Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jacaranda Latrines

Connecting Countries: Adopt-A-School Project

When we send our children to school here in North America we have certain expectations. One simple fact of life we tend to take for granted is that our schools will have clean and functioning washroom facilities. So what if they didn’t? This is actually the case in many places around the globe.

FTC Canada partners with Connecting Countries and our goal has been to select certain schools in Kenya to ensure they have good quality washrooms facilities. The Jacaranda latrines were built through the summer of 2009 and the project was overseen by Feed The Children Kenya (FTC-K). A registered local contractor from carried out the construction work. The project included the following:

  • Two sets of three latrines for girls,
  • One set of three latrines for boys
  • One urinal for boys

Total cost for the installation was $6,150 (CAD). FTC-K officially presented the latrines to the Jacaranda School on October 16, 2009 in a short ceremony attended by the contractor and his crew, the school head teacher and the students.

Jacaranda’s head teacher voiced his gratitude to the Board of Directors at Connecting Countries:Adopt-A-School for their generosity, having provided the much needed sanitary facilities. Thanks was also extended to FTC-K and the contractor for a job well done.
In one voice the entire student population thanked their benefactors also offered thanks.

FTC-Canada is grateful for the partnership of FTC-K in completing this the second phase of the Adopt-A-School project. Three remaining schools slated for project development are Equator, Kibathi and Uiguano.

Equator School is the neediest in terms of sanitary standards. Public health authorities have threatened the school with closure. Plans are underway to address the needs at the Equator School; this is a priority.

Learn more about Connecting Countries: Adopt A School

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Medical-Dental Teams - El Salvador 2010

Plans are well underway for a return visit to El Salvador next February. This will be the first time we have taken our team back to the same country, having been in El Salvador in April 2009.

Our largest team ever (30 people) will leave on Saturday, February 13 and spend the following week treating up to 3,500 patients with primary medical and dental care. Based on a survey in early December by Dr. Tony Brown and Ken Dick, a decision will be made regarding the communities to be visited. We expect to return to some of the same communities visited in April 2009.

This team will consist of six doctors and four dentists, aided by paramedics, nurses, dental assistants, a pharmacist and several support staff. In addition, we will be joined by some of the Feed The Children staff based in El Salvador and Guatemala.

Over the next couple of months there will be a lot of activity – shipping a container from Guelph; purchase of medicines; arranging accommodation for the team; arranging in-country transportation and a number of other logistical things.

This will be our fifth project since we first went to Honduras in February 2007. Interest has increased, as more Canadians hear about what we are doing. Inquiries from doctors, dentists and others are received on a regular basis, most indicating an interest in being part of a future project.

On the subject of “future projects” - we will commence planning for our next project soon. A major decision is always, “where should we go?” Dr. Tony and I are travelling to Haiti in mid-November to scope out possibilities in that country. Watch for further updates.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Art Auction for Nyota

One of our exciting international partners in Kenya, the Nyota Home, has a fund raising initiative being held in Guelph ON, the location of the FTC Canada head office. We would encourage you to attend this event and support the work of the Nyota Home for children. Ticket information is shown below.

Nyota means “Star” in Swahili, and their goal is to provide Kenyan children education and love that will allow them to achieve their dreams and become stars! Nyota is totally dependent on private donations and through the support of FTC Canada, Canadians can receive a tax receipt for their donations.

Visit to learn more.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Hamilton, Ontario – Saturday, October 13, 2009 – FTC Canada partnered with Caravan Logistics Inc. and Hamilton Tiger Cat centre Marwan Hage and his community initiative, Hage’s Heroes, to provide food to 1,500 needy Hamilton families this past Thanksgiving weekend (Saturday October 10).

This has become an annual event for FTC Canada. In 2008 they provided food and supplies to 1000 families in the City of Hamilton. Marwan Hage stepped up, providing 1000 hams in 2008 to add to donations collected in partnership with numerous churches, businesses, companies and individuals.

This year Caravan Logistics joined the partnership and provided the logistics support for the day held at Ivor Wynn Stadium in Hamilton.

In addition to providing two 53’ trailers for transporting food from the FTC Canada warehouse in Guelph to Hamilton, Caravan also provide over 35 volunteers for the afternoon event hosted under tents at the outdoor stadium facility. Employees along with their families prepared for the event setting up tables and supplies, handed out food boxes and bread and carried the family food boxes to waiting vehicles.

Denis Iwaniura, Manager of Corporate Accounts for Caravan was really pleased with what his volunteer team could offer. “If we can offer a helping hand for 1500 families on Thanksgiving and it puts a smile on their face, then it’s good for everyone involved.”

Each family arriving to pick up boxes had received a voucher from one of 5 Hamilton agencies in attendance on Saturday. The 22+ pound food box contained such things as pasta, sauce, jam, peanut butter, crackers, popcorn, cereal and drink mix.

“We heard directly from families on Saturday that they were so grateful for the box of food” notes FTC Canada president, Ken Dick. “In some cases this helped supplement a Thanksgiving meal, for others this was the meal all together.”

