily Flynn, Charlie Malcolmson and Cathery Lee, Andrew Alan, Beverly Clark, Marysia Donnelly and like the blanket statement in confession, "for these and all my other
My Guyanese volunteers like, Derry Harry, Sandra LaRose, Ricky Chan who were faithful small group tutors. This year we had more need for volunteers and some old students, now professional RN's signed up, and came in on their days off, for facilitating small groups all term - Vikram Suklal, Ginelle Williams, Tiffany Scott, Jon Daly, Mowava Rodwell, Lovey Lamont and even Ariel Williams. There were others for previous years who we conscripted... who know who you are better than this old man's memory. And they do it with love.
My Guyanese friends who support me in so many ways and are more like family. My brother of a different mother, Bhiro Harry, who from the time he picked me up at the airport to the time he left me off there... he offers me physical - well, he likes beer , emotional and spiritual kindnesses. My son-like friend, Taju Olaleye and his family Allison, Tommy and Althea - now a nursing student. He is my importer - tablets, books, printers... all arrive quickly and safe. He was also the Maitre'd for many of my visitors and friends at The Princess. And then there is my personal banker, Michael Ram. I can give him a cheque, and instead of waiting for the 30-60 day wait to clear a foreign check,
it is in my ATM account right away. This is an enormous gift as anyone who knows my financial skills will attest. As well, he lets me borrow an Lutheran Church in Guyana cell phone. And they do it with love.
[Wow, this is getting longer than my planned introduction.]
My 2017 class of nursing students. They are the reason that I come down every year. I love to see how they struggle with new ideas and learn what they mean for their living. They are certainly not saints, yet they are inspiring for me and I want to offer them my best because they are truly "grateful" for what I do, even if I am a little sarcastic or their exam marks are less than they expected... And they do it with love.
Finally, I am thankful to Everyone! Yes, a little over the top and still true. Almost all the staff at Mercy go out of their way to answer all my requests; this especially includes Maintenance, Dietary, Laundry, Information Technology and Administration, especially Debbie Ramsey and Helen Browman. My "old" students greet me warmly coming and going to work, in the hallways, on the street... I do feel that I belong there by each kindness. And they do it with love.
Basta! Enough! I have left out great and important stuff, especially in the area of Psychiatry and mental health. Okay so I lied again. I want to write about my involvement with psychiatry there with Tony Carr, Peter Kuhnert and Shrenik Parekh. I guess if I write it in January 20128, then this post will be my last for 2017!
Before I left, I asked several overlooked departments if they could tell me one thing that I could give to them that would improve their working lives at Mercy. Of course, I was hoping that your would assist me in doing this. So if you can, consider providing these and you can share my feeling of gratitude.
Housekeeping - They needed a big fan for their office in order to keep their new computer from overheating. To show that I try and walk the talk... Anne and I brought them the fan.
Laundry - Must be the year of the fan as Laundry wanted a fan too, but more powerful. Believe me it is the hottest place in the whole hospital. I know that the fan costs @ $100. Cdn
Dietary - They must be the most Guyanese as I am still waiting for their request.
Maintenance - "Keith, I said one!" He must think you are really going to be grateful. He wrote, "Please see list below of tools needed for the Maintenance Department."
I and they will appreciate what you can give. Every little thing makes a big difference there.
Till next year. Thanks for reading with me this year. John