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An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 15.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 22, 2017

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 4,006

ISSN 2369-6885

1

Abstract

An interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. She discusses: modern examples 5 years into the development of Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization’s three components; number of corrupt orphanages; number of orphanages completely shut down with assistance of Morgan; the general process of shutting down corrupt orphanages; nuanced on-the-ground aspects of the problems in family reintegration and aftercare programs; best ways to empower women and girls to flourish; and the involvement of fathers and birth control.

Keywords: Humanitarianism, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Morgan Wienberg.

An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C.: Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization (Part Four)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

*Images in Appendix I: Photographs.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization works from three components: child well-being and development, family and community involvement, and advocacy of child rights.[5] What are some modern examples of this – 5 years into its development?

Morgan Wienberg: Some children have been reunited for several years. We are focusing on education and medical care for the kids. That’s one clear example with child well-being and development. When speaking about family and community development, the community trainings as part of the working group for child protection. Community education regarding child abuse and sexual assault.

Also, education regarding abandonment once people give their children to orphanages. Some children have been reunited longer. We will invest in helping a parent start a small business or raise livestock. That does overlap into child wellbeing and development because the objective is to help that parent be able to care for the child.

In addition to it, that family can invest in their local economy, which can affect the whole community. When we talk abut advocacy, some examples include parents who try to reclaim their child from a corrupt orphanage. They find out that the child has been sold. We met one parent whose child died in the orphanage. We accompany those parents to take legal action and get an arrest warrant for the orphanage owner.

I have been involved in shutting several orphanages down. We have some of the kids involved in advocacy. When we have meetings with certain partners to educate international community about corrupt orphanages and the importance of family reunification, we have some of the youth that went through the phase of living in an abusive orphanage.

Now, they are with their families or in a state house. We have those children speak at the meetings or speak with partners, or on radios. We try to get them involved in that as well. In addition, other advocacy cases include kids who are sexually assaulted. We accompany them to the hospital for medical care. We try to arrange mental health care as well.

We have the child see a psychologist. We have them removed from the dangerous situation. We accompany them to the police system and to court if necessary.

2. Jacobsen: In a prior interview, you mentioned 600 orphanages were corrupt in Haiti. However, it is hard to track them. You posited more.

Wienberg: There are more.

(Laughs)

There are thousands of orphanages in Haiti. Social Services has tried to monitor them. However, when you talk about the entire Southern department, which is equivalent to a province or a state, there are only 7 social workers for the entire region who are with social services. Those 7 social workers don’t have contracts. They haven’t had contracts for the last 3 months.

They haven’t been paid. They go to work because of commitment to the kids. There are only 2 paid social workers at present for the entire region. They have one vehicle. How can they monitor those orphanages? They did try to do some statistics about it. Definitely, I believe there are more than 600.

3. Jacobsen: How many have you been involved in shutting down?

Wienberg: I have been involved in shutting down three orphanages, completely.

4. Jacobsen: What is the process to shutting them down? If people are reading this 1, 5, or 10 years from now, what is the general process to shut them down directly or indirectly through support/advocacy to shut them down?

Wienberg: It is important to be in contact with IBESR. If you see orphanages that do not treat children well or up to standards, you should report it. If it is not too severe, they will not shut it down, but will pressure the orphanage to improve its standards. It is important to notify them about it. That is the first step. Also, you can go to the police, UNICEF, or Save the Children.

In terms of prevention, if you want to support abused children, you should know orphanages are more likely to cause more problems. You can consider supporting families or community development projects, foster homes, or support IBESR if you’re going to support an orphanage. IBESR can list the official ones. If it is an orphanage that you are part of now, you can contact IBESR to see if it is registered.

First of all, international sponsors for these orphanages are not aware of the exploitation happening. Also, they might not be aware of the alternatives. Haiti is on another level. Even if an orphanage is well run, the children are healthy. It has sufficient funding. A child raised in an institution is not going to develop the same as a child in a family setting. S.O.S. Village is a good example.

This is a good orphanage that we’ve placed children when they can’t be with their families because it is set up as a family setting. It is broken into different households with a mother and a limited number of kids. I appreciate that some kids need orphanages, but the setup should be in a family dynamic. There is research to prove this. Kids raised in institutions are more likely to be involved in prostitution, crime, and so on.

They feel like they are lacking something. If you look at Haiti as a whole and want to help Haiti advance, I do not see how taking children away from their communities and leaving them in that one spot, and leave them there until they are 18, will help the country advance.

You have teenagers completely disconnected from the community. They do not know how to survive in their own country. They do not have the connections to community for reintegration into the community. I have seen those kids at 18. They grow up well in an orphanage, but are put out on the street at 18. Literally, there have been kids that die because of malnutrition. They do not know how to survive.

Once they turn 18, they can not keep them in the orphanage. They put him on the street. They did not reunite him with the family at that point. If the child has been at the orphanage for several years, who knows if the family will accept them? If they do live with the family, they do not have the connection. They are not used to surviving. A lot of the time, they do not have the skills to look after themselves and the community.

Haiti is lacking in aftercare programs for transitioning youth into more self-sufficient adults. Many people are eager to support little kids. Sometimes, it is difficult to acquire funding for teenagers or young adults. It is important because those are some of the most at-risk people in Haiti. Those young adults. They have the potential to turn the country around and contribute to the economy, and to create industry.

They can look after themselves and other people. Few people are investing in that age group. Those are the people turning to crime or remaining dependent on adults or orphanages, and so on. So, definitely, the investment in families and communities is the way to go; if you have to support and institution, you should have it based in family units with aftercare programs to help youths transition out.

5. Jacobsen: Statistically, those that will become involved in crime, drugs, inability to support themselves, and have a negative impact on society are young men more than young women. The reintegration of young men into families is important for the reduction of those negative impacts. I love your comprehensive perspective. Aside from family reintegration and after care programs, what are the nuanced on-the-ground aspects of the problem?

Wienberg: With the aid coming to Haiti, I notice this does not focus on empowerment and sustainability of the locals. Those giving the aid need to ask the locals what they are not good at and then work on improving that for them. That can help them become more sustainable.  Also, it creates a culture of dependents. The Haitian people are receiving handouts or people are coming to them and asking, “What do you need?”

Rather than, “What qualities do you have that we can help you build?” That mentality, even once healthier, they will not realize that they can impact or improve those in their community. They see themselves as receivers rather than contributors. It is about coming with an open mind and being culturally sensitive asking, “How can we help you become more sustainable?” Then, you can invest in that.

When you look at the US aid approach of sending subsidized rice into Haiti, local farmers can not sell rice. The street rice in more expensive than bleached white American rice. Even a portion of the money invested in shipping the rice over here, if those funds were invested in helping local farmer grow crops and training them in effective methods of doing it, it would have an exponentially greater impact here than the standard method.

6. Jacobsen: You are touching on something deep there. I note young men being more likely to head into crime, and so on, if disenfranchised, alienated, and so on. The sociological term is anomie. If you take the suggestion of having some of the money used to ship the subsidized white American rice and give this to women – daughters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, that can be taken as a form of empowerment of women at one level.

Furthermore, empowerment of women is the strongest force for raising the ‘floor’ of the entire society – any society. This has been shown by the UN repeatedly on international metrics. You mentioned a women’s rights governmental organization that you are working with as well. What are the best ways to empower girls and young women to flourish?

Wienberg: Women’s independence is a huge aspect of it because a lot of women and girls depend on men for finance. Sometimes, even if they are able to go to school or have other opportunities, because their opportunities are being paid for by men, they become pregnant or influenced by those men and not making their own decisions. Mothers need to be able to look after their children would address the issue.

Women being economically independent would help them take their futures into their own hands. I work with kids in the streets. Primarily, they are boys. I think that’s because the girls, even suffering domestic abuse, will stay at home because they depend on it. Even with women, with wives, their husband can be abusing their children. They will stay at home because the men rent the house for them.

Even if we look at what is going into the streets, they are being introduced to crime. There is a gang environment, where older people and young men will pressure children into doing certain crimes. I have 13-year-old boys tell me about how a man has put a gun in their hands and pressured them to rob a store. If they are accused, they will be beat up or have to leave the area.

If mothers are able to look after their kids, those kids will be able to look after them. Primarily, kids will enter the streets because there is nothing going on at home. There is no food. They are not in school. They might as well go out and find a way to feed themselves. If parents are able to provide for their kids, that is ultimately the biggest way to address these issues.

In particular, we need to invest in women. Many men do not take responsibility for their families or their children. We had a father of a girl, who we reunited, sell the family’s home. He had five kids – four boys and one daughter. This was a girl in the corrupt orphanage.  The mother is an incredibly strong woman. She stays with the man.

This man sold the home. Now, they live in a mix of tarp and metal sheets put together. They do not know what he did with the money. He has other girlfriends. Many men do not take responsibility for their families. We had the mother start a small business. We saw a difference in the children’s health at that point. So, the empowerment of women is a powerful thing to do now.

There are fathers who care about their kids and family. However, primarily, we see mothers being more sensitive for their children.

7. Jacobsen: The main message was economic empowerment of women and the involvement of fathers. Another aspect of United Nations empowerment of women has to do with reproductive rights. We have Margaret Sanger in North America for the pill. It provides more women the control over when and how many children.

Wienberg: [Laughing] I have a few stories. I can share them. It is an issue, which is a challenge. We are attempting to approach it. Another major issue in Haiti is people have too many children. Birth control is free. If a woman goes to take birth control and can not afford it, they will give it to her. They have injections available, pills, something placed under the skin renewed every 5 fives, and hysterectomies.

Women can do this without anyone knowing about it. It is discreet and free of charge. The majority of people are not doing it. It is a huge challenge for us because you can help the family without the ability to support their children. Families with five kids. Four of them in school. We are the one sponsoring the education. All of the sudden, the family has another child.

[Laughing]

It is frustrating because they can not support their current children. It is something we have been working towards for the current families through LFBS. I am working on training staff to work on family planning and its importance. Hopefully, we will be able to do the new training in the new year with the families that LFBS works with in Haiti.

There is another woman. She approached the working group for child protection. She has 14 children. This woman is in her 40s. She does not have a husband or man living with her. She is a single mother with 14 kids, in a 1-bedroom home, and no job – no source of funding. She depends on handouts from people in the community.

The kids are malnourished and hospitalized, and the woman has no quality of life. She was not on birth control at the time of approaching us. She started birth control. However, that is not a unique case. My friend, who works in the public health department, explained a conversation with a young woman. A young woman had five children, she was 25-years-old. She had a kid each year of the marriage. He was asking her about birth control.

