Life Saving Measures

First I need to apologize to Tim Lidlow for saying he was not in the picture in last nights blog.  Tim was there, but it was very late when I posted and somehow I missed him.

A note on interpreters; a comment was posted on the previous blog about how the coaches communicated with the children.  Yes, we have interpreters that we hire to help out.  The coaching staff have 3 everyday during their training sessions.  We also have drivers to transport all of us around as special licences are required to drive here.  I should also point out that although the drivers an interpreters are hired, they are all amazing people in their own right and their care an compassion are evident everyday.  I am proud to call them my friends.

Today I came to realization that I cannot be in two places at once no matter how hard I try so the Firefighters provided me with pictures of their work today.  I will cover two of today’s activities both of which WILL save lives!

Let’s start with the Firefighters, this project will start saving lives immediately.  Paul Asmis and Tim Lidlow are here doing training on equipment that was delivered in the spring.  The first is the ice rescue equipment.  They started with a training video that they reviewed with the Chausy Firefighters prior to going outside for hands on training.  Here is Paul showing them how quickly the equipment assembles after being pulled from the truck:

They completed the training with hands on exercises and practice runs outside:

Before this equipment arrived there was no ice rescue equipment in the region and without a doubt they lose people every winter from various incidents, most frequently during ice fishing!

Their other training was on the several sets of  “jaws of life” that had been donated in Canada.  They started with the care of the equipment and it’s loading on the truck:

The Chausy Fire Department provided an old truck for the training and practice.  In this picture Tim is reviewing the basics of the de-construction process as well as defining what the equipment can and cannot do:

Of course the training was “hands on” so the Firefighters could get a feel for the operation of the equipment:

By the time they were finished there was not much left of the truck:

I cannot emphasize enough how important this initiative is and the tremendous impact it will have on this region.  Tim, Paul and all the guys back home who made this happen are now saving lives for years to come!

The other life saving project discussed today was a prospective “Crisis Centre” modelled after the Canadian “Interval House” concept which would be the first of it’s kind in the region.  This is a project that would be done in cooperation with the local Social Services and the Mayor of the region.  Dave has already spoken with the Mayor who has agreed to pay the rent on the location and take care of the staffing if we do the required renovations to the site, sort of an “if you build it, they will run it” system!  This is perfect for us, as with all of our projects, it is sustainable locally and without long term financial commitment on our part.  Give me a fish and feed me for a day, teach me to fish and feed me for life!  The Mayor has approved the use of space in a building which, conveniently, already houses a Social Services office:

The section of the building has space for 4 to 5 bedrooms as well as a common kitchen and living area.  It is on the first floor and in the space defined by the door in this picture and the 3 windows to the right:

The second floor of this building houses rooms for people waiting to get into an apartment so it is close to a transition location.  It also happens to be right across the street from the Police station for security.  In this picture our group is inspecting the area to see if it is suitable.  From left to right, our interpreter Yulia, Mary Ellen Morris, Dave Shaw, Rene Melchers and Randy Veinotte:

Both Mary Ellen and Rene are Rotary Club members.  The Rotary Clubs in the Brockville region have been supporters from the very beginning of CAC’s humanitarian efforts.  Randy Veinotte is the owner of Harland-Veinotte Transport who has supported us through transportation of our sea containers full of aid from Brockville to the Port of Montreal, another partnership that goes back to the very first shipments.

Social Services took us to visit a few homes that help to represent the need for this crisis centre.  With the poverty and unemployment in the region, not to mention access to cheap alcohol, there is certainly no shortage of prospective clients for a shelter for women and children who are victoms of abuse.  We took with us parcels of staple foods to leave with these families.  We visited 3 homes and needless to say it would be inappropriate to publish photos of those involved but I can outline some of the situations.

The first was a home of a woman who is 50 years old with a 2 year old child.  When she was a teenager her father killed her mother leaving her and her sister to fend for themselves.  She was soon pregnant and married.  Her children have since grown and she is currently living with one of her daughters who also has a young child.  The home has been without electricity for 5 months as they cannot afford to pay the bills.  They heat and cook on a home-made pechka seen in this photo:

We asked what their biggest problems were aside from the electricity and the woman said that they had no cupboards for clothing.  When we asked where they stored the clothing now she admitted that they didn’t really have any!

At the second home the children were at school and the couple appeared to be out.  However the Social Services worker saw one of them peaking out of the window and guessed, based on experience, that they were both drunk and did not want to meet with us at that time.  We left the food outside the door in hopes that the children would have a good meal or two.

The final visit was to an apartment in Chausy where a woman lives with her husband, 2 children, her husbands 2 brothers and one of their girlfriends.  The woman had recently lost her right hand in an accident in the local Flax Factory but was back working.  The children are known to spend most of their time outside while partying takes place in the apartment.  When the husband is angry he kicks his wife and the children outside to live until he changes his mind and/or sobers up.

These were difficult visits for the delegation, but the point was made … this crisis centre needs to be built and it cannot happen soon enough!

Eric McKenzie

6 thoughts on “Life Saving Measures

  1. Kenny Sine

    Hey Eric
    Thanks for the updates. Please pass on to Tim & Paul my thanks for the outstanding effort, I’m proud of them. Oh yeah, also tell them the 24 hour vote was passed then watch Tim’s face!
    Kenny Sine

    Kenny Sine

  2. Kimberley Wright

    Thank you Mike for sharing this link with me. I am most interested to see how the shelter project unfolds.

    Eric, the work that you and your colleagues are doing is tremendous! My hat goes off to you all.

    I look forward to seeing more about the shelter project. Such an essential community support for women and their children. I wonder how that community will react. Do you think there will be any resistance or backlash at all?

  3. Ken Holliday

    While the selfish part of me wishes that you were back in Brockville, you have exemplified what you are doing is most important.
    Thank-you from back home.

  4. Mike Waldron

    Your updates are very inspiring. I have given a copy of this one to Kim Wright at Interval House as I know she is interested in this project.

  5. Kate Van Dyck

    Dear Eric and the other CAC members- both at home and traveling,

    What you all do makes such an immediate difference in the quality of the Chausy area families! Most of all is the message of hope that your efforts brings to the children: that they are valued human beings and well worth the assistance your group brings to them from the other side of the earth! Life-saving and life-changing results!
    Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us,
    Kate Van Dyck
    Alexandria, Virginia

  6. Monika

    Dear Eric,
    Thank you so much for your updates and the explanation on how the communication works. I have been following your posts for a while now and every time I get a new post update, I read it right away! Your support and commitment are so admirable. You and the groups you work with are doing such an amazing job!

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