This story was edited for publication in the Truck News. [October 19, 2009]

Learn more about the recent food drop in the City of Hamilton at

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Camp is over for another year

Mish Adventures 2009 came to a close on Thursday, July 30th with a community BBQ in the 10 Houses part of the reserve. Thanks to Diana and Robbie Bottle, we ended camp with a celebration of a meal with our good friends. It was wonderful to have Chief Connie join us along with many of the kids from 10 Houses that we spent time with for 3 weeks.

We learned a lot this year “flexibility” was the biggest lesson. Weather, school bus troubles and sickness caused us to learn to be ready for anything and to find a way to run the program with the kids regardless of the circumstances. We also learned, that as much as you can plan with a certain result in mind, things can change so much that if you just "go with the flow", the result can be so much better than you expected.

We will miss our friends in Mish - the greatest reward this summer – deeper friendships! Our lives have been changed because of the friendships developed with campers, parents and others in Mish. We are so thankful we had this opportunity.

Thanks to a great staff team – you are a ‘Dream Team’! Thanks to those behind the scenes who gave generously in so many ways. You made this a summer where lives were changed and seeds of hope were planted.

"Broken Walls" come to MISHKEEGOGAMANG

“Broken Walls” arrived with a big truckload of equipment ready to be introduced to our friends in Mish. We welcomed them with a community BBQ and introduced them to everyone present.

Jonathan Maracle and Bill Pagaran led seminars at the Peg Youth Conference from July 20-23rd. Kris Delorenzi, another member of the group, joined them as they performed twice for the community. It was wonderful to have Barry, Luane and Joelle Greene also join us for the three days. Their regalia and dance was a magnificent example of the beauty of the native culture that is missing in so many communities.

The most exciting part for us occurred when the concert ended and members of the community joined the boys on the pow wow drum for a time of drumming and singing. It was wonderful to sit and listen to their hearts as they expressed joy to their Creator.

Sky Hedricks from Eagles Cry in Thunder Bay also joined the team. It was very moving to hear the story of his life’s journey. It was inspiring to the whole Mish camp staff team to watch Sky make the kids feel special.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 2 Report

Thursday, July 16, 2009

As predicted the weather today was very rainy and unseasonably cold so we were not able to operate the camp program. This is simply because we don’t have access to indoor facilities as planned.

We occupied the time planning some events for the Youth Conference next week. This included cleaning the home that our guest music group, Broken Walls will be using next week and we baked several loaves of bread for us and members of the community.

Broken Walls is a band led by Jonathan Maracle, a Mohawk from Tyendinaga Territory in Ontario. The band performs a fusion of aboriginal and contemporary styles of music (

We are hopeful the weather will clear up tomorrow so that we can get back to spending time the community children. If it rains again tomorrow, we will run a program for the children on both Saturday and Sunday to make up for the lost days during the week. Right now it is promising to be a genuine summer weekend - complete with sun!

Camp has Begun

Tuesday, July 14

We have arrived in a Mishkeegogamang community busily preparing for an election. Unfortunately this planned event has led to some unplanned disruptions and a lack of access to facilities on the reserve.

In an effort to adapt, in the first week of camp we divided our team in two and sent them out to the larger wide-open areas on either end of the reserve to operate camp near the children’s homes.

Our school bus has not been available, but we hope it will be ready for next week so we can resume regular activities at the school. The school has not been available, as planned either.

The weather has been great and we’ve had about 15-22 kids in each camp area. We have opted to run sports, games, crafts and, under the circumstances, everything has gone remarkably well. Unfortunately, because we have no indoor facilities, we will not be able to operate camp if it rains. Tonight there is a storm developing that is predicted to last for 36 hours once it starts. We can only hope the forecast is incorrect.

Many of the children remember us from last year and are definitely excited that we have returned this summer. It’s great to build these relationships as children get older.

We drove 24 hours to Mish, encountered a few challenges when we arrived but what a privilege it is to able to give these children some ‘fun in the sun’ for a few hours each day!

Camp Staff Training

Muskoka Woods located in Rosseau, ON generously hosted the FTC Canada staff team during their own camp training session at the end of June.

This was the first time the Mish staff were together in the same location. We spent time getting to know each other and learning how to function as a team. We also enjoyed perfect weather, great food, wonderful facilities, and a chance to make new friends.

Considerable energy was invested in learning about the history of our First Nations. There was a focus on issues that they are currently dealing with and time spent learning specifically about the community of Mishkeegogamang; our ultimate destination in July.

Our time together in Muskoka unified us quickly and we are confident an excellent team has been put together for this summer’s camp in Mish. The team developed the following mission statement to help keep us focused as we serve together at Mish:

2009 summer Camp Mission statement:

To be enthusiastic role models while developing trusting and selfless relationships that teach the campers that anything is possible!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Scugog helping hands stretch to foreign land" by Dr. Steve Russell (printed in the Port Perry Star)
"From Scugog to the slums of El Salvador" by Dr. Steve Russell (printed in the Port Perry Star).
Check out this story about Dr. Cross and his team (printed in the Milton Canadian Champion):


Every medical-dental trip inevitably involves a camera (certainly more than one) and a high quality video camera.

