Travelling beyond the North American borders for the first time, Lisa Brooking became ill.
She was with the Team Canada cross-country team at the Pan American cross-country championships in Venezuela last year, and was one of several athletes who became sick immediately following the competition. It required a three-day hospital stay upon returning to Canada.
The experience was an eye-opener, especially considering that Brooking works as a critical care nurse.
“I got violently ill there and realized what health care is like outside of Canada and for countries that have very limited resources,” she explained.
“It was a reality shock for me.”
Brooking decided should she travel again for competition, she would find a way to help.
Her first opportunity came over the weekend as Brooking represented Canada, this time as part of the senior women’s national team at the world championships in Kampala, Uganda.
“I just wanted to be mindful that for every team I am on, (when) we go to a country that is less fortunate than ours, we should be giving back,” she said.
So for the past six months, Brooking — who currently works at Peace Arch Hospital — has collected medical supplies for donation.
The Canadian coaching staff was able to arrange a visit with both TASO and the local hospital and Brooking said it was obvious the donations were much needed and would be put to good use. The head nurse gave Brooking a crash course in the inter-working of emergency front-line care in Kampala’s busiest hospital.
“This experience was an exceptional opportunity as it served as a glimpse into a window of a health care system so distant from our own,” Brooking explained. “At the heart of it, I am a nurse (and) I want to make a meaningful difference.
“The opportunity to deliver a hockey bag full of medical supplies to a wonderful group of people was a heartwarming experience.”