She did not want it. We asked, “Why not use a natural method? Why not have the husband pull out?” According to her, the young woman, half of the time, she was sound asleep and wakes up. Her husband is having sex with her. The young woman, 25, is becoming pregnant while asleep. Part of the issue is women do not feel in control of their own bodies.

I thought about the woman working with me. I work with them. How can people feel out of control of their bodies to such a degree? It terrifies me. We have been working on this with the community training on sexual assault. Often, there is a belief that when a couple marries the man owns the woman’s body. They truly believe this.

We have been doing community trainings, where a pastor will stand and say, “No, according to the Bible, when I marry my wife, I can do what I want with her body.” They do this in front of the whole community training. It is a mentality women accept too. They do not understand that it is rape if you say, “No,” to your husband. There are radio emissions about it. However, when woman marry, they do not feel control over their bodies.

If a woman is not able to have a child, it makes her have less worth to a man. Or, he will not want to marry her. There is a mentality of men. Men want to leave their legacy.

[Laughing]

They want to have a lot of kids.  If they have a lot of kids, those kids will look after you in old age. They forget about raising the kids first. It is a major part of the issue.

References

[David Truman]. (2016, March 9). Morgan. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWbgIF1NO5E.

[DevelopingPictures]. (2012, March 25). Sponsor a Child: Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjzncB3HsmA.

[James Pierre]. (2016, April 5). Morgan Wienberg goes one-on-one with James Pierre. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1VMeKKTxkM.

[Morgan Wienberg]. (2014, June 3). Congratulations, FH Grad 2014!. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNQ7PB95aYA.

[Ryan Sheetz]. (2015, February 20). Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9fdPx1srGI.

Bailey, G. (2013, December 31). Catch Yukoner Morgan Wienberg tomorrow on CBC’s Gracious Gifts. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/airplay/features/2013/12/31/catch-yukoner-morgan-wienberg-tomorrow-on-cbcs-gracious-gifts/.

Baker, R. (2016, March 4). PHOTOS Governor General recognizes exceptional Canadians in Vancouver. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/governor-general-recognizes-exceptional-canadians-in-vancouver-1.3476960.

Broadley, L. (2014, August 1). Meet the Yukoner reuniting Haitian ‘orphans’ with their families. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/1482839/one-yukoners-work-reuniting-haitian-orphans-with-their-families/.

Bruemmer, R. (2011, April 8). Haiti: Little Paul gets it done. Retrieved from http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/haiti+little+paul+gets+done/5214066/story.html.

CBC News. (2015, November 29). Morgan Wienberg awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/morgan-wienberg-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.3340295.

ca. (n.d.). 23-year-old receives Meritorious Service Cross Medal. Retrieved from http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=804018&playlistId=1.2769055&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1.

ca Staff. (2016, February 8). 23-year-old awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/23-year-old-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.2769013.

Dolphin, M. (2015, December 4). Yukoner’s work in Haiti draws governor general’s attention. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/life/yukoners-work-in-haiti-draws-governor-generals-attention/.

Gillmore, M. (2012, July 18). Helping to reunite families in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-to-reunite-families-in-haiti.

Gillmore, W. (2013, August 16). Wienberg gives New York a glimpse of Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/wienberg-gives-new-york-a-glimpse-of-haiti/.

Gjerstad, S. (2014, April 8). Morgan (22) vier livet sitt til å gjenforene barn med foreldrene sine på Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.tv2.no/a/5852686/.

Joannou, A. (2016, March 7). Governor general gives nod to Yukon’s champion of Haitian children. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/governor-general-gives-nod-to-yukons-champion-of-haitian-children/.

Langham, M. (2012, October 10). Just Like Us: An Interview with Morgan Wienberg of Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from http://aconspiracyofhope.blogspot.ca/2012/10/just-like-us-interview-with-morgan.html.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com.

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(2014, July 8). Joven canadiense decide gastar sus ahorros en rescatar niños de Haití. Retrieved from http://www.elpais.com.uy/vida-actual/joven-canadiense-reune-huerfanos-haitianos.html.

Rodgers, E. (2015, January 12). Meet the 22-Year-Old Who Skipped Out on College—to Offer a Helping Hand in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/01/12/meet-morgan-wienberg-little-foot-big-step.

Schott, B.Y. (2012, September 13). Making a Difference One Child at a Time. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/making-a-difference-one-child-at-a-time/#sthash.CeS656Xm.2r1eJsAW.dpbs.

Shiel, A. (2011, November 17). McGill students host third annual TEDxMcGill even. Retrieved from http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2011/11/mcgill-students-host-third-annual-tedxmcgill-event/.

Thompson, J. (2011, December 23). Helping Haiti for the holidays. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-haiti-for-the-holidays.

Thompson, J. (August 12). Hope and hard lessons in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/hope-and-hard-lessons-in-haiti.

Thomson Reuters. (2014, July 27). 22-year-old Yukoner reunites Haitian ‘orphans’ with parents. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/22-year-old-yukoner-reunites-haitian-orphans-with-parents-1.2719559.

Waddell, S. (2015, November 27). For decorated Yukoner, home is now Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/for-decorated-yukoner-home-is-now-haiti.

Whitehorse Star. (2016, March 2). Yukoners to receive honours from Governor General. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/yukoners-to-receive-honours-from-governor-general.

Wienberg, M. (2013, November 22). Age Is Not an Obstacle in Changing the World. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-wienberg/age-is-not-an-obstacle_b_4324563.html.

Wienberg, M. (2014, January 23). Courage of a Mother. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/courage-of-a-mother/#sthash.hy1QzF0S.ZA1StSZz.dpbs.

Woodcock, R. (2013, September 26). Back to School in Haiti. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/back-to-school-in-haiti/#sthash.TMqQNkLX.dpbs.

Yukon News. (2013, February 6). Incredible acts of kindness in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/letters-opinions/incredible-acts-of-kindness-in-haiti.

Appendix I: Photographs

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Appendix II: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 22, 2017 at www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Meritorious Service Cross (M.S.C.), Government of Canada; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; Governor General of Canada Academic Awards; Yukon Commissioner Award; Finalist, Young Women Impacting Social Justice, The Berger-Marks Foundation; Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship Award for Humanitarian Impact, Rotary International; Keynote Speaker (2013), United Nations Youth Assembly.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Morgan Wienberg.

[5] About Us (2016) states:

1. Child Well-being and Development

Our child well-being and development program focuses on literacy, numeracy and vocational learning. LFBS runs a Transitional Safehouse for those children who temporarily cannot live at home, or do not have a home.  We offer protection and healing of children victimized by abuse, neglect, exploitation and homelessness.

2. Family and Community Development

Our outreach program helps families receive the training and resources they need to begin a sustainable source of income through micro-business start-up, farming or a trade.   Earning money means that families can stay together or reunite.  Education and opportunity for self-sufficiency and sound housing helps break the cycle of poverty, poor health, abandonment in Haiti by helping build strong families and communities and keeping families together.

3. Advocacy of Child Rights

LFBS works in collaboration with local authorities and media to take a stand for the rights of children and parents. We raise awareness against child abandonment in vulnerable communities and help victims of abuse to find their voice to speak out.

WE restore vulnerable Haitian children and youth to health, family and community. OUR programs emphasize direct relationship with Haitian people. WE act to empower rather than replace families and local social structures. OUR focus is on sustained change in the lives of the people we work with. ENHANCING the capacity of locals to create change means that we embrace partnerships and cooperative relationships with local authorities and other agencies.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). About Us. Retrieved from https://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com/about-us/.

Appendix III: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four) [Online].September 2017; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, September 22). An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A, September. 2017. <www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A (September 2017). www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):September. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Four)[Internet]. (2017, September; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-morgan-wienberg-m-s-c-part-four.

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An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 15.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2017

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,688

ISSN 2369-6885

1

Abstract

An interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. She discusses: ethic that drives the work; benefits in interpersonal interactions with Haitians through speaking English and Creole; partnerships with organizations; tasks and responsibilities as the Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations for Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization; best personal aspects of the position; most emotionally ‘taxing’ part of the work for her; relevant preparation from high school for the humanitarian pursuit; easiest and hardest aspects of coordination of a diverse, multi-disciplinary team; strengths in a diverse team; main differences between Haiti and Canada and being culturally sensitive; and benefits and downsides of each culture.

Keywords: Humanitarianism, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Morgan Wienberg.

An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C.: Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization (Part Three)[1],[2],[3],[4],

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

*Images in Appendix I: Photographs.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the ethic that drives this for you?

Morgan Wienberg: [Laughing] I see all people as having the same rights. The fact that these children can be so stripped of their rights. I do not feel I can accept it. I need to do something about it. I am reminded of the conditions of the kids in the beginning. It is upsetting that children who are supposed to be protected by society can be badly hurt and abused by the adults.

Adults who are supposed to be protecting them. That many people can see it and accept it. Part of the issue is people go to Haiti and, because it is Haiti, will accept that this child is emaciated or too weak to stand up. Or that the adult is whipping the child with a metal cord. Child rights are universal. There’s the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

If a country is not developed or has some cultural undertones, that does not change the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We should not accept the ill-treatment of the young. They need more support to be implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Some people when they go to Haiti accept and forget it because “it’s Haiti.”

2. Jacobsen: You speak English and Creole. How does this benefit interpersonal interactions with Haitians?

My speaking English and Creole influenced my abilities to better understand Haitian culture and the things happening at the moment, especially with street children in particular. I learned about street children by sitting with them in the afternoon and talking with them. I had a communication barrier, which made building relationships and trust difficult.

I dealt with a fair share of deception and corruption. My speaking the language helps me learn my lesson or be aware of risks, especially of repeats of deception and corruption. In terms of managing staff and being fully communicating expectations with them, and to understand their perspective, it plays a huge role. I cannot express it.

Even in the integration into the community, I needed to understand the culture and family dynamics. I would not know without knowing Creole. When I went to Haiti in 2010, I knew French and got by with it. When I went to the orphanage in 2011, the children didn’t speak French. I began to speak Creole by communicating with them.

My understanding of the real situation came from speaking the language and with the children. They spoke of the families back home. The kids could be coming to orphanages for years and the parents would not know the truth. I found out about the situation for the kids and their families, and the details of the abuse, is from the children talking to me.

3. Jacobsen: Did learning Creole/Kreyol improve trust and camaraderie with Haitians?

It makes me stand out. Haitians are surprised when I speak to them. I have been able to present in a court house, in the legal system, to participate in meetings with other local authorities, and so on. I am able to fully express myself. It helps them understand my objectives and way of thinking. In the beginning, when they don’t fully understand my objectives, I met hostility from the authorities.

They were better able to understand what I am doing. We are partners now. When people in the community see me speaking Creole, they like it.

