Monthly Archives: May 2014

Introducing the 2014 Group: Mount Allison University

Shayla Baumeler

Shayla Baumeler

My name is Shayla Baumeler and I am a student at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. I have grown up in Victoria, British Columbia my whole life but have recently completed my first year of living on the east coast. I am currently enrolled as a Biochemistry major and I am planning to double minor in International Development and Hispanic Studies. I love being involved in my community in many ways, including through sports such as volleyball and softball, through local volunteer initiatives and through pretty much everything else in between.  In addition, I am extremely passionate about photography and documenting my experiences through my images.

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the human body and have been interested in entering the medical field. Through my travels from a young age, however, a passion has ignited within me to become more involved in the development of health care in developing nations.

In 2010, I traveled to a rural village in India and helped build a school for the local children. The following year, I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina and worked in a Community Centre in the slums. Although both of these experiences were vastly different, one in a rural village and the other in a populated slum, I still observed poverty to its greatest degree. At the same time, the local people were the happiest people I had ever met. These experiences, among others, changed my perspective on my life. So, when I was told about Praxis Malawi, I couldn’t say yes fast enough!

While in Malawi, I am going to be working on the health initiative with a few other members of the group. We will mainly be doing preliminary research on the state of health in the village of Makupo and surrounding areas. We will be connecting with local families and villagers to understand their previous experiences with the health care system and ultimately where they see it progressing in the future.

More than anything, I am excited to connect with the local Malawians and the Praxis Malawi team to learn more about myself and the wonderful world around me. Thanks in advance for tuning into our blog; I look forward to taking this journey with you!

Introducing the 2014 Group: Champlain College

Dale Perks

Dale Perks

My name is Dale Perks and I am a nursing teacher at Champlain College, St Lambert, Quebec.

My professional background is in nursing. I am a nurse clinician with an expertise in wound care, having completed the IIWCC with the University of Toronto.

After 27 years in practice, with the last 14 as “nurse in-charge” of the Surgery Clinic at the Montreal General hospital, part of the McGill University Health Center, I recently took a sabbatical to teach nursing at the college level.

I have dreamed of working in a missionary, or doing humanitarian work since the age of 15, but as fate would have it, I met the love of my life at 18, married and had 2 lovely daughters, which put my dream on hold. I learned of this project through my youngest daughter, Amanda, who recently graduated from Education at McGill University. I am glad to be on board and I am happy to be able to fulfill my childhood dream!

Along with various students and other members from Ireland and Canada, I will be working on the health initiative/health clinic for the next 5 weeks.

I look forward to sharing my journey and experiences with all of you, and would like to express my gratitude for everyone’s support and prayers.

 

Introducing the 2014 Group: Trinity College

Fintan Sheerin

Fintan Sheerin

My name is Fintan Sheerin and I am a lecturer in intellectual disability nursing at Trinity College School of Nursing and Midwifery in Dublin, Ireland. A drop-out from several institutes of higher education, I originally embarked on a life in religion, and entered the seminary of a Roman Catholic missionary congregation. THAT didn’t last long and I am now happily married with four daughters.

As noted, my professional background is in nursing. I am a registered intellectual disability nurse, a registered general nurse and a registered nurse tutor. After 20 years in practice, I took a teaching job in Trinity College where I have been exploring the praxis of social justice among people with an intellectual disability for some years. This has revived my passion for human rights. It is from this background that I have come to Praxis Malawi. I have been asked to coordinate work with the local community around the development of a health initiative or ‘clinic’. This initial and developing dialogue will be the main focus of my work in Malawi and I look forward to working with Canadian, Malawian and Irish colleagues in this regard.

 

Eloise Sheerin

Eloise Sheerin

My name is Eloise Sheerin. I am one of the Irish crew heading on this exciting trip to Malawi. I will be going with my friend from my college Suzanna and my dad Fintan (also my lecturer!).

I am 20 years old and live in County Cavan, Ireland (in the countryside). I love travelling and have done some of this in Europe mainly. I was an au pair in Switzerland for a year before college where I learned French and a lot of life lessons. I love doing outdoor activities but also snuggling up on the couch for a film or reading a book.

I am a student Intellectual Disability Nurse studying in Trinity College Dublin. I feel that my experience in working with people with intellectual disabilities who are marginalised in our society will help me work with and understand those in a similar position. I also work as a carer for people with intellectual disabilities and behaviour that challenges on weekends and through the holidays for 2 years now. I am glad that I can work and study in the same field.