On the first trip to Honduras we were fortunate to have a camera person with 25 years experience! The result was terrific footage of the team in action. On this last team trip to El Salvador, we had another experienced camera person so we acquired good footage and were able to create the following video:

The video and an accompanying slide show are give to the team members at a reunion event. The most recent reunion was held in Port Perry, ON on June14th. A considerable number of our team professionals reside in "The Port".

Please look for new posts about future team trips ... and thank you for partnering with us.

Check out more videos from FTC Canada at YouTube!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Volunteer of the Year Award

FTC Canada received special recognition from Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win, North-South Partnership for Children. FTC was presented Volunteer of the Year honours in recognition of valuable contributions and dedication to First Nations Communities.

On hand to receive the award were FTC First Nations Coordinator, Karen Ward and the President of FTC, Ken Dick.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Tiger-Cats CFLPA all-star offensive lineman Marwan Hage is teaming up with FTC Canada (Feed The Children) Wednesday May 27 to provide 680 family food boxes to needy families.

See the full article at:

Marwan Hage teams up with FTC Canada

HAMILTON -- Tiger-Cats CFLPA all-star offensive lineman Marwan Hage is teaming up with FTC Canada (Feed The Children) to provide 680 family food boxes to needy families in partnership with Sun Youth Organization, a downtown Montreal community centre serving youth, seniors and low income families and people with special needs. Hage also plans to donate $3000.00 from his Hages Heroes program towards Sun Youth's youth football program which will enable participants play free of charge.

See the full article at


Montreal, QC - Monday, May 26, 2009 – FTC Canada (Feed The Children) is providing 680 family food boxes to needy families in downtown Montreal on Wednesday May 27. This is in partnership with Sun Youth Organization, a downtown community centre serving youth, seniors and low income families and people with special needs.

FTC Canada is also partnering with Keltic Transportation Inc. (Moncton NB) for the food drop into the heart of downtown Montreal. New Brunswick driver, Kevin Desilva, saw a story about the need for transporting the food boxes in the Owner-Operators Independent Business Association (OOIDA) newsletter. The story had originally appeared at Today’s

Desilva called FTC Canada and threw his support behind transporting the food in his own truck from Guelph to Montreal.

The final partnership came from Marwan Hage, former Sun Youth participant and CFL Centre for the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Marwan will be on hand to greet families and to hand out boxes. Hage who grew up in Montreal, credits Sun Youth for keeping him out of jail and off the streets when he was a kid.

FTC Canada partners with organizations and companies to provide food and supplies to those in need throughout Canada. The food boxes going to Montreal contain over 22 pounds of nutritious, non-perishable food - enough to feed a family of 4 for 3-4 days.

Recipients are identified by local social service organizations and receive a food voucher which they redeem at the event.

Check out Marwan Hage at

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Best of El Salvador

The El Salvador Medical-Dental project was my first with FTC Canada, and my first experience visiting a developing country in this way. At first concerned about what services I, a person with no medical or dental training could offer (I later learned that there a many things that a person who wants to help can do, no matter what their skills), I was pleased to be asked to document the trip with photographs, videos and blog entries.

Leading up to the trip, I tried to prepare myself for what I imagined I might experience. I thought that I would probably see a lot of things that would make me very sad, things that would disturb and upset me, and things that would make me feel very guilty about the privileges and opportunities I have as a Canadian.

I was wrong.

I did see things that made me very sad. I did hear stories that disturbed me, like that of the young woman who suffered extensive keloid scarring after her husband drunkenly took a knife to her many years ago. I did feel guilty, after being invited into a woman’s hut in Somalia, and saw how very, very little she had. Her experience is so far removed from my own that it took several minutes for the level of poverty she lives in to actually register for me. When it did, I was overcome.

So yes, in these very poor communities, there is sadness, and there is suffering, and there is loss, but I was wrong in the fact that more than all of these things, there is love.

I saw a tremendous amount of love in the way Marcos, an 87 year-old woman, walked for hours in order to seek medical care for her adopted son who was unable to walk the distance himself due to his cerebral palsy. I saw love in the community centre in Amayito, run by a woman named Virginia who dedicated herself to providing an oasis of safety and education in a violent, gang-ridden area. I saw love in the orphanage in Remar, where children removed from abusive environments were given a safe, happy home in which to grow and flourish, and to know and share love.

I saw love in mothers and fathers holding their children. I saw love in the smiles and laughter of the people we met who have nothing but each other, and still are thankful.

And I saw love, compassion and care from every single member of the Medical-Dental team.