4. Jacobsen: You mentioned partnerships. What organizations?

We partner with the local child protection authorities. In particular, IBESR (Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherches), which is the equivalent of Haitian social services. So, they are the child protection authority. Other government departments include the Ministry for Women’s Rights, Ministry for Handicapped People’s Rights, and Social Affairs.

All of those institutions are part of a network, which is the Groupe du Travail pour la Protection des Enfants (GTPE-Sud) in Haiti. It is a regional network that covers the entire Southern department of Haiti, but it’s based on Les Cayes. This group was originally formed in 2010 following the earthquake as the cluster group for child protection. Now, it has a different name. LFBS is part of the group. Same with the governmental departments.[5]

We have meetings with IBESR once a month, even every two weeks. We work with IBESR about once-a-week. Also, with the Child Protection Brigade of the Police, we help each other out. In particular, where a child has been sexually assaulted, we will be working with the police and the Ministry for Women’s Rights. Other organizations focus on children in conflict with the law.

We work with them, for years now. We help them work with specific case studies. They offered us psychologists to see some children, which we have in the program. They have a social worker doing weekly training with my staff. They let us use their space for different activities. Similar to Haitian social services. Before we had a truck, they let us use their vehicle.

Now, we let them use our vehicle. They help us with children. They place children in the state houses. For example, last week, IBESR had a lost girl. We took her into our girls’ home until they could reunite her with her family. We have good, close working partnerships with the organizations. We have collaborative initiatives too. One main initiative is community training for prevention of sexual assault.

We will go into rural communities and train people about sexual abuse, how they can protect children, and how to react if you’re a victim or someone that you know is a victim. We create committees in those communities. So, community members can keep with the initiative and in contact with us. We are doing this as a group.

5. Jacobsen: You remain the Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations for Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization. What tasks and responsibilities come with this station?

When I started the organization, it was one outreach worker and me. Literally, I would walk with the child to their family, sitting down, having meetings with the family, doing mediation, and helping the child purchase school supplies and go to the hospital. Now, we work to make the support more sustainable, able to expand, and less dependent on me.

Now, I coordinate staff schedules. My staff does those things. They work on their tasks. I do the follow-up afterward. Also, I coordinate with partners. If there is a particularly vulnerable family, I will ask a social worker from social services to accompany my staff to work with that child. Now, I focus on coordinating staff activities in following up with the kid and working on longer-term development or expansion of the programs.

However, I see first-hand things with the kids. My personal connection with the children motivates me. If I was the only one rather than my staff doing the work, I would be limiting the number of people potentially impacted.

6. Jacobsen: What seem the best aspects of this position on a personal level?

I am able to see the growth and empowerment of people. When working intimately with them, you see them every day. I see growth and empowerment with the kids. I look at staff at times. It motivates me. I see them grow. I see them passionate about child protection issues, too. Also, it is exciting to get involved in the big picture in everything we can accomplish.

We gain momentum in working with others. The biggest thing that I love most about this position is dreaming big and making those dreams a reality.

7. Jacobsen: Big dreams are big risks. What seems like the most emotionally ‘taxing’ part for you?

It is extremely, extremely stressful. I struggle with choosing. You have to choose. It is a huge privilege to be able to choose to help someone. However, there are many, many people asking and needing help. You have to choose the person. It is a constant battle within me. You can not anticipate who will advance the most with the support given to them by you. It is difficult.

Sometimes, there are kids who abuse the support in the beginning. Believing in the child, when they do not believe in themselves, it is part of what will result in change. At the same time, in choosing to help the child, you are telling others “no.” Constantly, I wonder if these are the right decisions among competing ones. Also, who am I to choose over people’s lives?

The task is immense. I have to make the decision. It is hard. Also, the trauma for the kids. It might be over. However, it’s hard, emotionally. It is a slow process for the kids to heal from trauma.

8. Jacobsen: You mentioned some board member work before. What other preparation from high school was relevant from this humanitarian pursuit?

Everything from childhood prepared me. Also, it is not something that you could have looked at and prepared yourself for, or have expectations. I had the extreme motivation and inner strength (the biggest thing) to be able to do this. In knowing the activities of the board, my work seeing the meetings help me. I can know what to present.

9. Through the coordination of Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, you work with numerous personalities.[6] What seems like the easiest and hardest aspects of coordination of a diverse, multi-disciplinary team?

My staff on the ground and the board of directors are different groups. They deal with different aspects of the organization. I am the on tying them together. I feed information to both of them. It’s interesting to me. It is unique to be able to connect the two different worlds. It is powerful, especially for the staff on-the-ground to be heard and considered on a team with people like Pamela Hine.

It can be difficult to communicate the reality on-the-ground to the Board of Directors at times. It is hard to give a full picture.

[Laughing]

At the same time, they are understanding and encouraging. With the local staff, there are some cultural challenges at times. I have been attempting to focus on their wellbeing. I went to a conference in India earlier this year.

One theme was about caring for the caretakers. When you think about it, they have been through trauma, work through stressful days, and the kids are not always respectful. I want to focus on the wellbeing and training of the local staff. I have seen them be more independent, motivated, and engaged because they feel value and potential for themselves.

I have worked closely with the local staff compared to the board of directors. I communicate with them more because I am in primarily Haiti. However, the staff needs the constant presence and communication more than the board of directors.

10. Jacobsen: You noted the difficulties run one way. Not from local workers in Haiti to the board members, but from the board members understanding the situation on the ground for the LFBS staff. That’s an interesting note. If you have a diverse team split in team streams, what strengths does this diverse team bring to the organization?

Definitely, there is a strength. My local staff completely understand the culture and the reality of what we are dealing with in Haiti. I have the international board. They have a level of education and contacts, and perception. That can be applied to Haiti. When you combine the two, it works really well. When you bring people on board, you are developing contacts Haitians would not think about for LFBS.

I am being fed contacts from the international side and am able to bring that to LFBS staff. I can then apply this in a culturally sensitive way. It is subtle. We can bring unique methods and contacts, but make them work for the community.

11. With respect to cultural sensitivity and differences, or a careful ‘trotting’ around or between the two, what are the main differences between Haiti and Canada? How would you be culturally sensitive?

Those are some difficult questions. To be culturally sensitive, it is about being open-minded and recognizing when going to Haiti s a different culture and system. You should not have expectations in Haiti as if it’s North America. You should be willing to learn, pick up on the culture, and see how people interact here. That can be ‘easier said than done’. People take many expectations from North America.

It is about bringing something to Haiti rather than learning and taking in Haiti. The biggest difference is communication. I find communication different. Communication has been something work with the local staff a bit. Another major difference is people in Haiti value relationships over time. For instance, if you are in a meeting, and come across someone with an issue, a Haitian would not even think twice about stopping and talking to that person to help them with the issue, and then arrive late to the meeting.

They would not think twice about it. A North American might feel stressed about being 15 minutes late. It depends on the person. (Laughs)

[Laughing]

In North America, we are time focused. In Haiti, they are relationship focused. It has its strengths. (Laughs) It has its difficult moments as well.

12. Jacobsen: With time, it makes the society more productive. With relationships, it benefits mental well-being. Downsides are the reduction of well-being and lost time, respectively.

It is something that I notice coming back to North America. It is part of the enjoyment and connectedness with Haitian society (more than North America at times). Human interactions are lacking at times in North America. We have materialistic values. That has taken the place of human contact and interaction. In Haiti, if something happens to me in the middle of the street, even if I did not know the area, I know 20 people will work to help me.

In North America, you can be part of a community in North America and not be a part of their life, and so be ignored by them – or they are stressed about meeting timelines. I can be affected by it. It works well with LFBS work. When you’re working with families attempting to build trust with these traumatized children, it is about the relationships and the interactions.

Often much more than timelines.

References

[David Truman]. (2016, March 9). Morgan. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWbgIF1NO5E.

[DevelopingPictures]. (2012, March 25). Sponsor a Child: Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjzncB3HsmA.

[James Pierre]. (2016, April 5). Morgan Wienberg goes one-on-one with James Pierre. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1VMeKKTxkM.

[Morgan Wienberg]. (2014, June 3). Congratulations, FH Grad 2014!. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNQ7PB95aYA.

[Ryan Sheetz]. (2015, February 20). Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9fdPx1srGI.

Bailey, G. (2013, December 31). Catch Yukoner Morgan Wienberg tomorrow on CBC’s Gracious Gifts. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/airplay/features/2013/12/31/catch-yukoner-morgan-wienberg-tomorrow-on-cbcs-gracious-gifts/.

Baker, R. (2016, March 4). PHOTOS Governor General recognizes exceptional Canadians in Vancouver. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/governor-general-recognizes-exceptional-canadians-in-vancouver-1.3476960.

Broadley, L. (2014, August 1). Meet the Yukoner reuniting Haitian ‘orphans’ with their families. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/1482839/one-yukoners-work-reuniting-haitian-orphans-with-their-families/.

Bruemmer, R. (2011, April 8). Haiti: Little Paul gets it done. Retrieved from http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/haiti+little+paul+gets+done/5214066/story.html.

CBC News. (2015, November 29). Morgan Wienberg awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/morgan-wienberg-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.3340295.

ca. (n.d.). 23-year-old receives Meritorious Service Cross Medal. Retrieved from http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=804018&playlistId=1.2769055&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1.

ca Staff. (2016, February 8). 23-year-old awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/23-year-old-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.2769013.

Dolphin, M. (2015, December 4). Yukoner’s work in Haiti draws governor general’s attention. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/life/yukoners-work-in-haiti-draws-governor-generals-attention/.

Gillmore, M. (2012, July 18). Helping to reunite families in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-to-reunite-families-in-haiti.

Gillmore, W. (2013, August 16). Wienberg gives New York a glimpse of Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/wienberg-gives-new-york-a-glimpse-of-haiti/.

Gjerstad, S. (2014, April 8). Morgan (22) vier livet sitt til å gjenforene barn med foreldrene sine på Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.tv2.no/a/5852686/.

Joannou, A. (2016, March 7). Governor general gives nod to Yukon’s champion of Haitian children. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/governor-general-gives-nod-to-yukons-champion-of-haitian-children/.

Langham, M. (2012, October 10). Just Like Us: An Interview with Morgan Wienberg of Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from http://aconspiracyofhope.blogspot.ca/2012/10/just-like-us-interview-with-morgan.html.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com.

Neel, T. (2013, May 16). Reaching the Hearts of Children in Need. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/reaching-the-hearts-of-children-in-need/#sthash.YCSvg1aM.oVLAQE3j.dpbs.

Peacock, A. (2016, February 27). Haiti has her heart. http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/news/local_news/article_beb828d0-ddcf-11e5-851b-8b09487f61ce.html?mode=story.