The part that I probably like the most about this project is that we, as volunteers and the community members, are all working as equals as everyone has an expertise in something and we all have something to learn from each other. We are not simply going over with the idea that we have all the answers to their questions but quite the opposite! I have had to rid myself of any preconceived notions I had and push myself to never assume I know.

I am aware that the community has asked for a health clinic initiative to be discussed and work done to pursue this. I will be helping in this as much as I can with some of the others in the Health team. Hopefully, this will be followed by putting realistic stepping stones in place for something to come.

As my background is in working with people with intellectual disabilities, I would like to tie this into the work we are doing. Suzanna and I have similar ideas in this and will be working together. We want to understand more about the life of people with intellectual disabilities and research people’s knowledge and ideas about them in their community. We would like to encourage inclusiveness into society (if this is not already there) working alongside the other members of the group from Praxis Malawi involved in work such as education and health. An idea formed was to set up a kind of support group (again, if not already done so) for people in the community to talk about and learn from each other about intellectual disabilities from the people themselves, their families, friends and anyone else.

Following from this we would like to introduce an idea of multisensory stimulation for people with intellectual disabilities. This could be a way for inclusion and socialisation. This idea could be developed by the community and they can come up with ways to interact with and support people with intellectual disabilities in their community.

I hope to be able to listen and work towards the desires of the community and leave with a new bountiful knowledge base and an unforgettable experience!

 

Suzanna Weedle

Suzanna Weedle

Hello everyone! My name is Suzanna Weedle. I am 20 years old and am from County Cork, Ireland. I study intellectual Disability Nursing in Trinity College Dublin with my friend Eloise and Fintan is one of my lecturers.

I am passionate about working with people who experience intellectual disability. When I was 16 I traveled to volunteer in orphanages and institutions in Belarus for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as some with mental health issues. I fell in love with the people I met there and have returned twice more since my first trip. I adore going over there as it’s always such a rewarding and enriching experience. I have also volunteered in Sri Lanka with kids in a Montessori as well as with teenagers in a day centre. I learned so much from my past volunteering experiences that I hope will stand to me as I embark on this adventure to Africa!

So as you can guess I love volunteering! I am so excited to travel to Malawi with Praxis Malawi. I really admire and believe in their ethos of equality and team work. In intellectual disability nursing we strive for a power sharing approach between nurse and client. I feel this trip will teach me a lot about how to really achieve that in practice. Everyone has something to contribute and no one has all the answers, I certainly don’t anyway!

I hope to help with the development of the health clinic along with Eloise, Fintan, Grace, Shayla and Dale. I would like to explore the various health issues facing the community members living in Makupo village and see what the best way to address these problems would be.

I would also like to explore the perspectives of the local community of people with intellectual disabilities. Eloise and I have had many discussions about our hopes for the trip. Firstly, we would like to hear from the people what issues, if any, they encounter when it comes to people with intellectual disabilities. Secondly, we would be interested in establishing a community support group (if the community feel the need for one) for those who have an intellectual disability, or who have a friend or relative with an intellectual disability, to create a space for in depth discussion and support to occur. Finally, we would like to explore the use of multisensory stimulation as a means of enhancing social inclusion and how that would fit in with Malawian culture and resources. Hopefully, we will be able to truly listen to the locals and apply what we have learned in our course to address any issues raised.

I’m scared and excited all at once, but eager to begin this journey nonetheless. Malawi here I come!

Introducing the 2014 Group: St. FX University

Aaron Thornell

Aaron Thornell

My name is Aaron Thornell, and I am a student at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. I was born and raised in Ottawa, and am a fervent sports fan and participant. I have played hockey and soccer for most of my life, and have recently tried my hand(s) at rowing at St. FX. I consider myself so lucky to come from an amazing and loving family, and owe an incalculable amount of thanks to my parents and older sister.

During my three years at St. FX, I have studied history and development, and am hoping to enter the field of development in the future. Specifically, my interests lie in the realm of sport, and have directed a great deal of my studies and efforts towards the emerging field of sport for development. I am a firm believer that it is a wonderful way to garner participation, enthusiasm, and cohesion in projects. I think that sports can also be very helpful in conveying ideas relating education and health to young people.