The morning before our first clinic, Ken Dick spoke briefly to the team about how it was our job, above all, to be a beacon of light and hope for the people we met, through the care and compassion we gave them. What I have learned on this project is that they were also a beacon of light and hope for us, in their tremendous capacity to love.

I saw a little bit of the worst of El Salvador, but I believe that more importantly I saw much of the best. I feel honored to have been invited to witness and document these great moments of love.

About Julie Puckrin
Julie Puckrin is a Canadian film and television writer, living in Vancouver BC. A frequent guest lecturer at the Vancouver Film School, her credits include work in reality television, animation, and short film.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saturday April 25, 2009 – Day 5 Clinic

Somalia is a slum. It is a collection of 750 families, living in huts made from any combination of scavenged metal, wood or canvas, in an inner city squat in San Salvador. Some families are fortunate enough to have 10 by 10 feet huts with some basic furniture and electricity stolen from the city. Others have significantly less; sometimes only a small pallet on the floor for the whole family, in less than 4 by 6 feet of space, with no electricity, windows, water, or washroom facilities.

Their story is a sad one. Some time ago, a man claiming to be the landowner came to Somalia offering to sell the families the land their huts were on for $15 USD each. Hopeful to be landowners, many managed to scrape this significant amount of money together. After paying, they discovered that the man was not the landowner at all, and that they had devastatingly lost their hard-earned money to a con artist. He fled and was never found.

Today was a very difficult day for the team, both physically and emotionally. Physically, medical, dental, pharmacy and distribution were set up outside under tarps in the few open spaces to be found in between huts; having to rely on a gas generator to power the dental clinic. At one point, ominous clouds and thunder threatened to cut the dayshort. Emotionally, the team was overcome by the extreme poverty we were witnessing, and many of us had to take a moment to pause, to collect ourselves and continue on.

We met Alex, a 34 year-old man with a bullet still lodged in his head from the civil war. He requires anti-convulsive drugs daily. We met Mercedes, a 23 year-old woman with a rare allergy to the sun. Any area of her skin exposed to the sun becomes swollen, dry, painful and split. Her face and hands have the scars from suffering this condition her entire life.

There was also Dorotea, a 46 year-old woman whose right leg never developed properly, and is significantly shortened and misshapen. When Dorotea was 14, she fell and broke her good leg; after surgery to repair it, she developed gangrene and had to have it amputated below the knee. Today we were able to treat her for parasites and an infection, and also to make her a little more comfortable in an unexpected way. The tops of her plastic crutches were extremely hard and hurt her under her arms. We were able to modify her crutches with carefully wrapped layers of bandages and gauze to provide padding. She was very happy.

But perhaps the patient we were most affected by was Maria, a 52 year-old woman who came to see the dentist. After having a tooth extracted, Maria became faint, dizzy and was shaking. At first doctors thought this was due to an untreated blood pressure problem and heat exhaustion. Upon further investigation we discovered that moments before having her tooth extracted, Maria had learned that her 10 year-old grandson had been shot in a drive-by gang shooting, and was currently at the hospital in surgery.

Today’s clinic in Somalia was the final day of the FTC Canada 2009 El Salvador project. The medical and dental teams saw a staggering 889 people today. In four trips to Central America, over a period of two years, FTC Canada has provided care for over 12, 600 people.

After a long, tiring, often emotional but always rewarding week, these numbers remind us why such trips to countries in need are so very important. And so very much appreciated.

[About the El Salvador Blog: Julie Puckrin was a member of the team to El Salvador and contributed the photos and blog entries throughout the week.]

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday April 24, 2009 – Clinic Day 4

Today the team traveled to Remar, an orphanage which is home to 90 children, aged 18 months to 16 years old. While some of these children are orphans, many still have living parents or family members, and are living in the orphanage because they have been removed from abusive homes.

The orphanage is truly an amazing place. The intent was to create an environment that feels like a home rather than an institution. The nursery, boys’ and girls’ dormitories are all situated like cozy bedrooms; each child’s bed is crowded with stuffed animals and toys. All 90 children eat together in a large family dining room, the larger children helping the smaller ones.

The majority of the food they eat has been donated, and is prepared by the 6 adult care-givers who live with them. The children share chores like sweeping and laundry, and attend a school built especially for them.

We were greeted by a swarm of affectionate children upon our arrival, and the most common and satisfying medicine dispensed by far was hugs, cuddles and smiles.

Today’s clinic was open to all members of the community. Sergio, a 5 year-old boy in a wheelchair, came to see the doctor with his mother. When Sergio was 5 months old, he contracted meningitis, and began having seizures. He eventually had a stroke, leaving the entire left side of his body paralyzed. His mother, a single mom who lives with Sergio’s grandmother and makes her living selling tea from their home, was able to find a wheelchair, but it is old and broken. She cannot afford Sergio’s medication. We were able to help her today with free medicine.

