Perth County paramedic returns from Antigua, ready to continue relief work
Nadine Balint was in Antigua between Nov. 5 and 12 as part of a relief effort mission
Nadine Balint was sitting in her living room sipping on a cup of coffee when she saw news of Hurricane Irma unfold. That's when she decided she wanted, somehow, to help.
As luck would have it, Balint and her husband had booked a trip to Antigua and Barbuda with a couple of friends a week before the Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean.
But rather than cancel her trip, she decided to take that opportunity to be part of a relief effort.
- 'We need to help': Montrealers collect supplies for hurricane-ravaged Barbuda
- Barbuda 'reduced to rubble' by Hurricane Irma, PM says
"Watching the news, while I'm trying to book excursions ... I saw the devastation, and it was like 'Oh my goodness. Well, we are not cancelling our trip at this point,'" she told CBC's The Morning Edition before she left for Antigua on Nov. 5.
With the help of the Perth County Paramedic Service Balint collected relief items like toiletries, blankets and school supplies and medical supplies and equipment.
All that resulted in her taking an additional 12 bags to Antigua.
Time in Antigua
Balint said people from Barbuda and the Dominica are taking refuge in Antigua, many still waiting to hear if they can go back home.
Upon her return, Balint said she was amazed to see how helpful the community was towards one another and how welcoming they were to her — despite the hardship.
"In all of the tragedy and hope, they haven't lost their Caribbean spirit. They are all lovely, happy to have people visit and happy to educate us in the things that they are doing to try and recover from all this," she told CBC's The Morning Edition host, Craig Norris on Monday.
"They are happy to feel included in our own education on the things we are doing humanitarian-wise as well as getting an education on our medical services."
Balint had the chance to tour the island during her week-long stay.
She spent that time with Morvin Fiedtkou, head of training for Antigua and Barbuda EMS, Shawn Greenidge, director of Antigua & Barbuda EMS, and even met with Makeisha Desuza, chair of the Health Committee of Barbuda, to talk about where and how the medical supplies would be distributed.
"Ms. Desuza, I didn't mean to bring her to tears, but she was so grateful for all the effort that the community had put in," said Balint.
"You don't really realize how special it is, what you are doing, until something like that happens."
'I wont stop'
The trip has been an eye-opener, said Balint, who hopes to continue to work closely with Perth County Emergency Services to go on more relief effort missions in the future.
"Now it's like I've been bit and addicted," she said. "I'll be doing this everywhere I can. I won't stop."
Perth County Paramedic Service is now fundraising and collecting relief supplies for Guatemala and Haiti. Balint said anyone interested in helping out can contact Perth County Paramedic Service or Not Just Tourists.
Listen to Nadine's interview with The Morning Edition: