Saturday, August 6, 2016

Looking Forward ... with Thanks

As Always, I can't do this without you

The trouble with a routine is that it is a routine.  I think this is my 14th trip to St Joseph Mercy Hospital, School of Nursing.   That means for thirteen years, I have been asking my family and friends to assist my -play- work there with their financial support.   I have half facetiously told the companies from whom I was purchasing the tablets and cases, " I really need a big discount because I am running out of friends."

What actually amazes me is that isn't true.   My family and friends have contributed enough money so that almost all of the first-year students can have a good Acer 8" Iconia tablet in order to do well in the Problem-Based Learning Course.   [I was going to say MY PBL Course; however, I will be the assistant this year.]   I have had to purchase better-made tablets as the heat and humidity really destroy the cheaper ones.   I have told my readers this before:  The students are extremely grateful for these tablets as it is beyond their and their family finances.  They also say that I yell at them less because they can get their research done.     Thank you for your continued support for my students and my girls at st Ann's.

Of course, I would love your future support for my next year's trip in 2017.     While I have two anonymous supporters who have made significant donations every year, I need every donor no matter how small your contribution.   There is a Guyanese Proverb, "Whan dutty, whan dutty, ah bill dam.  One brick at a time builds a dam.   In fact, it is really the only way to get anything built.  I am grateful.  Thanks.

Going Solo This Year

This year for the first time in years I will not have anther volunteers joining me.   My colleague, Dennis LeBlanc, cannot make it because of many family commitments, including the marriage of their daughter, Emily.   I'll miss his support and friendship.   And Emily Flynn, my pediatrician niece, has moved on to a Global Health Fellowship Program at the University of Massachusetts.   So until January she is an Attending in a Pediatric Clinic and Emergency Room at the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worster. [I think.]  In April, she will go to Liberia, Africa for six months and work in a really underserviced area.  Then, she will do it again for the second year.    And by the way, she returned for a second time to Guyana  in June with the Bridges Medical Mission and teaching Helping Babies Breathe Courses in Bartica, Kwakwani, Linden and Georgetown.

If you are looking for some last minute excitement... and want to spend 3 or more weeks in a Caribbean Country where the students say thank you; you get a free room with a breeze [read:no airconditioning]; catered dining - sort of; and my scintillating conversation and snoring.   I am looking for someone who loves to question and us open to ideas.  No nursing background is required. There is some evidence that the stupider the tutor the brighter the students get; I think that is why I have done so well.   You pay travel, insurances, extras - like restaurants, souvenirs, local travel and half my beer tab.   If you have read this far, feel free to contact me.    

PBL and Something Different For Sure

It has been quite a few years since Tony Carr and I developed and taught our first PBL Class.  And in those "quite a few years", I have gotten almost as old as Tony.   Some of my friends and family keep saying to me... "You can't do this forever."   As Denial has been my major coping mechanism over the years... "forever" is not now.   I do experience my body slowing down with more aches, especially in my knees, so...

I am going to try and be the Assistant and a local faculty member will be the Supreme Poobah.   Actually, she is an "old" student [2009].  I think she was my last batch that had my traditional Psychology, Sociology, and Ethics Courses.  She has gone on to secure her BSc.Nursing from the University Guyana. and has been pursuing numerous continuing education opportunities.

Her name is Candia Mohan, known usually as "Candy".   I am excited that she wants to take on this responsibility.  She has  been a small group tutor for a couple of years.  I think she brings enthusiasm, nursing knowledge, and local clinical expertise.    I was going to say that she can identify with the young students, but really is not much difference in our ages.

I am also thrilled to be assisted by the School's Director Elsie Asabere and another "old" student now a "senior" faculty member, Roberta Binda, will be joining in the PBL program.    The students are lucky to have such a talented bunch of tutors.

Tony and my experiment with PBL has been really successful on a number of levels.  For me, the best evaluator of the success is that the students are usually wanting the classes to continue.

St. Ann's and [John Bosco]
I had planned to teach a photography course to the older girls mainly because they were bugging me to do it.  Luckily, I found out that almost all of them have "graduated"... I said luckily because I didn't raise enough money for the ten "cheap" [really there is no such thing] digital cameras.    The other interesting advice I received from a wise old crone:

My advice is to find out who will be here when you come and if they are still interested. Then tell them that they have to find some money to pay for the cameras. Sister Claudiet was getting some of them work-study places at Banks DIH where they get a stipend. When they produce some cash (it does not have to be the price of a camera) we can get a camera for those who have worked for it. If we give it free, my guess is that interest will wane after a few days and/or the camera will be lost or spoiled. That is what usually happens to new 'toys'.

I really like the idea of work-study placements as it is a drastic change when the girls do leave. They have lived such a structured lives.     So I will need to think of something else.   I guess that I can go back to teaching them how to play basketball.   However, without Dennis there to demonstrate how not to do it, it will be more difficult.  And I will let them keep using my old camera, so there will be pictures to add to my blog.

Speaking of Dennis, he had way more energy than I do when I am there.   He did get out to the boys at Bosco in Plaisance; I almost never do anymore.     I guess he felt a little "good old catholic" guilt as I have a donation from him for both the girls and boys. He did make me sign a contract that none of it would go on my beer tab.

Together In Peace - Fighting Trafficking in Persons

Well, my favourite old crone doesn't miss a beat... she writes, I have become involved in another project.  The Sisters of Mercy have linked up with the Guyana Women Miners Organization to start a Safe House for rescued girls/women from Trafficking In Persons. They call it Together In Peace. The house is on Princess Street ('given' to them by our Bishop). It opened in December last and began taking residents in January.

It began with two girls, one from Aishalton and the other from Lethem. Aishalton was 18 years old with a two-month-old baby, and soon increased to six, then ten  Now there are  ten girls (mostly Amerindians) and two babies.   As you can imagine this is a difficult community: lack of English, unhappy young girls, suicidal attempts, unaccustomed to city and structured living.  The latest addition was a twelve-year-old, 9 months pregnant. The baby was born the day after her arrival at GPHC. She has never been to school and has very little understanding of how to care for a baby!

I was overwhelmed with the enormous tasks ahead of these Sisters that I would not know where to start... But Sister went on... if you can collect some craft materials or interesting DVDs or anything your mind gives you that can be of use to these persons,..... I will be a grateful recipient.   Signed "with love and blessings".

If you would like to assist with some of her requests, you may make a monetary donation through this blog [Indicate "Together in Peace"]

Mental Health Activities

I will be back assisting my colleagues, Psychiatrists Bhiro Harry and Jorge Balseiro to alleviate some of the distress that bad mental health causes individuals, families, society and the health professionals working with them.   I might even assist with some teaching with the psychiatry residents.  As well, the government has been developing resources to deal with this crisis.   Nurse Leslyn Holder has been functioning as the Coordinator of the National Mental Health Institute. She wrote, "The aim is to make little meaningful changes that are sustainable and the big ones will follow once everything comes together. Nonetheless, we have to remain united and strong as a team against all the adversities."

I guess one of these adversities from my perspective is that our Canadian Mental Health's Team visit for this September has needed to be postponed for numerous reasons, but it is expected to be on for February next year.

I hope you will join me for this tour.   I am looking forward to the familiar and the new.

I am thinking about saving airfare this year.