(2014, July 8). Joven canadiense decide gastar sus ahorros en rescatar niños de Haití. Retrieved from http://www.elpais.com.uy/vida-actual/joven-canadiense-reune-huerfanos-haitianos.html.

Rodgers, E. (2015, January 12). Meet the 22-Year-Old Who Skipped Out on College—to Offer a Helping Hand in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/01/12/meet-morgan-wienberg-little-foot-big-step.

Schott, B.Y. (2012, September 13). Making a Difference One Child at a Time. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/making-a-difference-one-child-at-a-time/#sthash.CeS656Xm.2r1eJsAW.dpbs.

Shiel, A. (2011, November 17). McGill students host third annual TEDxMcGill even. Retrieved from http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2011/11/mcgill-students-host-third-annual-tedxmcgill-event/.

Thompson, J. (2011, December 23). Helping Haiti for the holidays. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-haiti-for-the-holidays.

Thompson, J. (August 12). Hope and hard lessons in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/hope-and-hard-lessons-in-haiti.

Thomson Reuters. (2014, July 27). 22-year-old Yukoner reunites Haitian ‘orphans’ with parents. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/22-year-old-yukoner-reunites-haitian-orphans-with-parents-1.2719559.

Waddell, S. (2015, November 27). For decorated Yukoner, home is now Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/for-decorated-yukoner-home-is-now-haiti.

Whitehorse Star. (2016, March 2). Yukoners to receive honours from Governor General. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/yukoners-to-receive-honours-from-governor-general.

Wienberg, M. (2013, November 22). Age Is Not an Obstacle in Changing the World. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-wienberg/age-is-not-an-obstacle_b_4324563.html.

Wienberg, M. (2014, January 23). Courage of a Mother. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/courage-of-a-mother/#sthash.hy1QzF0S.ZA1StSZz.dpbs.

Woodcock, R. (2013, September 26). Back to School in Haiti. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/back-to-school-in-haiti/#sthash.TMqQNkLX.dpbs.

Yukon News. (2013, February 6). Incredible acts of kindness in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/letters-opinions/incredible-acts-of-kindness-in-haiti.

Appendix I: Photographs

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Appendix II: Footnotes

 

[1] Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2017 at www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-three; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues.

[3] Meritorious Service Cross (M.S.C.), Government of Canada; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; Governor General of Canada Academic Awards; Yukon Commissioner Award; Finalist, Young Women Impacting Social Justice, The Berger-Marks Foundation; Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship Award for Humanitarian Impact, Rotary International; Keynote Speaker (2013), United Nations Youth Assembly; Finalist (2012), Edna Award, International Women’s Rights.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Morgan Wienberg.

[5] Co-Founder/Head of Haiti Operations: MORGAN WIENBERG, M.S.C. (2016) states:

Raised in Canada’s far northern city of Whitehorse, Yukon, throughout her youth, Morgan volunteered with non-profit organizations and developed an all-consuming interest in human rights. In 2010, six months after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, this high school valedictorian traded her snow boots for sandals and set off for the devastated country. What was meant to be a short trip changed her life – and countless others – forever.

Morgan volunteered in an orphanage and found the conditions to be appalling. She witnessed children that were neglected, beaten, and starved. In some cases, children were used as slaves or sold, as if they were property. Although it was sorely needed, the children were denied medical attention. Morgan discovered that children had been sent to the orphanage by their parents in the mistaken belief that their children would be offered food, education, and loving care. Morgan began to work towards reuniting children with their families.

In 2011, Morgan co-founded Little Footprints, Big Steps (LFBS). Morgan continues to live in Haiti, leading the organization with integrity, creativity and perseverance. Forging partnerships and collaborations with other non-profits and with Haitian government; spearheading initiatives and piloting programs; hiring and guiding Haitian staff; managing the program administration; tirelessly pouring love and encouragement into all of the children and families that come her way.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). Co-Founder/Head of Haiti Operations: MORGAN WIENBERG, M.S.C.. Retrieved from http://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com/about-us/meet-mogan/.

[6] CTVNews.ca. (n.d.). 23-year-old receives Meritorious Service Cross Medal. Retrieved from http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=804018&playlistId=1.2769055&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1.

[7] Ibid.

Appendix III: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three) [Online].September 2017; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, September 15). An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A, September. 2017. <www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A (September 2017). www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):September. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Three)[Internet]. (2017, September; 15(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 15.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2017

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,875

ISSN 2369-6885

1

Abstract

An interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. She discusses: jobs to save money for Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization; origination and development of the relationship with the nurse; meaning of parental support and encouragement; parental support in spite of parent hesitancy about travels of their child; responsibilities with public recognition; content and purpose of the film Morgan’s Kids; meaning of the exposure; and well-meaning, but misguided, foreigners giving aid, volunteer time, support, and exposure in the media to corrupt organizations.

Keywords: Humanitarianism, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Morgan Wienberg.

An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C.: Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization (Part Two)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

*Images in Appendix I: Photographs.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization (LFBS) is a registered charity, which emerged out of this endeavour based on collaboration with a nurse, Sarah Wilson. However, you needed finance. You mentioned one job. You worked three jobs to save enough money. What two other jobs?

Morgan Wienberg: I had about $25,000 saved for university at the time. I started with personal savings. I went in 2010 for 2 ½ months. Before I left to return to Canada, I decided to come back. I deferred university. I went back to Canada, but worked 3 jobs for 6 months before going back to Haiti. I intended to go to Haiti. I went to work to save additional funds.

I worked at a bakery. It was a bakery, restaurant, and yoga studio in one. I worked there for a few years. The community gave generous tips. I worked at the local animal shelter looking after the dogs, e.g. cleaning the cages. If I worked at the bakery starting at 5 in the morning, I would work at the animal shelter in the afternoon. Also, I did a lot of babysitting. I worked in a women’s gym through exercise classes and so on. I cleaned houses for neighbours too.

2. Jacobsen: How did this relationship with the nurse originate and develop for you?

Wienberg: My first time in Haiti, in 2010, staying in a compound with Mission of Hope. There many other volunteers there. I was there for 2 ½ months. During those 2 ½ months, Sarah Wilson came for a few weeks. She was working in the medical clinic. I was going off to the orphanage. We were sleeping in the same living quarters. We met that way.

She visited the orphanage a couple of times. I tried to get medical teams to see the sick kids. She saw the orphanage at that point. Further down the road, when I returned to Haiti and was working with the orphanage, we kept in touch on social media. She followed me. When I was back in Haiti living in the orphanage with the kids, she sent an email.

She said, “I’ve been following what you’ve been doing. You need support. I did this course. Do you want create an organization to support what you’ve been doing?” Of course, I said, “Yes!” We completed the forms to become a formal charity.

3. Jacobsen: Your mother remains part of Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization as the Director/Chair of the Board. She supports this endeavour. Many mothers, and fathers, might feel hesitant to permit their gifted child to pursue this endeavour. For instance, the possible risk of sexual assault or abuse in a foreign country. What does parental support and encouragement mean to you?

Wienberg: She is a huge part of the organization. In the beginning, I had to do fundraising with donors. She took that on for us. It allows me to be in Haiti for the long-term. I can work with the local staff and develop programs while here. In the beginning, I wasn’t able to do it. I had to focus on fundraising and communicating with sponsors.

4. Jacobsen: She has graduate level training relevant to this, too.

Wienberg: Yes.

5. Jacobsen: Many parents with gifted children or a gifted child, even a child for that matter, might feel hesitant to permit their child to pursue this endeavour.

Wienberg: [Laughing].

6. What does that parental support mean to you?

Wienberg: It has allowed me to succeed because she is there for me if I need her. There are instances where talking to mom is a comfort. At the same time, she does not restrict me. I never knew that I would have thought that I could have accomplished what I have or influence this number of people. I never would have been able to push myself or explore capabilities if she had limited me.

It is something extremely hard as a parent. You want to protect your child. At the same time, there are physical risks, a new country, being on your own, emotional pain and struggles, and so on. Knowing that, it can be hard sometimes. At the same time, going through it, I grew a lot and achieved more than I realized is possible. As a parent, it is allowing the child to grow and learn, and become an individual and explore their capabilities.

Also, it is being there to support them. If they do need to call on you, they can call on you and are there for them. It has been hard for her. In the beginning, I didn’t communicate much with her. I didn’t have internet access. The living conditions, I didn’t let her know about it. It might or might not have changed things. After the first couple of times, I was sick coming back to Canada.

Her allowing me to pursue these things was self-less and truly supporting me rather than reacting based on her own feelings, which would have limited me.

7. Jacobsen: You have profiles and representation in numerous outlets including text publications and video interviews.[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34],[35],[36],[37] What responsibilities come with this public recognition?

Wienberg: It’s not only being in the media, internationally. For example, in the community in Haiti (Les Cayes), I am well-known to them. I represent an organization. It is a situation where every single thing I do is being watched as a representation of an organization. I have to make decisions, conscientiously. On an international level, when I go back to Whitehorse, it can be hard to relax or have ‘down time’.

It is about responding, community events, and so on. Everyone recognizes you. It is wonderful to have the recognition. It is encouraging with the support, but it can be hard to have personal time. With decisions made by me, I have to think about the influence on the people supported by me and the organization. Oftentimes, I am making decisions on a representative-of-the-organization level. People are counting on me.

8. Jacobsen: Jimmy Arrant and Ryan Sheetz work on Morgan’s Kids.[38] A documentary film about the work by you. What’s the content and purpose of the film?

Wienberg: The purpose of the film is to raise awareness about Little Footprints Big Steps and the kids in the program, who I work with in Haiti. Also, the larger theme of the orphanage system and family reunification. Family care is much better for vulnerable children. That is the huge issue in Haiti. Also, it is an issue in other developing countries. International aid will support orphanages and institutions.

That is in opposition to family care. It is to raise awareness about the general concept. Multiple international entities do not know. The international community is unaware. The content of the film is based in Haiti with focus on the families, children, and my staff. Jimmy and Ryan came to Haiti 3 or 4 times. They visited and spent time in the safe houses.

They visited families with the staff. Also, they came to Miami, when I travelled with one of the former children. The child was having surgery, Ysaac. I brought him to Miami twice for surgery. It was Ysaac’s first time travelling to the States. Ryan and Jimmy were there at the airport for the arrival. They captured the child’s first experiences travelling.

They were there for the first surgery. They captured that part of the story. It is a powerful example of the possible change when a child’s environment changes. He’s a great example for everything we work for here. Ryan and Jimmy came to Whitehorse, Yukon to film the community. It was to look into the influences on me, which lead to personal accomplishments. They have thorough coverage of the whole story.

For example, with some of the parents with children that were in the corrupt orphanage, the parents went to reclaim them from the orphanage because of the mistreatment. We have stories with the parents explaining the reason for giving their children to the orphanage. They talk about how things changed when the children came back.

It includes messages coming from the parents and children themselves.

9. Jacobsen: What does this exposure mean to you?

Wienberg: I am excited to have their stories heard by others because many children have been taught that they need to be silent to protect themselves. I have been trying to teach them their power to influence others and to help others, especially with them in a better situation now. It is an example of the negative things happening to them that hurt them can be used to tell the stories, raise awareness, and help other people.

These children and families telling the stories have the opportunity for exposure and influence others. It makes me incredibly proud and excited about them. Also, I am hoping this will continue the shift. There is a shift in Haiti on the institutionalization at the moment. It is moving away from orphanages and back to family-based care, e.g., foster homes. I want the rest of the global community to be aware and support of it.

There is a lot of work to be done on raising awareness that the children face exploitation and abuse in orphanages, which is supported by foreigners. I hope this will accomplish raising awareness.

10. Jacobsen: What about well-meaning, but misguided, foreigners giving aid, volunteer time, support, and exposure in the media to these corrupt organizations?

Wienberg: That allows them to thrive. It is common – so incredibly common. This orphanage was identified by the local authorities as ‘Code Red’ and needing to be shut down. Children died inside. Children were being trafficked. The owner offered five kids to me for $800 each. There are children whose parents refuse to give them up. The orphanages took them, kidnapped them.

There were at least 6 different foreign Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) supporting the orphanage with money, donations, and time. It was perpetuating the problem. This woman was able to run her ‘business’, the orphanage, for over 20 years. I advocated to shut it down. Hundreds of thousands of people, foreigners, visited the orphanage before me.

They cried over kids’ conditions, but did not do anything to change or question it. It is like you said before. They are “well-intentioned.” It is a vicious cycle. If the kids are more sick, then the more urgently foreigners will want to help them. This has the orphanage owner neglecting the kids, keeping them as sick as possible, keeping them barefoot and with as little clothing as possible, and so on.

That will get more support. If you are at an orphanage with well-fed, well-dressed kids, and not emotionally damaged and lacking attachment, if you walk into an orphanage and the kids seem healthy and are not crying, you will not feel as pushed, urgently, to give support or aid to the orphanage. However, that orphanage is taking better care of the children.

It is counterintuitive. Those orphanages that treat children worse will get more aid. That makes orphanages good business to have there. Also, it is undermining the efforts of local authorities, which is another issue. Foreign aid coming into Haiti does not approach the government or the local authorities because there is a level of mistrust and the perception of the Haitian government as corrupt.

I have dealt with corruption. I have developed a strong relationship with local government institutions and have worked together with the police. There is corruption, but it is not all of them. The social services have social workers who have not been paid for 3 months or do not have a contract. They go to work, even on Saturdays.

You would not find that in North America. So, the government workers are genuinely committed. They are committed to the children. If the local government is looking to shut down the orphanage and international NGOs come in without approaching the authorities and support the orphanage, then they are undermining the efforts of the local authorities.

There is a huge need for increased communication between NGOs coming into the country and the local authorities, which requires a level of open-mindedness and trust for international entities to work with the local authorities. The only way to address the issues is on a long-term scale. If it is all NGOs coming in here, and if we do not work to increase the capacity of the local authorities, then we’re working on a short-term solution.

We need to work on a long-term solution.

References

[David Truman]. (2016, March 9). Morgan. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWbgIF1NO5E.

[DevelopingPictures]. (2012, March 25). Sponsor a Child: Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjzncB3HsmA.

[James Pierre]. (2016, April 5). Morgan Wienberg goes one-on-one with James Pierre. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1VMeKKTxkM.

[Morgan Wienberg]. (2014, June 3). Congratulations, FH Grad 2014!. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNQ7PB95aYA.

[Ryan Sheetz]. (2015, February 20). Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9fdPx1srGI.

Bailey, G. (2013, December 31). Catch Yukoner Morgan Wienberg tomorrow on CBC’s Gracious Gifts. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/airplay/features/2013/12/31/catch-yukoner-morgan-wienberg-tomorrow-on-cbcs-gracious-gifts/.

Baker, R. (2016, March 4). PHOTOS Governor General recognizes exceptional Canadians in Vancouver. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/governor-general-recognizes-exceptional-canadians-in-vancouver-1.3476960.

Broadley, L. (2014, August 1). Meet the Yukoner reuniting Haitian ‘orphans’ with their families. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/1482839/one-yukoners-work-reuniting-haitian-orphans-with-their-families/.

Bruemmer, R. (2011, April 8). Haiti: Little Paul gets it done. Retrieved from http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/haiti+little+paul+gets+done/5214066/story.html.

CBC News. (2015, November 29). Morgan Wienberg awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/morgan-wienberg-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.3340295.

ca. (n.d.). 23-year-old receives Meritorious Service Cross Medal. Retrieved from http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=804018&playlistId=1.2769055&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1.

ca Staff. (2016, February 8). 23-year-old awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/23-year-old-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.2769013.

Dolphin, M. (2015, December 4). Yukoner’s work in Haiti draws governor general’s attention. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/life/yukoners-work-in-haiti-draws-governor-generals-attention/.

Gillmore, M. (2012, July 18). Helping to reunite families in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-to-reunite-families-in-haiti.

Gillmore, W. (2013, August 16). Wienberg gives New York a glimpse of Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/wienberg-gives-new-york-a-glimpse-of-haiti/.

Gjerstad, S. (2014, April 8). Morgan (22) vier livet sitt til å gjenforene barn med foreldrene sine på Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.tv2.no/a/5852686/.

Joannou, A. (2016, March 7). Governor general gives nod to Yukon’s champion of Haitian children. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/governor-general-gives-nod-to-yukons-champion-of-haitian-children/.

Langham, M. (2012, October 10). Just Like Us: An Interview with Morgan Wienberg of Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from http://aconspiracyofhope.blogspot.ca/2012/10/just-like-us-interview-with-morgan.html.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com.

Neel, T. (2013, May 16). Reaching the Hearts of Children in Need. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/reaching-the-hearts-of-children-in-need/#sthash.YCSvg1aM.oVLAQE3j.dpbs.

Peacock, A. (2016, February 27). Haiti has her heart. http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/news/local_news/article_beb828d0-ddcf-11e5-851b-8b09487f61ce.html?mode=story.

(2014, July 8). Joven canadiense decide gastar sus ahorros en rescatar niños de Haití. Retrieved from http://www.elpais.com.uy/vida-actual/joven-canadiense-reune-huerfanos-haitianos.html.

Rodgers, E. (2015, January 12). Meet the 22-Year-Old Who Skipped Out on College—to Offer a Helping Hand in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/01/12/meet-morgan-wienberg-little-foot-big-step.

Schott, B.Y. (2012, September 13). Making a Difference One Child at a Time. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/making-a-difference-one-child-at-a-time/#sthash.CeS656Xm.2r1eJsAW.dpbs.

Shiel, A. (2011, November 17). McGill students host third annual TEDxMcGill even. Retrieved from http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2011/11/mcgill-students-host-third-annual-tedxmcgill-event/.

Thompson, J. (2011, December 23). Helping Haiti for the holidays. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-haiti-for-the-holidays.

Thompson, J. (August 12). Hope and hard lessons in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/hope-and-hard-lessons-in-haiti.

Thomson Reuters. (2014, July 27). 22-year-old Yukoner reunites Haitian ‘orphans’ with parents. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/22-year-old-yukoner-reunites-haitian-orphans-with-parents-1.2719559.

Waddell, S. (2015, November 27). For decorated Yukoner, home is now Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/for-decorated-yukoner-home-is-now-haiti.

Whitehorse Star. (2016, March 2). Yukoners to receive honours from Governor General. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/yukoners-to-receive-honours-from-governor-general.

Wienberg, M. (2013, November 22). Age Is Not an Obstacle in Changing the World. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-wienberg/age-is-not-an-obstacle_b_4324563.html.

Wienberg, M. (2014, January 23). Courage of a Mother. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/courage-of-a-mother/#sthash.hy1QzF0S.ZA1StSZz.dpbs.

Woodcock, R. (2013, September 26). Back to School in Haiti. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/back-to-school-in-haiti/#sthash.TMqQNkLX.dpbs.

Yukon News. (2013, February 6). Incredible acts of kindness in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/letters-opinions/incredible-acts-of-kindness-in-haiti.

Appendix I: Photographs

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Appendix II: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2011 at www.in-sightjournal.com; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2018 at www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two.

[3] Meritorious Service Cross (M.S.C.), Government of Canada; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; Governor General of Canada Academic Awards; Yukon Commissioner Award; Finalist, Young Women Impacting Social Justice, The Berger-Marks Foundation; Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship Award for Humanitarian Impact, Rotary International; Keynote Speaker (2013), United Nations Youth Assembly.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Morgan Wienberg.

[5] CBC News. (2015, November 29). Morgan Wienberg awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/morgan-wienberg-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.3340295.

[6] Waddell, S. (2015, November 27). For decorated Yukoner, home is now Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/for-decorated-yukoner-home-is-now-haiti.

[7] Rodgers, E. (2015, January 12). Meet the 22-Year-Old Who Skipped Out on College—to Offer a Helping Hand in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/01/12/meet-morgan-wienberg-little-foot-big-step.

[8] Thomson Reuters. (2014, July 27). 22-year-old Yukoner reunites Haitian ‘orphans’ with parents. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/22-year-old-yukoner-reunites-haitian-orphans-with-parents-1.2719559.

[9] CTVNew.ca Staff. (2016, February 8). 23-year-old awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/23-year-old-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.2769013.

[10] Joannou, A. (2016, March 7). Governor general gives nod to Yukon’s champion of Haitian children. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/governor-general-gives-nod-to-yukons-champion-of-haitian-children/.

[11] Baker, R. (2016, March 4). PHOTOS Governor General recognizes exceptional Canadians in Vancouver. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/governor-general-recognizes-exceptional-canadians-in-vancouver-1.3476960.

[12] Thomson, S. (2015, January 11). IN DEPTH Haiti quake’s effects still felt by Canadians on anniversary of disaster. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/haiti-quake-s-effects-still-felt-by-canadians-on-anniversary-of-disaster-1.2893435.

[13] Wienberg, M. (2013, November 22). Age Is Not an Obstacle in Changing the World. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-wienberg/age-is-not-an-obstacle_b_4324563.html.

[14] Shiel, A. (2011, November 17). McGill students host third annual TEDxMcGill even. Retrieved from http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2011/11/mcgill-students-host-third-annual-tedxmcgill-event/.