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to do some traveling, but have never been lucky enough to visit Sub-Saharan Africa. I am extremely excited to immerse myself in the Malawian culture as much as possible, as well as take in the lessons of the people and the land itself. During my time in Malawi with the Praxis Malawi project, I am hoping to continue research in this field of sport for development. I feel very fortunate to have been provided an opportunity to work with members of the community in Malawi in the organization of the campus sports field. I am hoping help in any way possible, primarily by listening to the desires of the community members. Most of all, I believe this opportunity will be a wonderful learning experience, and I am sure I will be discovering a great deal about myself.

Rita Morley

Rita Morley

My name is Rita Morley and I hail from the beautiful province of Nova Scotia, Canada. I have been so fortunate to have grown up in a big, loving, and very supportive family. My own personal development has certainly been influenced by many a kitchen table discussion about community and its multitude of components. Being privy to these conversations of family and neighbours, I have inherited a strong sense of the importance of human rights, social justice, leadership, participation, and the true interconnection amongst human beings.

Building on this foundation, I am now on my way to earning a degree in Development Studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and through my studies I have connected with the Praxis Malawi Project. While in Malawi, I will be researching about what factors are involved in forming a healthy and holistic sense of community. In order to gain some new insight and learn from the village of Makupo, I will be helping to facilitate reciprocity and communication between the various projects of Praxis Malawi and the village leadership.

This will be my first time to the continent of Africa and I am very grateful and excited for this opportunity to learn and grow through meeting new people and experiencing a different culture. I am jumping into this experience with openness and dedication. Wish me luck!

Introducing the 2014 Group: Bishop’s University

Emily Parker

Emily Parker

Hello everyone! My name is Emily Parker and I am currently enrolled in the Elementary Education program at Bishop’s University. I just finished my second year in the program. I am someone that cannot stay in one place. I love to travel, meet new people and be active! My favourite sports are rugby and soccer, as well as skiing in the winter time. Some of my other hobbies include: cooking and baking; consequently I love reading as many different kinds of vegetarian, vegan and raw cookbooks as possible; seeing how I am a vegetarian! I have a big family composed of my mother, older brother, step-dad, two step-sisters and one step-brother (I am the youngest). You could say I’m one lucky girl!

My expectations in Malawi are not to have any too specifically, because I hope to take the entire experience day by day and live it to the fullest! However, I look forward to developing the Grade 2 curriculum with the 3 other education girls. We already got the chance to work together a little bit and it went very well; we fed off each other’s ideas wonderfully. That is why I am so eager to continue on this project with them in Malawi. I also look forward to developing my secondary research focus which is to create and incorporate a realistic nutrition component into our curriculum based on their local farming resources. All in all, I want this experience to be all about learning and sharing knowledge not only with the others on the trip, but with the locals of the area. Let’s be honest; I’M EXCITED!

 

Xiaoting Sun

Xiaoting Sun

Hey, everybody. My name is Xiaoting Sun. I am a 23 year old international student of Bishop’s University. I am from south of China—Guilin, which is a very famous tourist site in China. This is my second year in Canada and my major is economics. This summer I also teach some students Chinese. I am kind of an outgoing girl. I love traveling as through travel we can see a lot of things which we cannot imagine, and learn something which we cannot find in the textbook. You will have a fresh look to this world and also the people who is beside you. I like watching movie and after watching I like talking about the plot with my friends. I like dancing, work-out, shopping with friends, and beautiful clothes like all the girls like.

The focus of my research is about understand how a micro-loan project can help the local people change their economic situation and improve their quality of life. Moreover, what kind of financial help they really need. I am just excited and nervous about it as after tomorrow our fantastic adventure will begin!!! Hoping the people and animals like us.

 

Megan Blair

Megan Blair

My name is Megan Blair and I will be going into my second year at Bishop’s University in International Studies. I am someone who is relatively outgoing and I enjoy being around people just as much as I enjoy my alone time. I am a very active person and sports have always been an important part of my life. My favorite sports consist of soccer and snowboarding. I have a passion and a desire to travel. I have not been all over the world but traveling the world is definitely on my to-do list. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Haiti four times (on humanitarian trips) since the earthquake in 2010. That is where I discovered my passion for helping others and contributing to something bigger than myself. One of my favourite parts of going to Haiti is meeting the people and getting the chance to talk to them. I really enjoy making a difference in people’s lives and I feel like Praxis Malawi will offer me so much more than a simple Humanitarian trip. People have told me that you can’t go to a country expecting to change the lives of millions of people. But what I have learnt is that to the few people whose lives I may have touched, it matters to them.