Later we met Joana, a 49 year-old single mother of six children. Her 72 year-old mother was recently hit by car, leaving her bedridden and in need of constant care. Joana cares for her mother and her children in a two-room house, but has lately begun to experience dizziness, fainting and angina pain. The team was very concerned with her symptoms, and FTC Canada is arranging for her to receive an ECG in San Salvador to determine whether she requires a pacemaker. This would be an expensive undertaking for the family.

Finally, 16 year-old Ernesto came to the clinic hoping to have his teeth checked by a dentist. Upon examination, Dr. Jack realized that Ernesto is literally tongue-tied; his tongue is webbed to the bottom of his mouth. This greatly hindered his ability to speak; in Canada, such a condition would be addressed at birth and never affect the child. Ernesto has had to suffer with this his entire life. In less than ten minutes, Dr. Jack was able to perform a simple procedure to correct this hinderance and completely change young Ernesto’s life. He was extremely happy to receive this unexpected but greatly appreciated gift.

Thursday April 23, 2009

The main objective of the El Salvador 2009 project is to bring medical and dental care to communities in need. There are many components necessary to support the provision of that care.

Every morning the team hauls 18 large bins of medications to the day’s site. Over the course of 5 clinic days, this traveling pharmacy will dispense 42,000 vitamins; chewable for children and tablets for adults, and almost as much medication for parasites. Doctors, nurses and paramedics have access to 67 different medications to treat their patients. The list of medications dispensed in the pharmacy has been carefully chosen to reflect the needs in the area, but is also based on the availability of these medications in the host country. It is important that any medication prescribed during these clinics, particularly ones to meet long-term needs such as blood pressure medication, can be procured locally after the team has left.

Part of providing care is providing nourishment for the body and mind. Each clinic day, a distribution centre dispenses food packages containing enough lentils and Vitameal, a highly nutritious and fortified food product, to feed an entire family. Every family that sees the medical or dental team receives a food package. Families are also given such necessities as shoes, clothing and undergarments. Small things that provide a huge amount of joy are children’s toys, especially stuffed animals and soccer balls. Many of the items we are able to dispense have been donated directly to FTC Canada to be distributed to communities in need.

Every team member has donated their time to be here.  Some have brought their own equipment along with them as well. Every team member covers the cost of their own travel and accommodation. Even so, the team requires additional, often costly support materials. Occasionaly, a clinic must be built from scratch, requiring crews to haul in items like tarps, tables, chairs and generators. Every site must have hundreds of bottles of clean, drinkable water and portable washrooms to keep the team functional.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is the local support team. The Medical-Dental team from Canada is comprised of 24 people. There are an additional 26 FTC Central American employees and volunteers who are vital in our efforts to bring care to areas in need. We could not do this work without the help of local doctors, dentists, interpreters, security, administration and registration staff.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 – Day 3 Clinic

Unlike the isolated, impoverished rural villages of our first two clinics, Anayito is a crime-ridden, urban area. Many of the people living here were displaced by such traumatic events as civil war, earthquakes, volcanoes and natural disasters. With nowhere else to go, a community of 380 families was created, with another 90 families living nearby as squatters. They are extremely poor. Most people in Amayito make their living as garbage collectors.

Our trip during the day was safe as we had our security escort but by night this area is considered dangerous. Violent crimes – shootings and robberies – are a nightly occurrence. Gangs are prevalent, many recruiting boys as young as 10 years old.

In the centre of it all is Virginia. Now 48 years old, Virginia was adopted as a baby by a loving middle class couple. She experienced an extremely caring upbringing. When Virginia learned at age 14 that she had been adopted, she realized how lucky she was to have grown up in such a loving, safe environment, and that many children were not so fortunate. It became her goal in life to give to others the gifts that she had been given.

Virginia has run the community center in Anayito for 12 years. She works to provide families in the area with a safe, loving environment where they can receive food and education. She feeds 150 children lunch, three times a week and strives to empower them with knowledge. Her efforts to create a compassionate oasis in the midst of such a violent area are immediately felt upon entering the center, where our medical-dental team set up today’s clinic.

While Virgina’s community center provides respite during the day, families often fear for their safety in their homes at night. Our doctors met many patients suffering from a high level of anxiety.

As Dr. Tony aptly said, there is no medicine we can give that will take that anxiety away. What the team could do though was share a moment of empathy, provide comfort, a hug, and a smile, to let the people of this community know that they are not alone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 – Day 2 Clinic

This morning the team made the two-hour journey to San Juan Buena Vista. One of the first patients we saw was an 83 year-old woman who had lived there her entire life; she remarked that this was the first time doctors had ever come to the community. She was very grateful.

San Juan Buena Vista is an interesting case. The village is fortunate enough to be relatively close to a new medical clinic, recently built through donated funds. Unfortunately, there was not enough money to staff the clinic, and so it is not operational.

An invaluable component of FTC Canada’s projects is the dental clinic. An average family of 10 in rural El Salvador collectively earns about $80 USD per month. A visit to the dentist for one person for a simple cleaning costs around $40. Understandably, many of the patients we saw today had never been to a dentist.