[15] Bruemmer, R. (2011, April 8). Haiti: Little Paul gets it done. Retrieved from http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/haiti+little+paul+gets+done/5214066/story.html.

[16] Gjerstad, S. (2014, April 8). Morgan (22) vier livet sitt til å gjenforene barn med foreldrene sine på Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.tv2.no/a/5852686/.

[17] Reuters. (2014, July 8). Joven canadiense decide gastar sus ahorros en rescatar niños de Haití. Retrieved from http://www.elpais.com.uy/vida-actual/joven-canadiense-reune-huerfanos-haitianos.html.

[18] Gillmore, M. (2012, July 18). Helping to reunite families in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-to-reunite-families-in-haiti.

[19] Thompson, J. (2011, August 12). Hope and hard lessons in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/hope-and-hard-lessons-in-haiti.

[20] Thompson, J. (2011, December 23). Helping Haiti for the holidays. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-haiti-for-the-holidays.

[21] Langham, M. (2012, October 10). Just Like Us: An Interview with Morgan Wienberg of Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from http://aconspiracyofhope.blogspot.ca/2012/10/just-like-us-interview-with-morgan.html.

[22] Schott, B.Y. (2012, September 13). Making a Difference One Child at a Time. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/making-a-difference-one-child-at-a-time/#sthash.CeS656Xm.2r1eJsAW.dpbs.

[23] Yukon News. (2013, February 6). Incredible acts of kindness in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/letters-opinions/incredible-acts-of-kindness-in-haiti.

[24] Neel, T. (2013, May 16). Reaching the Hearts of Children in Need. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/reaching-the-hearts-of-children-in-need/#sthash.YCSvg1aM.oVLAQE3j.dpbs.

[25] Gillmore, W. (2013, August 16). Wienberg gives New York a glimpse of Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/wienberg-gives-new-york-a-glimpse-of-haiti/.

[26] Woodcock, R. (2013, September 26). Back to School in Haiti. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/back-to-school-in-haiti/#sthash.TMqQNkLX.dpbs.

[27] Bailey, G. (2013, December 31). Catch Yukoner Morgan Wienberg tomorrow on CBC’s Gracious Gifts. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/airplay/features/2013/12/31/catch-yukoner-morgan-wienberg-tomorrow-on-cbcs-gracious-gifts/.

[28] Wienberg, M. (2014, January 23). Courage of a Mother. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/courage-of-a-mother/#sthash.hy1QzF0S.ZA1StSZz.dpbs.

[29] Dolphin, M. (2015, December 4). Yukoner’s work in Haiti draws governor general’s attention. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/life/yukoners-work-in-haiti-draws-governor-generals-attention/.

[30] Peacock, A. (2016, February 27). Haiti has her heart. http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/news/local_news/article_beb828d0-ddcf-11e5-851b-8b09487f61ce.html?mode=story.

[31] Whitehorse Star. (2016, March 2). Yukoners to receive honours from Governor General. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/yukoners-to-receive-honours-from-governor-general.

[32] [Ryan Sheetz]. (2015, February 20). Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9fdPx1srGI.

[33] [James Pierre]. (2016, April 5). Morgan Wienberg goes one-on-one with James Pierre. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1VMeKKTxkM.

[34] [DevelopingPictures]. (2012, March 25). Sponsor a Child: Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjzncB3HsmA.

[35] [Morgan Wienberg]. (2014, June 3). Congratulations, FH Grad 2014!. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNQ7PB95aYA.

[36] [David Truman]. (2016, March 9). Morgan. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWbgIF1NO5E.

[37] [TEDxTalks]. (2011, December 12). TEDxMcGill – Morgan Wienberg – Will You Choose to Destroy the Web?. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NRq7lLjw_k.

[38] [Ryan Sheetz]. (2015, February 20). Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9fdPx1srGI.

[1] Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2017, at www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2018, at www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Meritorious Service Cross (M.S.C.), Government of Canada; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; Governor General of Canada Academic Awards; Yukon Commissioner Award; Finalist, Young Women Impacting Social Justice, The Berger-Marks Foundation; Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship Award for Humanitarian Impact, Rotary International; Keynote Speaker (2013), United Nations Youth Assembly; Finalist (2012), Edna Award, International Women’s Rights.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Morgan Wienberg.

[5] Co-Founder/Head of Haiti Operations: MORGAN WIENBERG, M.S.C. (2016) states:

Raised in Canada’s far northern city of Whitehorse, Yukon, throughout her youth, Morgan volunteered with non-profit organizations and developed an all-consuming interest in human rights. In 2010, six months after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, this high school valedictorian traded her snow boots for sandals and set off for the devastated country. What was meant to be a short trip changed her life – and countless others – forever.

Morgan volunteered in an orphanage and found the conditions to be appalling. She witnessed children that were neglected, beaten, and starved. In some cases, children were used as slaves or sold, as if they were property. Although it was sorely needed, the children were denied medical attention. Morgan discovered that children had been sent to the orphanage by their parents in the mistaken belief that their children would be offered food, education, and loving care. Morgan began to work towards reuniting children with their families.

In 2011, Morgan co-founded Little Footprints, Big Steps (LFBS). Morgan continues to live in Haiti, leading the organization with integrity, creativity and perseverance. Forging partnerships and collaborations with other non-profits and with Haitian government; spearheading initiatives and piloting programs; hiring and guiding Haitian staff; managing the program administration; tirelessly pouring love and encouragement into all of the children and families that come her way.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). Co-Founder/Head of Haiti Operations: MORGAN WIENBERG, M.S.C.. Retrieved from http://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com/about-us/meet-mogan/.

[6] CTVNews.ca. (n.d.). 23-year-old receives Meritorious Service Cross Medal. Retrieved from http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=804018&playlistId=1.2769055&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1.

[7] Ibid.

Appendix III: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two) [Online].September 2017; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, September 8). An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A, September. 2017. <www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A (September 2017). www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):September. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part Two)[Internet]. (2017, September; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/morgan-wienberg-part-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 15.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,147

ISSN 2369-6885

1

Abstract

An interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. She discusses: geographic, cultural, and linguistic background, source of giftedness; early indications of general ability and motivation; support from Karen Wienberg; advice for gifted kids in pursuit of their dreams; recommendations on parenting; influence of an Anglophone home; support from the school for giftedness; executive function research and implications for school performance on average; community support for giftedness; the appeal of Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake; and emotional connections with the children.

Keywords: Humanitarianism, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Morgan Wienberg.

An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C.: Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization (Part One)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

*Images in Appendix I: Photographs.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: In terms of geography, culture, and language, where does your personal and familial background reside?[5]

Morgan Wienberg: I was born in Terrace, British Columbia. Since I was 9, I developed in Whitehorse, Yukon. My primary language Is English. During school for me, French is a second language. At home, I was speaking the English language. (Laughs) My family lineage is German. My grandparents are from Yugoslavia and Germany. They emigrated to Canada after the war and met in Vancouver.

2. Jacobsen: You were a gifted child and adolescent. Now, you are a gifted adult. Your accomplishments and personality show this, and I interviews, correspondence, and interaction here. For instances, the personal high independent moral standard of conduct and being valedictorian for high school. What seems like the source of this to you?

Wienberg: I was always very, very highly motivated, very ambitious, and a perfectionist. It was to an unhealthy point. I was hard on myself. I had the desire to surpass expectations. If there was something for me, then I wanted to do it. That came from me. There was not an outside pressure.

My mother and teachers wanted relaxation from me, to be a kid. In fifth grade, my mom put a timer on me. So, I could not do more than an hour of homework. It upset me. I was bothered by it. It was an inner desire to overachieve. I am an overachiever.

3. Jacobsen: Were there early indications of this general ability and motivation?

Wienberg: On an academic level, since primary school, I remember in 4th and 5th grade. If I was writing and did not like the look of the handwriting, I would rewrite it. In high school, it was extreme. I wanted to get 100%. Once, in biology, I earned more than 100% for doing bonus work. Also, I was particular about food. I was a purist.

As a child, which is bizarre, I was particular about consumption, the environment around me, and treatment of people. I wanted to be a perfect daughter from mom. In school, I wanted to be the model student. I was obedient. I had personal growth through work in Haiti. I have placed personal history in perspective. I am ambitious. However, I am healthier with the perfectionism.

I had a sensitivity to animals and the environment. In 4th grade, I formed a group with best friends. We were advocates for the environment. We advocated against pollution and for animal rights.  I was in 4th grade! (Laughs) I would write a logo at the top of each assignment. It was about being nice to animals.

I did a lot of volunteering in high school for the community. I was the youngest in multiple volunteering activities. I was a Board Member of the Anti-Poverty Coalition. I was a Board Member of the Human Society of Yukon. I was the youngest board member for each of them. There was a campaign to raise awareness about homelessness. Participants would spend one week homeless.

They were not allowed home for the week, or to have a backpack with them. It was in October. That is a dangerous time in the Yukon. (Laughs) I participated in it. I was sleeping on the street in Yukon. I was in 10th or 11th grade. I went to school. I attempted to find a place to sleep. I developed empathy for the homeless.

Same thing with the street kids in Haiti. I spent the night with them. At that point, I spent the time with the homeless in the Yukon and the street kids in Haiti. People in the Whitehorse community were candidates for local government positions. Age was never an obstacle for me. I had mature interests than individuals around the same age as me.

I thought about animals. I thought about the environment. I thought about people around me. I was extremely focused on academics.

4. Jacobsen: Your giftedness, focus on academics, and sensitivity and compassion for “beings” around you were nurtured by Karen Wienberg. Your mother nurtured these gifts and talents. Although, based on the story about the timer to reduce hours spent on homework, your mother might ‘nurture’ via disincentivizing extremes. We have narratives about gifted individuals going to extremes. For other examples, what support came from her?

Wienberg: Absolutely, she nurtured me. my mom is a very strong and independent woman. She is intelligent and hardworking. She is open-minded. She is a role model for me. Later, this arose in me. It helped me. I overcame obstacles starting in Haiti. She always believed in me. It was not about her. That was one of the biggest supports from her.

If I changed my mind, she would not be persistent on the first thing. She encouraged trying new things. Even with my younger brother, she wanted him to know about other religions. She wanted him to volunteer in different things. Whether volunteering or other things, she encouraged me. She joined the Humane Society of Yukon and involved with the volunteering, too.

I would cook food for the homeless shelter. I was excited. She said, “We need food in our house as well!” (Laughs)

(Laughs)

Take, for example, age 5 or 6, she asked about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would list a bunch of occupations. She would think, “Okay…” (Laughs) She supported any endeavor for me. She would back me up. That helped me. I didn’t see obstacles, at least easily. (Laughs)

5. Jacobsen: I want to parse two perspectives: gifted kid and parent. Any advice for gifted kids in pursuit of their dreams?

