SPECIAL GUEST BLOG: “We’re just happy to be here.”

Brad Moss is currently on the ground in Haiti with our NL team on their latest medical mission.

“We’re just happy to be here.” These words were spoken by the men of NASA in response to a question by the US media about being chosen as participants in the 1960s Mercury project.

Now those words apply to me. As a community-based volunteer, a regular working guy who joined Lions International 12 years ago, I feel like I’ve been asked to join the space program. I’m sure you can imagine the mild anxiety associated with a Lion joining a team of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals bound for Haiti for a week of hard work at an over-taxed hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince.

Fifteen months of preparation for the first Lions / Broken Earth vision mission has taught me that international relief missions are Herculean tasks. The teleconferences, the packing lists, the inoculations, the supplies, getting everything in a holding pattern at home and at work…it consumes you. Could I really contribute? Would I be accepted by these people with whom I share no professional affiliation?

I very quickly learned the answers to those questions are “yes” and “without question.”

Over the past four days our small team, consisting of Team Broken Earth liaison and human dynamo Meghan Gardner, the generous and jovial Lion Michael Foote, our dedicated and tireless Optometrists Lion (Dr.) Richard Buchanan and Dr. Trudy Metcalfe and myself have screened 448 Haitians for eye diseases and refractive errors. The vast majority have never seen an Optometrist in their lives. Two out of three people screened required a consult. Most of those required glasses from our supply. When we arrive in a yard full of people who have waited hours in the sun for just the chance of seeing an eye doctor there is no grief, no noise, only a stoic and hopeful “bonjour” as we file past to start our day.

The hours fly by, with no breaks, as we push ourselves to serve as many of them as possible. It all stops when you see the change in an 8 year old girl’s facial expression when she sees clearly for the first time ever. It’s unforgettable watching a teenage girl leave the yard as she repeatedly takes the glasses off and puts them on again – you couldn’t buy that feeling if you tried.

In the moment, these rewards are very short-lived. Soak it in and on to the next patient from Mike’s visual acuity queue. My role is to take portable auto-refractions and make a cluster of decisions with Mike about whether a referral to Rick and Trudy is necessary. Without their professional know-how none of this would be taking place.

Likewise, none of this would be taking place without the unequivocal support of the Lions of District N4 and our home Clubs in Portugal Cove – St. Philips, Old Perlican and Springdale, who’ve put their trust and hard – earned money into this cause.  To them, I say we are doing our level best here every day to represent the Lions of Newfoundland and Labrador.

This year, our International Lions President, Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada from Japan, chose the words Dignity, Humanity and Harmony as his motto for 2015. I can’t think of better words to describe the work the entire TBE/Lions group is aspiring to do here. I’ve never been prouder to be a Lion, and I know the same goes for Mike and Rick.

As for Broken Earth: as Lions we remain in awe of this remarkable homegrown humanitarian effort. Take it from me… they are doing our province and its people proud. My resolve to strengthen the partnership between our great organizations is steely. The collegiality, encouragement and recognition of our work by the medical team is appreciated more than any of them realize. I’m really not sure I’ve ever met more dedicated professionals in my life.  What an inspiring and fun group to be around. Without knowing it, they are exuding that motto of Dignity, Harmony and Humanity every waking minute.

Hey, we’re just happy to be here.

– Brad

6 Responses to “SPECIAL GUEST BLOG: “We’re just happy to be here.””

October 23 at 1:04 am, loretta metcalfe said:

There are no words to describe how proud we all of your efforts and of the tremendous difference you are all making in the lives of others. The difference you are making will last long after you are home, Safe travels!


October 23 at 5:39 am, bernielynne said:

Thanks for taking the time to post and let us know how your part of the team is doing. It is interesting to read your “non medical” aspect and how the trip has affected you. It’s an amazing thing you are all doing and you are definitely living by those words. Kudos to you all.


October 23 at 11:44 am, Roxane said:

What an awesome blog. As a nurse, each and every posting brings tears to my eyes. It is so great to see that Team Broken Earth is expanding and being accepted by so many, and as you can see (no pun intended), there are many needs in Haiti, that can be helped by so many—both medical and non-medical. Great job everyone, you make us proud, each and every day.


October 23 at 1:44 pm, Margie said:

So proud of the work that you are doing in Haiti! It renews my faith in human nature to see that you would give your time and energy to make a difference in so many lives.


October 23 at 3:09 pm, Cynthia said:

So proud of you, Brad, and your selfless dedication to making the world a better place.


October 24 at 2:14 am, janet fox-beer said:

Your humility is probably your ticket “in” with this team. You are no “regular guy” …and your foundation is solid for contributing to any mission anywhere. Glad that you are part of this village!


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