With so little access to dental care, extractions are a large part of what our team does. Dr. Mark commented that he performed around 40 extractions today, as compared to his practice in Canada, where he performs perhaps one extraction per week. Some patients had to have as many as 8 teeth pulled in one sitting.

But what is so impressive about what FTC Canada’s dental teams are able to accomplish on these projects is not how many teeth they remove, but how many they are able to restore! One 19 year-old man visited us very upset. He had broken off the lower third of one of his teeth, and naturally assumed it would have to be pulled. He was very anxious about losing a tooth. Dr. Jack was able to not only save the tooth, but also to cosmetically alter it to look as though it had never been broken, allowing the young man to keep his beautiful smile. He was simply ecstatic.

Our dental team arrives at every site an hour before the rest of the group, in order to set up the large amount of equipment necessary to provide such care. Even with extra time taken to accomodate such extensive build-up and tear-down of equipment, there is often more demand than our dental team can meet. Patients are often reluctantly turned away as it begins to get dark, and it becomes unsafe for us to continue. Today, our dental team was able to see every single patient.

Our medical team were also able to see every single patient. Some particularly interesting cases included Rosa, a four year-old girl with such a bad heart murmur, she is only the size of a two year-old. FTC Canada was pleased to be able to arrange for her to travel to San Salvador to receive an echocardiogram, which will determine what further treatment she requires.

We also saw Rosalina, an 11 year-old girl who has had a large piece of pencil lead lodged in her forehead for 3 years. It is innocuous, but she loves soccer, and the lead makes it hurts to hit the ball with her head. Dr. Elizabeth once again scrubbed up and removed the lead, helping Rosalina to continue her soccer career pain-free.

Perhaps the case that most affected the team today though was that of Marcos and Roberto. Marcos is an 87 year-old woman who walked several hours to come to the clinic today. She hoped a doctor would be able to come to her home to see her son, Roberto, who has cerebral palsy and was unable to make such a journey. Dr. Paul happily obliged with a house call.

Roberto is not Marcos birth son. When he was only two days old, his birth mother, seeing his disability, did not want him. With no family of her own, Marcos happily took him in. Roberto is now 43 years old and although she is so poor and can often only afford to feed him tortillas and salt, it is a testament to Marcos’ loving care that Roberto has thrived. Dr. Paul treated both Marcos and Roberto for parasites, fevers and colds.

Monday, April 20, 2009 – Day 1 Clinic

At 7:30am this morning, the team wound their way up a mountain via a steep, narrow dirt road towards El Cedro, a small community clinging to the side of a cliff. El Cedro is home to approximately 800 families, each of which typically consists of 10 to 12 people. One of the first patients the medical staff met was a young woman who had 15 children.

Most families in the area are farmers, the primary crop being coffee. The average family of 10 people collectively earn around $80 USD per month.

The nearest medical services to El Cedro are more than two hours away by bus, so there was understandably great excitement for FTC Canada’s visit. Several of the children were dressed in their finest to see the medical staff, and many were receiving their first ever check-up.

The 2009 El Salvador project is fortunate to have 12 medical personnel; doctors, nurses and paramedics. While almost every patient expressed much gratitude for the clinic, some patients were more profoundly affected by the team’s visit.

13 year-old Erica has slowly been losing her hearing for over a year. It has become so debilitating that she has failed her school year. Dr. Tony examined her ears but was unable to see any sign of damage, leading him to suspect neurological damage. The only way to diagnose this would be for Erica to travel to San Salvador and undergo expensive testing. FTC Canada was very pleased to be able to arrange to pay for her to receive that testing.

Juan Antonio suffered from a benign lipoma, essentially a large collection of fat on his ribcage about the size of a tangerine. He was unable to afford to have the growth removed. Dr. Elizabeth and the team quickly scrubbed up to perform minor surgery and successfully removed the growth, much to Juan Antonio’s relief.

35 year-old Evelio was walking home at night when thieves attempted to rob him. He fought back but during the fight he was unfortunately shot in the foot. He was lucky that the bullet passed through cleanly, but a month later, his wound still hadn’t healed. Paramedic Christine was able to treat him with much-needed antibiotics and a fresh dressing.

With over 600 patients seen this day, the FTC Canada 2009 El Salvador Project is off to a great start. All the team’s members are eager to continue in this spirit and see even more patients tomorrow.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday April 19, 2009

Today was the first real opportunity for new and experienced team members to get acquainted and begin planning for the first of five clinics that will start bright and early at 7:30 tomorrow morning.

Each day, the FTC Canada medical-dental team will bus to a different village and set up a project site. Project sites may be set up in a local school or even an open field. Facilities with roofs and electricity may be available, or the team may have to set up under tarps and bring in gas-powered generators to run the dental equipment.

Locations are selected during a scouting trip months in advance and are based on a variety of criteria, not the least of which is a communities need. Each clinic has several components, all working in tandem: patient registration, medical care, dental care, a pharmacy, and a distribution centre which dispenses food and supplies such as clothing, shoes, toys and undergarments.

