Western aid overseas
By Dave Yasvinski
Two Western physicians and a masters student leave for the hurricane-ravaged Honduras today, as part of a six-person relief team.
The idea to make the trip grew out of the efforts of Carolina Vidal, a masters epidemiology student and her husband Cam Kowalski to make a difference here at home.
"Originally we had the idea to help these people in some way, so we came up with a food drive. Then we decided to see it through, to see the things arrive [in Honduras]," he said.
Kowalski, a Strathroy police officer, explained his wife was trained as a doctor in Honduras and wanted the opportunity to help her own people. He added Vidal intends to try to establish contacts in Honduras to ensure continuing aid.
"She wants to set up ongoing support through the university and one of the hospitals down there. We'll have to judge what we can do when we get down there," he said.
Fabian Gorodzinsky, associate professor of pediatrics at Western, said he responded to a general email last week from Vidal, requesting help from physicians. "There is a duty as a physician we're in the profession that we care for people. This is an opportunity to show it."
Gorodzinsky said he will spend his week in the Honduran village of Raitoca with Dave McCormack, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, helping out the village's one physician who is extremely overwhelmed. Vidal and her husband will spend the week in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.
Gorodzinsky added the outpouring of support from the community has been fantastic, especially from Robert Rice, financial consultant for Rice, Krimmer & Peaker.
Rice said he heard Vidal and her husband were having trouble raising money for the trip to Honduras, so he booked the flight and paid for the trip for the two of them. After this, his involvement continued in making the hotel arrangements for the team in Toronto where they are to catch their flight.
"My wife and I did extensive travelling and ran into extensive poverty. I understand the suffering they go through without this devastation. It's a way to give something back," he said.
Rice declined the invitation to go to Honduras with the team, but said he admires their courage. "These guys are pretty heroic. They have no idea what's going to meet them. I wanted to go but didn't know how I could help.
"I'm sure they'll be saving hundreds of lives it's unbelievable."