The hardest working
Templar in the Grand Priory of Canada is Barbara Boles-Davis
Poland's version of Zoomer magazine.
The title of the magazine translates into "The Seniors' Voice".
Editors Note: Our thanks to
Patrycja, a nurse at the Anjema Eye Institute in Chatham, for
translating the article for us and here it is...
“Work with these people is an adventure that changed my life… together
with them I cry and together we laugh”
Barbara Boles-Davis worked 37 yrs in the operating room as a nurse. The
last 23 yrs she has traveled to third world countries for missions
providing medical help to save lives. She has a Polish background. She
discovered her Polish roots on her last visit to Libiaz a city in
Poland. At a school in this city there is a special award “Ludwik Molato
award of excellence” Her passion is photography and watercolors. (This
is written on the left side of the article)
Basia Gagnon- What brought you to Libiaz?
6 yrs ago my husband and I went to Poland to find my family roots. We
thought that we would only find the resting place of my grandparents,
but we had my father’s photo album and we knew his date of birth. The
priest easily found his baptismal certificate, but I didn’t know my 6
aunts’ last names. When I showed his photo album to the priest’s
housekeeper, she recognized one of my aunts. Her name was Stanislawa
Koczur a 90 yr old women that lives in Libiaz. We went to meet with her.
It turned out that I have a large family, which I didn’t know. My father
was 18 yrs old when the second WW started. He was a pilot with his
company that was trying to escape to England through Czechoslovakia,
Greece and France. During the War he was a bomber pilot with the 305
Polish divisions. General Sikorski awarded him with Virtuti Military
Medal of Honor. He also was awarded by the British with a distinguished
flying medal, and 4 times he received the Cross of Honor. After the war
he could not return to Poland so he emigrated to Canada.
Basia Gagnon: In Libiaz you funded a special award?
At the end of the school year where my father attended Number 2 in
Libiaz they select the year’s best student and award them with my
Basia Gagnon; You have a unique way of spending your vacations?
The first time I left for a medical mission trip I was working as a
nurse which a doctor convinced me to do. My friends said I was crazy. I
paid for the tickets and all the necessities with my own money. I don’t
like to lay on the beach, I favor to help others instead. I have grown
up kids and grandkids, I don’t lack anything. Now is the time to help
others. I like people, and after my first escapade I was addicted. My
first trip was Ecuador, a gold mine where workers work without any
safety. To ignite dynamite they use matches. There is no health care and
many accidents. Then I went to Africa, I have been there 6 times
already. Two times in Zambia, then Nepal, in Peru I was 17 times. We
worked at very high altitudes 5000 meters. We were working with little
kids with AIDS in Malawi. I was in the Amazon. I have had 36 missions in
total. I go with International Outreach or Medical Ministry
International. With the Rotary Club we were in India, where we were
vaccinating against Polio. Now everywhere I go I meet someone I know. I
spend two weeks working. Since the working conditions are very primitive
I spend a real vacation at a nice hotel, sightseeing, talking to people
and taking pictures. Photography is my hobby.
Barbara is a retired
registered nurse. Most of her career was spent in the operating room at
St. Joseph’s hospital in Hamilton. She also worked at the Portage la
Prairie Hospital, in Manitoba, and the Halifax Infirmary, now the Queen
Elizabeth Hospital Complex.
Barbara became interested in the Developing World in 1994, when a
colleague suggested that she try a third world medical project – thereby
combining her professional skills, and her love for Latin America .
Her first mission, in 1993, was to Ecuador to a town called Zaruma.
Since then she has volunteered on 36 medical and non-medical missions in
fifteen different countries:
Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil,
India, Thailand, Swaziland, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia and Nepal.
These missions included: Trauma, orthopaedics, gynaecology, plastic
surgery, ophthalmology, dentistry, vaccinations and public health
She has been involved in a unique teaching program at the University
Hospital of the State of Haiti in Port-au-Prince.
She has done numerous presentations to schools, hospitals, church
groups, Rotary and other clubs, and on the Provincial level, to the
Ontario Operating Room Nurses Association.
She also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Heart-Links, a
Canadian organization dedicated to the empowerment of women in the Zana
Valley of Peru. She was also a member of its Peru Projects committee,
and now serves on its Work Awareness Trip Committee.