The needs at each clinic are different, and every country and even every individual site within a country provides unique challenges and learning opportunities for the teams. This requires a lot of flexibility, and often creativity. One of the great strengths of the teams is their ability to constantly evolve to meet the needs of their patients, and the willingness to always seek solutions and opportunities to hone their process to deliver better, more efficient care.

The entire 2009 El Salvador Medical-Dental Team is eager to officially kick off the project’s first clinic, early tomorrow morning!

Saturday April 18, 2009

Months of preparation culminated in a sleepy but excited 6:30am gathering at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport this morning. All 24 members of FTC Canada's 2009 El Salvador Medical-Dental Mission assembled, bags loaded with supplies and donations, eager to embark on a week-long journey to bring primary medical and dental care to needy families in five rural El Salvador villages.

FTC Canada President, Ken Dick and Medical Team Advisor Dr. Tony Brown and the FTC crew seamlessly orchestrated the day’s travel; we arrived safely in the country’s capital, San Salvador, to an enthusiastic welcome. There is a feeling of great excitement for this particular trip. This is the first time an FTC medical-dental team has come to El Salvador in over 10 years. Hopes for the care we can provide here are high.

The team arrived at our hotel by 2:00 pm local time, and quickly began the tedious task of pre-packing thousands of children’s chewable vitamins into individually bagged doses. In addition to any prescribed medications they may require, each patient visiting the clinic will receive 30 days worth of vitamins. All of the supplies must be prepped before heading out into the villages.

There are both new and familiar faces on this year’s team. Sunday will provide an opportunity for all the team members to meet each other and receive orientation as we prepare for the week of clinics ahead.

Monday, March 30, 2009

In The News

The "In The News" section of our main website is often overlooked.

We live in an information driven age and 73% of North American adults presently use the Internet to find ... research and compare ... before supporting a business or organization.

There can not be a much better way to "discover" what we do than through press releases and stories picked up in the news.

Click here to learn more!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Staff Applications: UPDATE

Due to the positive response to the application process for serving on the 2009 Mish Adventure Camp Staff Team, we are no longer accepting applications.  

Thank you for your interest in serving on this years team.  Please check back in November for the 2010 Camp Staff Application forms.

Friday, March 13, 2009


It is just six months since we returned from a successful project in Nicaragua!

Even before we completed that amazing mission, plans were being laid for our journey to El Salvador. Although you may not be part of the team traveling to this Central American country of approximately seven million people, we want you to be part of the experience through this blog.

We will be reporting from El Salvador after our arrival on April 18, 2009. We hope to provide you with daily blog updates. But, let me share with you some of our plans.

Our twenty-four member Canadian team will be comprised of four doctors and two dentists, assisted by several paramedics, nurses, dental assistants and other support staff. Joining us from El Salvador will be another fifteen people, including two local doctors and three local dentists. Add to this several translators, and you have a large, dedicated team ready to bring medical and dental treatment to children and families in El Salvador.

Working out of our central location in the city of San Salvador, we will travel to five communities in great need. Our goal will be to treat over 3,000 children and adults. What do they need? They need primary medical and dental care, food and other supplies, and they need to know that somebody cares about them.

While we are in each neighbourhood we will distribute medicine, food and clothing, and a SMILE, and lots of HUGS! A special program will be provided for the children, including games, songs and crafts.

Excitement is increasing within the team as we prepare for the mission. We also know that the sites are preparing for our visit. Blog reports will be coming from the following locations:
El Cedro
San Juan Buena Vista
Going to El Salvador and accomplishing amazing things for the children and families in that country would not be possible with out two major things:
1. the dedication and commitment of our team;
2. the support of our friends who provide funds and supplies.

Thank you and watch for further updates.

Ken Dick,
President – FTC Canada

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Trip To Mish

Update on First Nations Programs

March 2009 – A Trip to Mish.

Joey and Andrew Wesley are two Mish Adventure campers from the community of Mishkeegogmang. This winter their family narrowly escaped a devastating fire that destroyed their home and everything they owned. Suffering from smoke inhalation and second degree burns, many family members present in the home that day were truly lucky to be alive.

Remains of the Wesley home

The Chief of the community expressed sadness as she recounted the story. It would be hard for the family in the days ahead. A replacement home was not on the horizon and the family was separated throughout the community finding refuge where they could.

As Mish Adventure camp staff and friends of FTC Canada learned of the disaster, there was an inspiring, outpouring of love and compassion. Our Guelph warehouse received beds, mattresses, bedding, clothing, small appliances, a kitchen table, chairs and dishes. The supplies were quickly loaded with our regular shipment of food heading north.

It was a joy to be able to personally deliver these items directly to a “new” home made available to them in the area. The empty house was filled with the goods and supplies from FTC and the grateful family of twelve (including one new baby).

While we were unloading the truck, a group of Mish Adventure campers came by on a sled and stopped to help. It was a great occasion and they were excited to hear that we would be coming back in July to run the Mish Adventures Camp again.

