Marystown native pitching in to help make a difference for Haitians.
Marystown native pitching in to help make a difference for Haitians
Marystown native Karen McCarthy has joined Team Broken Earth’s mission to Portau-Prince, Haiti – the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
McCarthy and fellow team members headed to Haiti May 16, where they would host the team’s third Orthopaedic Trauma Symposium May 18-19.
McCarthy is director of communications and corporate affairs with Fortis Inc. During her Haiti mission, she is responsible for logistics and administration which, involving everything from communicating with physicians to ensuring the 50-60 residents and staff physicians participating in the symposium receive a certificate of completion.
“My job is to make the job of the physicians on our team easy, so they can do what they do best for the people of Portau-Prince,” McCarthy said via e-mail shortly after arriving in Haiti.
Team Broken Earth is a volunteer group of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals from across Canada and the U.S. committed to delivering and improving health care in impoverished nations.
The team was initially established to support relief efforts in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that left the people of Haiti in dire need of medical assistance.
Team Broken Earth has since expanded into other areas including Nicaragua, Guatemala, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Team members often volunteer their vacation time to take part in the missions. McCarthy said she volunteered to join Team Broken Earth because she’s had a sense of adventure from the time she was a child growing up in Marystown.
In recent years, she said, she’s come to realize how fortunate her family is. She’s never been without a pay cheque, she said, and has had countless experiences, growth and successes in her career.
“My husband Hugo and our children, Matthew and Annie, live in Portugal Cove now, complete with two mischievous dogs. We have everything we could ever want.”
While her family is doing well, McCarthy said both she and her husband have worked hard for what they have.
“It wasn’t laid in front of us. Our parents taught us everything, and gave us the footing to succeed.”
For McCarthy, it’s important to be grounded in what people in other parts of the world face daily.
“We have no idea the struggles, the corruption, the starvation that people face. There’s no clean water. Disease is rampant. Leaders are challenged to inspire citizenry to keep going, to put one foot in front of the other,” she said.
Off the beaten path
McCarthy said her “soul was kindled” for struggling nations when she visited Nicaragua with Shallaway Youth Choir a few years ago. The group went off the beaten path, she said, and got a taste of the real Nicaragua.
“Dogs were emaciated. Electricity systems would fail daily. Kids would approach us at church, waiting for the cereal bars we had brought with us. We crossed over the border from Nicaragua into Costa Rica by walking in mud, while we worked hard to tow our suitcases. (There was) little to no technology for customs processing. And, in many ways, none of this mattered because, with the choir, we had an opportunity for our kids to sing and perform with Nicaraguan kids,” she said.
The commonality was in the fact that they were all children – speaking the voice of song.
“I returned home fulfilled, able to appreciate what we experience every day in Newfoundland and Labrador,” McCarthy said.
Over the past seven years, McCarthy has watched Team Broken Earth founder Dr. Andrew Furey and his team offer relief efforts in Haiti. She’s proud and grateful to be part of the Team Broken Earth symposium, which is funded through an educational grant from DePuy Synthes (part of Johnson and Johnson Medical Products) to provide knowledge and skills to those practicing orthopaedic trauma care.
“Team Broken Earth, through its over 1,000 volunteers across Canada and the United States, continues to have far-reaching effects on the lives of people in Haiti,” Furey said in a press release about the symposium.
He said Team Broken Earth is also grateful to l’Hôpital Bernard Mevs/Project Medishare for facilitating the symposium and delivering equipment in Haiti.
Paula Caldwell St-Onge, Canadian Ambassador to Haiti, will officially open the symposium May 18. Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and Prime Minister Dr. Jack Guy Lafontant are expected to extend a thank-you to Team Broken Earth for all it has done for the people of Haiti. A delegation from Canada’s Senate will also attend the symposium May 19.
“We are humbled by the many thanks we receive for our efforts,” said Furey, who believes Team Broken Earth is all about making a difference in the lives of the Haitian people.
And that’s why McCarthy signed up for the mission.
For more information on Team Broken Earth visit www. brokenearth.ca
Karen McCarthy with a group of missionaries en route to a Haitian hospital to help provide medical care.
Outside the hospital, the harsh conditions are evident.