Canadian doctors volunteer with Samaritan's Purse to go to the Philippines to assist typhoon victims
Written by Mark McNeil
Two physicians from Hamilton will begin the new year in the Philippines as part of separate relief efforts in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan.
Dr. Brianna Wilson-who is working for the nondenominational evangelical Christian international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse in Haiti-plans to fly back to Hamilton for Christmas before heading to the Philippines on Dec. 28 for six weeks.
Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell, a Hamilton doctor who teaches at McMaster University, is already in the Philippines at a Canadian Red Cross field hospital. She has been in Ormoc, in the central part of the Philippines, since Dec. 6 and will return to Hamilton Jan. 3.
Both doctors are driven by a strong desire to use their medical expertise to help people in developing countries, but in Redwood-Campbell’s case there is an added reason: she teaches medical courses at McMaster about international health issues and feels it’s important to keep a hand in the real world.
“I think in order to be able to teach issues around poverty and health in the classroom you absolutely have to have experience in the field,” she said in a telephone interview from Ormoc. “If you don’t continue to have experience in the field, it becomes theoretical and academic.”
She said it will be hard being away from her family at Christmas.
“I have two children and I think it has been particularly difficult for my younger one. But I think they understand why I am here and what Christmas is really about-helping others and supporting people in need.”
Redwood-Campbell says she has been working 14- to 15-hour days, doing mostly obstetrics work, at a small hospital designed for 100 patients which often has to manage with double that on some days.
In the past, she has taken part in medical relief work in countries such as Indonesia, Rwanda, DRC (Congo), Kenya, Honduras, Bangladesh and Haiti.
“You see people who are suffering and need help and they are so very thankful,” she said. “You want to give back, give more and try hard.”
Wilson, in an interview by phone from Haiti, said she will be working with Samaritan’s Purse at “a mobile field hospital in the parking lot of hospital destroyed in the storm” in Tacloban, a city that suffered severe damage in the typhoon.
She will be providing emergency medical care at the makeshift hospital, at mobile clinics as well as travelling by helicopter to remote areas to give medical care.
Asked about her experiences in Haiti, she said “there are really tough days that you don’t know how you are going to get through it. But you manage.
“It’s not something they forced me to do. It is something I wanted to do. I guess I find strength in seeing lives changed through our help.”
For more information and to make a donation, visit the Samaritan’s Purse website.