In Pickle Lake we helped put together pallets of Kraft dinner, cereal, canned grapes, cookies, snacks, and many other items for 27 reserves in the far north. This was two days of work in a local warehouse with help from two young people from the Mish community. We stacked and labeled pallets and prepared the supplies for the trip up the famous ice roads north of Pickle Lake.

Thanks to the staff from Tikinagan Child & Family Services, Wasaya Airlines in Pickle Lake as well as all the volunteers from Mishkeegogmang.

FTC Canada values our partners. One plus one equals hope, happiness and relief for our friends in Mish and many other Northern Ontario First Nation Communities.

Karen Ward
First Nations Program Coordinator

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2009 First Nations Camp Staff Application

Please use the following links to find the 2009 First Nations Camp Staff Application and Camp Staff Information document.

For more information contact:
Karen Ward
First Nations Program Coordinator
1-877-382-2262 ext. 232

Friday, January 2, 2009

Flying North

The President of FTC Canada and the First Nations Program Coordinator made a flying trip up north in December. Thunder Bay, Pickle Lake and Mishkeegogmang were among the stops in a 24 hour period.

CAMP IN 2009
Christmas cards and Candy Canes were dropped off at the school in Mish for all the campers who attended our ‘Mish Adventures’ Camp last summer. It was great to see children in the school hallways who said, “I know you. Are you coming back in the summer?”

It was great to be able to say “YES”. We will be back to operate our third year of Mish Adventures from July 13 – 30th, 2009. We are all very excited!

In Pickle Lake, we met with Tom Morris, the President of Wasaya Airlines. He has generously offered to donate warehouse space in Pickle Lake and assistance through his staff at that airport.

We will now be able to ship more supplies and goods to reservations in the north, having overcome the space deficit we have experienced for 3 years. It is more convenient to fly cargo from this airport, as it allows for more frequent distribution of supplies to the many communities requiring assistance.

Thank you to Wasaya Airlines and our friends at Tikinagan Child and Family Services for making this happen.

2009 Update

As winter settles deeply in the north, our First Nations friends have to deal with different issues and needs. Most children are back in school and, if available, involved in winter programs. Hockey is a very popular sport in the north and we are approached by many communities with requests for hockey equipment.

Through the passion and desire to help of one hockey mom, many children in the north will be playing hockey this winter. Jackie Jones, from Ancaster, Ontario, has raised awareness of the needs in the north and has hockey associations and sports stores very interested in helping out. Read the article from the Ancaster News at

FTC has shipped two truckloads north - one in October and one in December – for distribution to 30 communities in Northern Ontario. The goods shipped have included:

  • Juice and Food
  • Hockey equipment and soccer balls
  • Toys and Computers
  • Blankets and knitted afghans
  • Mittens, scarves, hats and sweaters
Thanks to the many donors who helped to secure these items
(Jackie Jones, North-South Partnership, Friends of Tikinagan Child and Family Services, Sheridan College)

Reflections on 2008

It’s hard to believe that over a month has passed since our team returned to Canada from Nicaragua. We are thankful for no sickness and total safety for our team during the eight days in this very needy country. We did have one frightening incident when our country director was kidnapped at gunpoint when our rental truck was stolen. He was able to escape by leaping from the back of the truck when it slowed for a curve in the road.

Reflecting on this mission, how blessed we are to be able to reach out with primary medical and dental care to over 3,000 children and families. Each clinic day we enjoyed the smiles on the faces of children when they received toys; the pleased and thankful expressions from mothers and fathers as we handed them parcels of food and clothing and shoes. The smiles and the word “gracias” will remain with all of us for a long time.

It is impossible for me to express my thanks in a meaningful way to our team. How do you say “thanks” to people who have given eight days of their lives to help others? The sacrifice made by our doctors, dentists, nurses, paramedics, school teachers, office workers and more.

I’m thankful for our Guatemalan staff that traveled many hours to be with us. It was not without its challenges – an overturned truck and many, many police checkpoints which delayed them several hours.

Our arrival at Toronto airport was a memorable end to the project. When I heard my name called over the PA system in the baggage area, I thought, “they probably lost my luggage”. That was not the problem – they had lost all our luggage – 32 pieces! Can you picture 28 of us standing around the luggage carousel wondering why we are the only ones from our flight still “standing around the carousel”? Well, we were told the luggage was still in San Salvador. It has not been transferred to our connecting flight. The good news – everyone received their bags four days later.

We never expect everything to go perfectly. You can become very frustrated about things that go wrong during the “heat of battle”, but on reflection, once you have time to relax and think about what was accomplished, you still feel a strong sense of having done a good thing. And we did!

Within days of our return we began to plan our next trip. Watch our site to be kept up to date on our mission to El Salvador in April 2009.

Thank you to all who have supported us in this project. We could not impact so many lives without your involvement. What we are doing is without a doubt “a team effort”.

Ken Dick