By Breanne Massey
After 15 years of teaching internationally about modernizing medical education and equipment, Dr. Chris Brown and his wife, Dr. Jane Lemaire, are now telling their story to Canadians.
The Calgary-based couple has been volunteering with the Cumming School of Medicines (CSM) global health initiatives in Southeast Asia when the demand to update medical education in Laos surfaced which prompted nearly two decades of work to promote international health care overseas and the production of a 50-minute documentary entitled A Working Adventure in Laos.
A Working Adventure in Laos has been recognized in the International Award of Merit category at the International Film Festival for Environment Health and Culture in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Jane and I do a lot of different activities through the medical school and part of that, for the past 20 years, has been international health work, said Dr. Brown. Weve been to the Philippines (to build a new medical school), but for the last 15 years, we have been involved in a project in Laos which is a country in Southeast Asia. I certainly didnt even know where it was when we first got started.
Dr. Brown is a doctor at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, A.B. and a professor of medicine at the University of Calgary. He will be presenting information about the experience and screening A Working Adventure in Laos at 7 p.m. for the Invermere Rotary Club at the Curling Rink on Wednesday, September 30th.
Theres a small group of us who got involved, all of us are physicians and doctors at the medical school (at the University of Canada), way back in 1997, explained Dr. Brown. We developed quite a skill and a reputation in developing countries for the reform of medical education so they had been asked to come and visit a few countries. They were in the Philippines when we got started and we were asked to help either modernize medical education or build a brand new medical school with a completely different philosophy.
The project includes revamping the medical education system and training a new breed of doctors with a revised curriculum.
Essentially, they were asking us to bring their medical system into the modern world because it was based on material from the 1940s, he said. It was a communist country that was very, very poor so they had no infrastructure. It was really tough and so after several years of discussing how we might be able to do this with them, we said, OK and starting going there on a regular basis for about a month each year in 2002. Weve been going every year since then, for about the same amount of time.
But Dr. Brown is one of about 50 faculty members that volunteer to support the initiatives in Laos.
At some point, I thought this was an amazing story that needed to be told and nobody wanted to do that so I started doing it, he said, noting that creating the documentary took close to a year to complete part-time. We had the help of a professional videographer from southern Ontario that we had worked with in years past. He came to Laos with me and spent a month there, tagging along after me to interview my Laotian colleagues because I wanted them to tell their story.
Now, Dr. Brown is working on an application for a global grant of $150,000 over a three year period from the Rotary International.
A lot of them have seen the documentary and now want to join the team, he explained, noting the Golden Rotary Club is sponsoring the grant application, which includes support of the members from Invermere, Cranbrook and Creston.
Im going to speak to them about what we trying to do going forward.
To watch the documentary, visit https://vimeopro.com/lightfallvideos/a-working-adventureinlaos-1.