Never underestimate the impact one person can have on the life of another. Never underestimate the impact one can have on an entire community. Never underestimate the effect this can have on an entire country.
When a committed group of dedicated individuals gets together for a cause they are passionate about, the effect is large and widespread. This is what changes communities and countries.
This was clear in the stories and facts presented by some of the leading experts at the 1st Annual Collaborative for Haiti, sponsored by Kaiser's Southeast Permanente Medical Group in Atlanta.
To the boy in Haiti who was chained with animals and beaten - left with no hope is given a new life when a rescue worker during Haiti's earthquake was called to help and granted legal custody to arrange a better life for the child. Five years later, he is thriving and smiling big. The rescue worker was this boy's only hope.
To the community in rural Pakistan, a group of women are educated on health care by a visiting health care worker. The women are given access to information and skills they did not have before. The handful of women take the skills to not only their community, but the surrounding communities: 1,000s of lives are elevated, infant mortality drops. This is a real story, one of many presented by Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, a world renowned expert on pediatrics and global poverty.
To the country of Kyrgyzstan that was left with empty clinics and little resources after the collapse of communism, a doctor and a team of professionals partner with the Ministry of Health to improve the health system. [Dr. Lee Jacobs and Central Asian Partners].
"But to engage." - Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, PhD, MBBS, FRCPCH, FAAP.
Act together and build relationships, Dr. Bhutta encourages. He has seen first hand the results when countries, professionals, and individuals come together for good. This figure stood out in his presentation:
Worldwide, preventable deaths have dropped from 12.7 million to 5.9 million in recent years.
THERE'S MORE: PREVENTABLE DEATHS
There's still more to accomplish, especially when many deaths are preventable - such as malnutrition and Maternal/Neonatal/Newborn related deaths.
"Haiti has the highest rates of infant, children under five, and maternal mortality in the Western hemisphere. This is unaccepatable." -Bethesda Referral & Teaching Hospital
A doctor recognizes this problem and says "Let's build a hospital". Thus, the 'birth' of BRTH (Bethesda Teaching & Referral Hospital / dedicated to Maternal/Newborn care) to be built at Port Lofito in Haiti.
It's not like this is fiction. The same doctor, Dr. Lee Jacobs, assisted the entire health care system of Kyrgyzstan after the fall of communism. By partnering with the Ministry of Health and the right individuals...together, they improved the health system that had country wide effects.
Partnerships and collaboration is key.
This was the purpose of the first Annual Collaborative for Haiti, organized by Dr. Jacobs that brought together NGOs, mission groups, medical professionals, leading experts in global poverty, such as Dr. Bhutta. An Advisor to the President of Haiti and representation from Consulate was also present.
Stories of impact filled the room. Real life stories directly from Haiti as told by the diverse group of individuals - each in their own are of expertise - working in the villages and towns.
Too many to include, but a few highlights:
TO CHANGE AND SAVE LIVES
One doesn't have to be a doctor, nurse, or midwife to have an affect on an entire community. A person's passion and calling can create the same effect. For example:
Husband / wife team had a call to visit Haiti. Inspired to build a clinic, their vision became real: 'Our Children's Clinic' under their organization No Time For Poverty.
"They never set out to “save” Haiti as is so often the case. Nor did they set out to change the “world.” They thought the former to be condescending and the latter impossible."
Yet, "Today, KTNY (clinic) runs like clockwork. It does amazing work every day and has seen a large decline in the malnutrition and the mortality rates in the children it serves."
Their impact is on thousands of children's lives.
A father / daughter team starts the organization Haitian Health Foundation to serve in Jeremie, Haiti and becomes one of the few / if not only groups serving in the 500+ rural hard to reach villages, many of which are on the mountains.
TO SAVE A CHILD'S LIFE -
The impact on just one child is as significant, when you are the one who ultimately ends up responsible for their well-being, such as the story from the gentleman whom I sat by at lunch during the conference. We struck up a conversation when I heard him talking about moving a donated ambulance by way of the U.S. Air Force.
I asked him if this was the Denton Program he was referring to. (It was). I knew the program well, having worked for the Senator (Denton) who established the Amendment that permits the U.S. military to move donated humanitarian cargo aboard space available U.S. military aircraft. Prior to working for Sen. Denton, I became very familiar with ambulances and other cargo traveling to destinations worldwide via military aircraft. My best friend coordinated the logistics of each airlift / space available mission via U.S. military aircraft to destinations worldwide for NGOs under a Department of Defense contract. I did Public Relations & Communications.
The conversation led to how he was called to Haiti and, unbeknownst to him, to be a father figure to a little boy that beaten and penned up daily. A fellow rescue worker found the boy and turned to him for hope and help. A judge granted him custody of the child.
SEEING WHAT IS POSSIBLE
"The eye does not see what the mind does not know." - Dr. Bhutta.
Dr. Bhutta has the gift of presenting information and ideas so that others may have an eye opening and thus, mind opening view of that is possible - based on what has been done. He knows through experience in working with sick children around the world - and the governments, NGOs, medical experts, and professionals that, together, create impact. And save lives.
Business leaders, rescue workers, doctors, nurses, midwives, retired military, husbands and wives, educators...the field is diverse in international humanitarian affairs. Each one has their own story and impact. Having personally been in the international humanitarian work, particularly in building relationships between the U.S. military and NGOs, I've personally witnessed stories of impact ... from the furthest village in Guatemala to U.S. military commands and in government.
It's not necessary to go to Haiti or to the other side of the world to build and hospital, clinic, or school to impact lives.
The common denominator behind all of the individuals and organizations is passion and purpose.
PASSION & PURPOSE
Passion and purpose can be applied at home or around the world. While one person or group may travel to far away places around the world, others may find their calling to serve locally. Veteran support, Hospice, Homeless, Domestic violence victims, child Foster care, mentorship, Animals, Environment, etc, or be and Advocate, work for policy change....
....Find your place of impact.
Why / Why not serve others? An insightful piece published in Relevant Magazine':
*Photo credit: IMEC (International Medical Equipment Collaborative), a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform communities in the developing world by equipping hospitals, clinics, schools, small family farms in the developing world. Over 1,000 projects in over 95 countries since 1995.