Wienberg: Do not allow other people’s perceptions to limit you. Do not allow your thoughts about what others think about you limit you. Age, gender, and happenstance of geography should not be a factor in personal success. I strongly believe this: mentality and ambition have the greatest influence on your ability to accomplish personal dreams.

However, if you question your ability to do it, or let outside influence the doubt of your ability, then that will be an obstacle for you.

6. Jacobsen: Any recommendations on parenting?

Wienberg: I am in a position of parenting. I work with many different types of parents. I am working with kids now. Some of them have developed without parental influence. I see their different development. I work with kids with irresponsible parents. They influence the children in a negative way. Things are taken for granted by me. These children lack proper parenting.

I see them develop in a different way with different support. It gives insight into my childhood and how my mother influenced me. When I say “mother,” I mean mother alone, single mother I never met my biological father in person. I have been in touch through e-mail. I knew about him. I never thought of being raised by a single mother because I never felt in need of anything. An independent woman raised me.

I never saw being an independent woman as any type of weakness. My mom was a strong role model for it. One important thing with parenting. You need to accept the mentality of supporting the child. You’re there for them, not you. You should want them to develop into an individual. You are there to offer guidance. However, the ambitions and the dreams of the child need to come from within the child.

You need to remove yourself. Whatever that child develops a liking to or an interest in, or sees as something to strive to achieve, your role is to support them in being a strong enough individual to have those dreams and attempt to approach them. Oftentimes, parents focus more on influencing their own aspirations for the child as opposed to building the child’s personal strengths. The child can take on their own ambition.

7. Jacobsen: You developed in a majority Anglophone home. How did this influence perspective? For those without the cultural heritage of Canadian provinces and territories, in Canada, we have the Anglophone and Francophone split.

Wienberg: Although, my family was Anglophone. My community was a heavy Francophone influence around me. Some friends were French speaking. I enjoyed learning French in school. I enjoyed using French on a personal level. I do not know if this affected me, at least not too much. In Haiti, it helped me, but I did not know Creole.

8. Jacobsen: Back to the main line of thought from the personal and parental perspective, what about the school for support?

Wienberg: I always felt the school was supportive. My teachers allowed me to advance as well. There could be an improvement with schools networking more. If students are gifted or ambitious, then they could make suggestions to connect those students with real-life situations, where the students could influence accomplishing something with the gifts as opposed to funneling things into academics.

9. Jacobsen: Tier 1 Canada Research Chair at The University of British Columbia Professor Adele Diamond researches executive function (EF). She finds the counter-intuitive educational focus is the correct thing. Her research shows the need to focus on things around education to improve educational performance and completion rates on average: play, dance, extra curricular, social life, and so on. EF is twice as predictive as IQ in educational outcomes based on the research.

Wienberg: When I was in school, I was less involved in extra curricular activities because I was pouring time into academics. Experiential knowledge helps a lot. Also, certain skills acquired through socialization and taking on responsibilities/positions like confidence, public speaking, networking, and so on. Those can allow for greater impact with the gifts that you have in life. It allows them to go further.

10. Jacobsen: What about the community?

Wienberg: I grew up in a unique community. It was a small town in Yukon. It is full of creative people. It was good for me. I had a lot of opportunities for involvement. There are many groups of people doing many things. The majority of people are open-minded.  I showed up at 16 or 17 to be on the Board of Directors for the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition

All of the older people in the group were excited about and supportive of it. I did not receive criticism. I was not told that I was too young, that it was silly, and so on. Everyone was excited about involvement from me. From the first job, it was the same thing. I was young. However, I was respected and encouraged. It was in this socially responsible bakery.

I was embraced as part of the family there. I worked there for 5 years. The same for the community. They supported me. Support from the community permitted the foundation of an organization. They knew me. They trusted me. I started the organization with tips from the community while working at the bakery.

11. Jacobsen: When the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, you noted the prominence in the media of the event as a salient thing for you.[6] You said, “I wanted to help. I wanted to help in a bigger way than just sending money. I wanted to connect with the people.”[7] From 2010, after graduation from high school, you traveled to Haiti for a trip. You interned with Mission of Hope Haiti. What seemed like the appeal of Haiti at the time?

Wienberg: At the time of the earthquake in January of 2010, I was about to graduate from high school. I planned to attend university in the Fall. I had this freedom during the Summer to travel. I always wanted to travel to Africa and work with kids. When the earthquake hit, my attention turned to Haiti. It was closer. It seemed in desperate need at the time. The timing coincided with the freedom to travel.

12. Jacobsen: The children seemed like the core connection for you. What emotional connections came out of this first trip for you?

Wienberg: I always, always, always, loved children. Since I was 12 years old, I would babysit a lot. I always loved looking after animals or children. Actually, from grade 5, my name was “mom” because I loved being maternalistic and looking after other people, even as a child. When I went to Haiti the first time in 2010, I had three roles as an intern.

I was working with patients in a prosthetic lab. When they received new prosthetic legs, they would stay for about a week in the compound. I stayed there too. I would look after them. I made sure food and hygiene items were there. I helped them with practicing their walking. Also, I was involved in teaching an English class to a group of young adults in the community.

I did not speak Creole at the time. I used French to teach the class. I was afraid at the thought of teaching a class. I did not feel qualified to do it. I graduated from high school two weeks prior to the experience. I thought, “They do not know English. I have English to offer them. They are eager to learn from me.” It helped build the confidence in the beginning.

The third role was starting interacting with this Haitian-run orphanage. I found out about the orphanage through an organization. I worked with the organization. When I visited the orphanage for the first time during the first visit, it was the worst conditions for human beings. I had never seen anything like it. I’d visited ten villages. All inhabitants were amputees. I visited other orphanages, where things were horrific. It needed more sustainable support.

Candy and holding the kids are not enough. People would cry about the horrific conditions and then leave. They did not do anything about it. I could not observe the children’s livelihood and then leave them. This specific group of children living in the orphanage became the motivation to return to Haiti. They changed my whole life. The thought, I could not forget about them and continue with life without changing the situation for them.

That’s changed my future forever.

References

[David Truman]. (2016, March 9). Morgan. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWbgIF1NO5E.

[DevelopingPictures]. (2012, March 25). Sponsor a Child: Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjzncB3HsmA.

[James Pierre]. (2016, April 5). Morgan Wienberg goes one-on-one with James Pierre. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1VMeKKTxkM.

[Morgan Wienberg]. (2014, June 3). Congratulations, FH Grad 2014!. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNQ7PB95aYA.

[Ryan Sheetz]. (2015, February 20). Little Footprints Big Steps. Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9fdPx1srGI.

Bailey, G. (2013, December 31). Catch Yukoner Morgan Wienberg tomorrow on CBC’s Gracious Gifts. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/airplay/features/2013/12/31/catch-yukoner-morgan-wienberg-tomorrow-on-cbcs-gracious-gifts/.

Baker, R. (2016, March 4). PHOTOS Governor General recognizes exceptional Canadians in Vancouver. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/governor-general-recognizes-exceptional-canadians-in-vancouver-1.3476960.

Broadley, L. (2014, August 1). Meet the Yukoner reuniting Haitian ‘orphans’ with their families. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/1482839/one-yukoners-work-reuniting-haitian-orphans-with-their-families/.

Bruemmer, R. (2011, April 8). Haiti: Little Paul gets it done. Retrieved from http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/haiti+little+paul+gets+done/5214066/story.html.

CBC News. (2015, November 29). Morgan Wienberg awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/morgan-wienberg-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.3340295.

ca. (n.d.). 23-year-old receives Meritorious Service Cross Medal. Retrieved from http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=804018&playlistId=1.2769055&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1.

ca Staff. (2016, February 8). 23-year-old awarded Meritorious Service Cross for work in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/23-year-old-awarded-meritorious-service-cross-for-work-in-haiti-1.2769013.

Dolphin, M. (2015, December 4). Yukoner’s work in Haiti draws governor general’s attention. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/life/yukoners-work-in-haiti-draws-governor-generals-attention/.

Gillmore, M. (2012, July 18). Helping to reunite families in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-to-reunite-families-in-haiti.

Gillmore, W. (2013, August 16). Wienberg gives New York a glimpse of Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/wienberg-gives-new-york-a-glimpse-of-haiti/.

Gjerstad, S. (2014, April 8). Morgan (22) vier livet sitt til å gjenforene barn med foreldrene sine på Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.tv2.no/a/5852686/.

Joannou, A. (2016, March 7). Governor general gives nod to Yukon’s champion of Haitian children. Retrieved from http://www.yukon-news.com/news/governor-general-gives-nod-to-yukons-champion-of-haitian-children/.

Langham, M. (2012, October 10). Just Like Us: An Interview with Morgan Wienberg of Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from http://aconspiracyofhope.blogspot.ca/2012/10/just-like-us-interview-with-morgan.html.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). Little Footprints, Big Steps. Retrieved from https://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com.

Neel, T. (2013, May 16). Reaching the Hearts of Children in Need. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/reaching-the-hearts-of-children-in-need/#sthash.YCSvg1aM.oVLAQE3j.dpbs.

Peacock, A. (2016, February 27). Haiti has her heart. http://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/news/local_news/article_beb828d0-ddcf-11e5-851b-8b09487f61ce.html?mode=story.

(2014, July 8). Joven canadiense decide gastar sus ahorros en rescatar niños de Haití. Retrieved from http://www.elpais.com.uy/vida-actual/joven-canadiense-reune-huerfanos-haitianos.html.

Rodgers, E. (2015, January 12). Meet the 22-Year-Old Who Skipped Out on College—to Offer a Helping Hand in Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/01/12/meet-morgan-wienberg-little-foot-big-step.

Schott, B.Y. (2012, September 13). Making a Difference One Child at a Time. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/making-a-difference-one-child-at-a-time/#sthash.CeS656Xm.2r1eJsAW.dpbs.

Shiel, A. (2011, November 17). McGill students host third annual TEDxMcGill even. Retrieved from http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2011/11/mcgill-students-host-third-annual-tedxmcgill-event/.

Thompson, J. (2011, December 23). Helping Haiti for the holidays. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/helping-haiti-for-the-holidays.

Thompson, J. (August 12). Hope and hard lessons in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/life/hope-and-hard-lessons-in-haiti.

Thomson Reuters. (2014, July 27). 22-year-old Yukoner reunites Haitian ‘orphans’ with parents. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/22-year-old-yukoner-reunites-haitian-orphans-with-parents-1.2719559.

Waddell, S. (2015, November 27). For decorated Yukoner, home is now Haiti. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/for-decorated-yukoner-home-is-now-haiti.

Whitehorse Star. (2016, March 2). Yukoners to receive honours from Governor General. Retrieved from http://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/yukoners-to-receive-honours-from-governor-general.

