Working with a local relief organization

Working with a local relief organization

Five Nelsonites making the world a better place

The Star profiled several people this year working overseas. Here are five of our favourites.

Part of the Star’s look back at the top stories of 2012.

1) Bruce Halstead: For 21 years, the retired Nelson police officer has worked with a local relief organization to help Romania’s orphans, elderly, and poor.

They’ve built an orphanage, houses, playgrounds, and distributed clothing and bedding to every corner of the country. They’ve also shipped 11 containers of donated supplies.

Halstead, who has been to Romania 31 times, says the most rewarding part has been watching the two infants he and his wife adopted grow into young adults.

“They’ve both been very willing and helpful in the whole program,” he says.

Halstead was recognized in April as Nelson’s Citizen of the Year.

2) Anne Pringle: The Nelson native was wondering what to do with her degree in international development when she and a friend organized an eco-friendly fashion show in Toronto as a fundraiser for earthquake-stricken Haiti.

That led to Local Buttons, design clothing made of secondhand fabrics bought in Haiti.

“It was all the junk we send over to developing countries,” she says. “We’re cutting it up and purchasing it back.” They work with tailors through INDEPCO, an organization that promotes the development of the Haitian sewing industry, and hope to expand to other countries.

3) Nathan Beninger: Living in Cusco, Peru, with his wife and daughter, Beninger has been exposed to the dark side of the popular tourist city: child prostitution is rampant, borne out of extreme poverty.

With few resources, the Nelson native operates a shelter for young girls abused or sexually exploited. A photographer by trade, he first went to Peru to capture its natural beauty, and in 2005 began volunteering at a similar shelter.

“I just saw how poorly managed it was and wanted to do something more for these kids to help them finish their schooling,” he says.

4) Krysta Hatlen: Becoming a nurse is what she always wanted.

Hatlen graduated from Selkirk College, worked in the maternity ward at Kootenay Lake Hospital, did specialty training in tropical nursing, and then worked in an Ethiopian refugee camp with Somalis fleeing famine.

“I love to meet the families I work with during what is usually such a happy time for them and help them navigate through childbirth and the first few days of being parents,” she says.

The College of Registered Nurses of BC recognized her with its rising star award.

5) Tessa Munro: Another Selkirk College nursing student, Munro spent three weeks in Guatemala with classmates on a practicum. They were the seventh local group to travel to a country where government health services are almost non-existent.

“It opened my eyes to the complexities of health and health promotion,” Munro says. “It’s not just enough to look at a person in isolation and their lifestyle choices.”

They worked in schools teaching basic concepts as hand washing and teeth brushing and educated other student nurses about sexual health.