Members of Burton Avenue United Church in Barrie, Ontario, were committed to raising funds for construction materials for a youth centre in Nicaragua, but they surpassed their goal. They then collected money for micro-enterprise loans for disadvantaged women, and again they received more than they required. The next project would be a Physician Travel Pack for a clinic in Managua. As the money kept coming in, one PTP became seven, and the team had added another purpose to their 12-day trip.
Hurricane Felix struck the north-east corner of Nicaragua on September 4, 2007. When the team arrived in October, the devastation was evident all along the coast. Entire villages were wiped off the map. Thousands of hectares of forests were flattened. The animals were gone. People’s livelihoods were gone. Thousands of homes, schools and churches were damaged.
Many countries sent help, but with little infrastructure there to begin with, and most of that obliterated, it was next to impossible to get the aid to the people.
Rains and floods followed the hurricane, adding water-borne diseases, including leptospirosis, to the plight of the people. Medicine from the PTPs would be used by the staff of the clinic, travelling along the coast, to treat these infections and other conditions that threatened to claim thousands of lives even after the initial crisis was past.
The mission of a group of 15 Canadian volunteers grew to include hundreds of people who donated money to fund their projects, the doctors and nurses at the clinic who give of their time to serve the poor, and all of the partners of HPIC who offer what they can to bring hope and healing to people who really need it.