Praxis Malawi will help me to grow as a person and as a student. It will be challenging and I expect it will change me in so many ways. I hope to embrace this amazing opportunity to learn from others – those traveling with the group and the people we will meet in Malawi. I am hoping that this opportunity as well as the chance to interact with people from such diversified backgrounds will open my eyes to different programs of study that may be of interest to me. As well, I am hoping to discover a little more about myself. I am hoping this trip will allow me to see my own full potential and what I can accomplish.

 

Clare Radford

Clare Radford

My name is Clare Radford and I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies at Bishop’s. I am in the program for Primary/ Elementary. I am from Ottawa Ontario and come from a big family of six. I am the second oldest out of four kids. I have an older sister, a younger brother and a little sister and my mother and father. My family means everything to me. They have been an amazing support system helping me achieve my dreams and I owe them an infinite amount of thanks.

I love meeting new people and being active. I have played hockey for most of my life along with many other sports and activities such as kickboxing, karate, rugby, swimming and water skiing.

My expectations in Malawi are simple. I hope to take every day and make the most of it. I am very excited about becoming as involved as possible in the program that has been planned for those of us on this project. As well, I look forward to being a student of the Malawian people and learning from the land itself. I am sure that this journey will also lead me to learn a great deal about myself as a Canadian and of course as just a person too.  I look forward to developing the Grade 2 curriculum with the other educations students. Recently, we worked together to develop some of our ideas for the Grade Two curriculum. This experience was very productive and positive.  I am also really looking forward in developing my secondary research focus of gaining a better understanding of how the educators of the Malawian schools as well as members of the surrounding communities may use the sports field that will be built on our campus. I am sure that this journey will be a real adventure of learning and I am very grateful that I will have this opportunity to visit Malawi with the Praxis Malawi program.

 

Ryan Moyer

Ryan Moyer

I’m a full-time sociologist (in training), writer and reader as well as a part-time runner, painter, poet, basketball player, music producer and boxer. I enjoy informed conversation. My favorite colour is forest green. I have a spectacularly weird family, a lot of stories that would make my mother faint and a keen eye for adventure. I was creatively named Ryan Moyer by my parents in 1989. “Ryan” was the thirteenth most popular baby name that year and apparently means “little prince” or “young royalty”. Considering neither of these descriptors are viable, I wonder why this name was chosen for me to scribble on my rent cheques?

Juliet begs the question of “What’s in a name?” as her intellect, heart and reason (no doubt fueled by a rush of rebellion and teenage hormones) come into conflict with her families traditonal knowledge and hatred for another family. If you don’t dabble in classic theater, I’m sure many of you may have seen the 1996 version of “Romeo and Juliet” (probably for the sex appeal alone, as it is featuring the equaly beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes) where Shakespeare’s answer to the question can be summed up with a romantic “not much”. Conversely in “Anne of Green Gables” the protagonist states that a rose wouldn’t smell as nice if it was called “skunk-cabbage” and, continuing their streak of stealing material, “The Simpsons” claimed a rose wouldn’t smell as sweet if it was called a “Stenchblossom”.

Both of these answers hold a certain amount of truth and prove valuable lessons, not the least of which being that great artists steal. Shakespeares answer of course asserts that all things akin are that way regardless of categorization, stratification or, of course, name. The second is that regardless of this likeness, language and social stratification do wield power, but, only if you don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. Are you curious enough? I’m trying.

Umberto Eco wrote an essay aptly titled “A Rose by Any Other Name” in which he describes the dangers of translating literature from one language to another, most noteably that there can be misconceptions and misrepresentations that occur during this translation. These misrepresentations can occur in the translation of culture as well. Formerly colonized subjects (Malawi gained independance in 1964) are homogonized and, as Franz Fanon writes, “over-determined from without”. With that, I am no longer willing to accept this type of informational artifice, hense this trip to Malawi.

What does the name “Africa” represent in my mind, and more so, what does the categorization of Africa as a “developing” continent mean? Most of my knowledge on Africa, prior to the preparation for this venture and some cursory analysis’ for papers, has been provided through Western film and broadcasting corporations. Moving images of death, guns, disease and, as the 1995 film “Congo” so terribly portrayed, deadly animals. The continent seemed so uncivilized and dangerous, with no explanation as to why it was in such despair and poverty. Why am I repeatedly being told such a superficial story?

So, to conclude, I depart in order to tell my own.