Showing posts from 2013

Red Dirt Road

"Live simply that others might simply live."  - Elizabeth Ann Seton    This month I had the opportunity to spend two incredible weeks living simply in Southern Tanzania; playing in red dirt with smiling children, sitting in sun burnt grass with patiently waiting mothers, and listening to stories from wise elders over a cups of hot tea.  I owe these simple pleasures to  Chalice , a faith based NGO from Nova Scotia who graciously allowed me to join them on a two week medical mission (TANCAN 2013) in Songea and the surrounding villages of Mbinga, Mbangamao, Mpepai and Lifikara...   To read Susannah's the full post, click here .

"Asante, Asante Sana!"

This week an incredible team of Canadians and Tanzanians collaborated to support, serve and spread love in the Songea region of Southern Tanzania.    New mural in the reception area of St. Norbert's Clinic   As we drove down the bumpy red dirt road and pulled into the small but mighty community of Bombambili we were greeted in true Tanzania style - we ate, we danced and we sang.   Over the course of the week our team developed strong friendships and the deepest respect for our Tanzanian counterparts, who possess endless amounts of energy, exude positivity in the most challenging of situations and whose resilience and resourcefulness are remarkable.   Between the dancing and the singing and the painting of the clinic walls our team offered medical services to 725 community members; children, elderly and mothers.   The gratitude we were shown was overwhelming, children touched our heads and the elderly got down on the floor to show how much they appreciated

TANCAN 2013 - Day 1 & 2 - Flying with Anticipation

Here we sit in Zurich airport, awaiting our flight to Dar es Salaam, TZ...  Some of us left home as early as 4 a.m. on Saturday morning and are still going strong, smiles in tact!  Due to the recent fire in Nairobi airport (thankfully no one was harmed), our flights have been changed and things are a bit behind schedule.  We've had an extra 3 hours in the airport here, but being Swiss, it's a lovely airport with lots of space, natural light, plants growing, great view of the hillside and planes on the tarmack, and incredibly clean.  One of our teammates, Agatha, commented upon arrival: "It's so clean, I could sleep on the floor!"  :)  I agree!!  We are enjoying these comforts while they last. 10 of our team are here and we are getting to know each other well - we are blessed with a great team dynamic already!  1 of our team has already landed in Dar, 3 more to follow in about 30 minutes now, and finally 2 more are still in Canada, awaiting to get on a plane tom

Coming Home

So…I have been asked to do the final blog post for our Guatemala Solidarity Tour.   I’m not a very good writer but, writing from the heart and by the Grace of God I’ll give it a shot. Not only was this my first mission trip, but it was my first time outside North America.   Why you ask?   Because I was afraid.   Of what? Everything.    I heard so many horror stories about people missing flights and luggage being lost, etc.   I soon realized even if those things DID happen it didn’t matter; everything would work out in the end.   Even the language barrier didn’t seem to slow us down!   The warm welcome we received from everyone we met was amazing, it was like we’d known each other forever and were just coming back after a long time away.   The love, care, concern and support that we all showed one another no matter what the situation just blew me away.   It felt like family.   I have worked for Chalice since 2009 and I thought it was about time I saw firsthand what Chali

Hasta Luego (June 6)

My 1st day back home and when I open my email this is the message that is there from Neal Donald Walsch whom I get inspirational messages from daily: On this day of your life, Sharon, I believe God wants you to know... ...that words may help you understand something, but experience allows you to know. Yesterday as I made the drive back home from Calgary in silence, I didn't feel a need to turn the radio on as I needed time and quiet to process the 12 days I spent in Guatemala. These words written above are so true, it is difficult to explain all I experienced but there is a deep knowing. To read more, check out Sharon's personal blog here....     At work in the Nutrition Centre   At Hogar Luis Amigo (home for girls)   Big smiles with our new friends!        

The Nutrition Centre (May 31)

I spent most of my service time during this Guatemala experience at the Nutrition Centre in Champerico. This centre is a residential program run by Sister Rosa who is a most caring, capable and knowledgeable woman with a nursing background. The children in her care are suffering from malnutrition. It was shocking to see how small and fragile these children are, especially given their ages. Our first tour of the Centre brought many of us to tears. One little girl was 11 years old and was no bigger than a four year old. Another child was almost 4 and looked like a one year old. These children responded so well to our time and attention; and we saw noticeable differences in their abilities and social interactions by the end of the week. I am a physiotherapist who has worked in the field of Infant Development for many years. It is rare – if ever – that I saw a child who was significantly malnourished in Canada. And so it was shocking for me to see the impact of malnutrition on the deve

A day in the life of a participant in the Chalice Solidarity Tour to Guatemala (May 31)

We started the morning with running water.   Yeahhh!   We had a very good breakfast of eggs, beans, ham, toast and fresh pineapple, papaya, and cantaloupe.   After breakfast, most of the group went to the Nutrition Centre on tricycle rickshaws because the white van was being repaired (we noticed a loud squeak the day before).   A smaller group visited sponsored children at Andres Giron. Norma went to the Nutrition Center to help pack 600 bags with donated items (brought with us from Canada) such as pencils, crayons, sharpeners, notebooks, colouring books, jigsaw puzzles, soccer balls, stuffed toys, toothpaste, tooth brushes and more! Along with Norma, Tim, Nicola, Cathy, Sandy, Damien, Patty, Diana, and others worked in an assembly line to get this done.   The conditions were very hot (mucho calor!) and mucho humid.   The bags will be handed out to the sponsor children and their families on Sunday at the Community Picnic.   Others who went to the Nutrition Centre chose to help with t

The Build Site & Nutrition Centre (May 27 & 28)

We have heard in John’s Gospel, “Love one another as I have loved you.” One way to live agape (unconditional love) is through the virtue of solidarity. Solidarity calls us to “an active commitment to our neighbor and demands of us a shared responsibility for all of humanity. This duty is not limited to one’s own family, nation or state, but extends progressively to all…so no one can consider himself or herself extraneous or indifferent to the lot of another member of the human family.” John Paul II 6 Days into our Journey and where do where do I begin?   I have seen on TV and in pictures such areas of the world but to experience it and see it first hand is truly an experience that will change who I am as a person.   Each evening we gather to share our day and we are to reflect   on where we saw God or perhaps where we saw the absence of God.   God is here and very much in the work that Chalice, the Sisters and the support staff and all are involved with.   On Monday morning a

Many Things

It was our first morning waking up in Guatemala! Most of the twenty-five of us had travelled long hours the day before in order to wake up in a beautiful, quiet and hidden away gem of a retreat centre in San Jose de Pinula (a forty minute bus ride from the airport in Guatemala City). We had spent the night there and, after a Sunday morning mass and breakfast, we were on our way. As I packed my bags, getting ready for the long bus ride to Chalice site in Champerico, I found myself feeling a bit sad and teary. I shared with this Father Duncan, reflecting on how I initially wondered why I was feeling sad: “All I did was sleep here." But then I realized the same thing that Father Duncan said to me: “There are many things that have and are happening here.” This, for me, sums up the Third Annual Chalice Solidarity tour so far. Between all the travel, conversation, and mission work at the Chalice sites, there are indeed many things happening. However, more than the activity, the