Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Human Spirit

Yolanda Monument Astrodome Tacloban - an evacuation centre for the Super Typhoon that saved 8000 lives
This TWECS mission to Tacloban will be unlike any other experience I've had in my life thus far. I'm not sure what to expect, but I do know there will be many layers to this adventure. 
I surely expect to be challenged , to be tired , to be heartbroken , and to be inspired. The goal is to muster whatever skills, experience and ambition I can to help the team help those in need. 
Personally, I am grateful for the opportunity to share this trip with my brother, Eric , a veteran of three previous TWECS missions. I would probably have never joined an eye care mission without his encouragement and participation. I also believe I will return home a better husband, father and person for having seen and experienced what I will on this trip. The internet is helpful for trying to get a picture of where we are heading, and the situations we will be faced with ,however, it can't possibly prepare me for the human element of this mission. I have always believed that much of the beauty of life is found in relationships ; whether it be with a spouse, a child, a sibling, a business associate...whatever. I will feel blessed beyond measure for whatever small, fleeting relationship I may have with the people of Tacloban. To know that someone was buoyed and given hope by way of a group of strangers from half way around the world who cared about them will be an incredible gift. As we leave Canada for the Philippines I am both a little nervous and excited ;  "nercited" as my son says. For the next two weeks, my job will be to work as hard as I can in whatever capacity I am asked , to help as many people as we can as part of a compassionate group of TWECS volunteers. I look forward to the challenge, the sweat, probably some tears, and the opportunity to help. Whatever reward I take home with me will be a bonus. "Thank you" to my family and friends for allowing me this opportunity. 
Randy Smart , Moorefield ON 

Yolanda Village, Anibong 
One of the many cargo ships washed ashore in Yolanda Village
It has been exactly two years since Super-Typhoon Haiyan hit Tacloban, killing thousands and displacing over one million people in the surrounding area. 
I joined the TWECS trip that went to Tacloban 2 months after the disaster, and the images of destruction I saw, and the stories of loss that I heard from survivors will stay with me for life.   What has also stayed with me is the resolve and attitude of the Philippine people of Tacloban as they began to rebuild their lives: compassionate, caring, patient, and ever thankful for assistance.  I am excited to have a chance to return to Tacloban with TWECS to hopefully see progress and rebuilding,  and to help those who have not yet recovered.  Thousands are still living in makeshift homes, in extremely difficult conditions.  
As an optometrist, I recognize the importance of vision as a human's primary sense, particularly important in such challenging environments.  It will be an honor to help people see properly, as they rebuild their lives and their futures.
Dr. Brad McDougall, Vancouver BC

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