Wienberg, M. (2013, November 22). Age Is Not an Obstacle in Changing the World. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/morgan-wienberg/age-is-not-an-obstacle_b_4324563.html.

Wienberg, M. (2014, January 23). Courage of a Mother. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/courage-of-a-mother/#sthash.hy1QzF0S.ZA1StSZz.dpbs.

Woodcock, R. (2013, September 26). Back to School in Haiti. Retrieved from http://whatsupyukon.com/Lifestyle/making-a-difference/back-to-school-in-haiti/#sthash.TMqQNkLX.dpbs.

Yukon News. (2013, February 6). Incredible acts of kindness in Haiti. Retrieved from http://yukon-news.com/letters-opinions/incredible-acts-of-kindness-in-haiti.

Appendix I: Photographs

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Appendix II: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Coordinator, and Head of Haiti Operations, Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2017, at www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2018, at www.in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Meritorious Service Cross (M.S.C.), Government of Canada; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; Governor General of Canada Academic Awards; Yukon Commissioner Award; Finalist, Young Women Impacting Social Justice, The Berger-Marks Foundation; Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship Award for Humanitarian Impact, Rotary International; Keynote Speaker (2013), United Nations Youth Assembly; Finalist (2012), Edna Award, International Women’s Rights.

[4] Photograph courtesy of Morgan Wienberg.

[5] Co-Founder/Head of Haiti Operations: MORGAN WIENBERG, M.S.C. (2016) states:

Raised in Canada’s far northern city of Whitehorse, Yukon, throughout her youth, Morgan volunteered with non-profit organizations and developed an all-consuming interest in human rights. In 2010, six months after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, this high school valedictorian traded her snow boots for sandals and set off for the devastated country. What was meant to be a short trip changed her life – and countless others – forever.

Morgan volunteered in an orphanage and found the conditions to be appalling. She witnessed children that were neglected, beaten, and starved. In some cases, children were used as slaves or sold, as if they were property. Although it was sorely needed, the children were denied medical attention. Morgan discovered that children had been sent to the orphanage by their parents in the mistaken belief that their children would be offered food, education, and loving care. Morgan began to work towards reuniting children with their families.

In 2011, Morgan co-founded Little Footprints, Big Steps (LFBS). Morgan continues to live in Haiti, leading the organization with integrity, creativity and perseverance. Forging partnerships and collaborations with other non-profits and with Haitian government; spearheading initiatives and piloting programs; hiring and guiding Haitian staff; managing the program administration; tirelessly pouring love and encouragement into all of the children and families that come her way.

Little Footprints, Big Steps. (2016). Co-Founder/Head of Haiti Operations: MORGAN WIENBERG, M.S.C.. Retrieved from http://www.littlefootprintsbigsteps.com/about-us/meet-mogan/.

[6] CTVNews.ca. (n.d.). 23-year-old receives Meritorious Service Cross Medal. Retrieved from http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=804018&playlistId=1.2769055&binId=1.815911&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1.

[7] Ibid.

Appendix III: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One) [Online].September 2017; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, September 1). An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A, September. 2017. <www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 15.A (September 2017). www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 15.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 15.A (2017):September. 2017. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Morgan Wienberg, M.S.C. (Part One) [Internet]. (2017, September; 15(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/morgan-wienberg-part-one.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: August 15, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,579

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

An interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler. He discusses: advice for students wanting to engage in psychology; gaining research experience; being the director of The Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential; counterintuitive data; practical life skills; self–actualization and Maslow; and the remaining importance of the research.

Keywords: brain science, Jonathan Schooler, mindfulness, psychology.

An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler: Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara; Director, The Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Any advice for students with the intent to target and pursue undergraduate and graduate education in psychology?

Professor Jonathan Schooler: First off, I would say there are a lot of related fields in psychology. Routinely, students misunderstand what psychology is when they think about it first. Much of psychology is scientific in nature, it can be thought of as astronomy or biology, or chemistry, where it involves understanding empirical questions. When people hear psychology, they usually manage that you’re clinically trained and a big portion of what you do is therapy. That is certainly true for many people that call themselves psychologists, but there are many disciplines that do not involved clinical practice. I have absolutely no experience; I am not qualified to assist anybody than anyone else, except as a human being. However, students need to understand what the field of psychology entails, and scientific psychology, and the area, to understand the difference between the science of psychology and the practice of psychology.

If they are interested in the practice of psychology, they should understand there are a lot of other areas besides explicitly psychology, which involves the kinds of things they are really thinking about when they’re thinking about counselling. A lot of school’s of education have a counselling social work. Also, of course, there’s medical school and psychiatry. That is something to consider. In fact, if people want to treat people and are sufficiently talented, I would encourage either to go into psychiatry because it allows people to diagnose and provide drugs, and therapy. it is very helpful and something to consider, going to medical school as well.

If they want to follow along the lines of what I’ve pursued, then they nee to find a mentor, they need to really work tog et to know somebody in the field. They start by graduate students, who they can work with and getting to know a professor. But it is critical to find a mentor, keep your grades up, study hard, and really try to master, as best as you can, the GREs. Another thing is to make sure you are in contact with professors beforehand – make the letter thoughtfully related to their topic area.

It is another possibility. Several students have done this with me: volunteer to work with somebody whose work you find interesting such as moving there, working part-time. If you’re good, they will hire you. I have done this several times.

Jacobsen: What about acquisition of research experience at graduate and undergraduate levels? Much of the research that people will become involved in will tend to start at graduate level, but there are more and more opportunities at the undergraduate level, at more and more institutions. Do you have any advice there?

Schooler: So, people need to take advantage, as undergraduates, of office hours. It amazes me how rarely a student simply comes into the office hours and wants to talk about research, especially research I am doing in an informed and enthusiastic way.

Professors keep office hours. They keep them for those kinds of interactions. I would advise students to read up. I would find a professor who has research that you’re interested in, ask them questions, go in there, and then get excited. Then through that, you can generate ideas and become excited about their ideas.

Through that interaction, you can leverage that into opportunities for research. With respect to graduate students, one big analogy that I think is useful is having a diversified portfolio. I have two somewhat contradictory pieces of advice. I will try to resolve them.

One, you need to end up being the authority on something. You need to find your slice; your end goal; the thing you know the best in a field. That you can make a case of, wherever you’re going. Ideally, you’re going to diversify around that.

It is nice to not just be a one trick pony. You got to have that thing. How do you find that thing? This is where my other piece of advice comes in, which does seem opposite. You need to have a diversified set of interests in projects. Some are not necessarily the ones that will knock it out of the park.

But they are solid and programmatic, reliable, and so you know you’re accumulating progress. You are going to need to have solid experience and then accumulate publications, but then you also need to have the higher risk investments, which may not work.

Most of them won’t. But if one does, it will hit it out of park. Unless, you’re a genius. You can simply figure it out. My hat goes off to you. But my advice and my strategy has been this diversification approach.

Jacobsen: You are the Director for The Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential. What tasks and responsibilities come with this?

Schooler: My responsibilities will be evolving as it develops, as it is still developing. Historically, it is based on a series of projects that we have underway involving understanding the nature of mindfulness, exploring the benefits of programs that enhance mindfulness and other aspects of human potential and understanding the factors that underpin those benefits.

My responsibility involves overseeing the research and speaking with potential benefactors about contributing to it. Another very important aspect of our research is being supported by the Institute of Educational Science. It involves examining the benefits of introducing mindfulness practices into school settings and exploring the way they assist teachers and students in maximizing mindfulness.

Schooler: The major counterintuitive thing has been the ease with which we have been able to produce sustained and dramatic improvements in people’s combined wellbeing, cognitive performance, and changes in brain activity.

Jacobsen: What practical life skills can come from this line of research?

Schooler: We think this can be transformational. In that, it helps people to help themselves by appreciating their capacities for mental control and self-actualization. People can direct those skills towards whatever it is that they most want to manifest.

Jacobsen: You mentioned self-actualization. Does this research line to Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy?

Schooler: It does in spirit. We believe that the priorities that were expressed by Maslow and the Human Potential Movement were right on. The approach that we’re taking, however, is more modern and draws on research in mindfulness, mental sets, and the refinement of potential capacities.

Jacobsen: Why does this research center remain important to you?

Schooler: I believe the center is a way to integrate the insights of science and to merge those with the driving goals of a society.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara; Director, The Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 15, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two) [Online].August 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, August 15). An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, August. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (August 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):August. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Professor Jonathan Schooler (Part Two) [Internet]. (2017, August; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-professor-jonathan-schooler-part-two.

License and Copyright

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Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: August 8, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,395

ISSN 2369-6885

Gordon Guyatt

Abstract

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC. He discusses: practical health tips; most recent research; journalists and medical reporting; medical doctors and researchers making the research more accessible for journalists; being bothered when reading the news; wife as a researcher; collaborations with wife; organ replacement with machines; Metformin and use of substances without a prior condition; David Sackett and evidence-based medicine; genetic therapy for diseases; keeping Canada “competitive”; costs of medicine going up over time; and final feelings and thoughts.

Keywords: Canada, Gordon Guyatt, medicine.

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Aside from keeping aware of bad medicine, or knowing the research at large, what are the most practical tips Canadians can take into account for their own health, outside of quitting smoking?

Professor Gordon Guyatt: First, they don’t need to keep track of too many things. What they need to do is when they suffer from health problems, find out something about them and then they go to clinicians to help, asking clinicians about what the evidence is what is being suggested.

They should stop smoke. It would be one major thing people could unequivocally do for their health. Beyond that, there is strikingly little that you can be confident of. So we don’t know the best diets for improving health. We don’t know if particular diets are better than one another. We have a sense that it’s probably a good thing to exercise.

The evidence of the merits of the degree of impact that prevention might have on your health is limited. We have to screen for breast cancers, screening for colon cancer, and it turns out, the gains in terms of improving life span by those inventions are very minimal. You have to be screening hundreds if not thousands of individuals to have a single individual whose life span is prolonged.

So there is a lot of talk about prevention and trying to eat whatever you perceive as a healthy diet, or exercising, can’t be bad, but whether it’s really only going to have major positive health effects is much less certain.

2. Jacobsen: We last talked several months ago. I want to ask an update. What is your most recent research or research that’s ongoing?

Guyatt: I work with a number of people. It’s been a long time since I initiated my own research endeavors. I have much more fun helping other folks to lead theirs. I already mentioned PJ Devereaux who is working on investigation and management to prevent adverse cardiovascular events after noncardiac surgery.

Mohit Bhandari is leading the world in terms of interventions for orthopedic injuries. He’s the one who also is investigating low and middle-income country trauma, epidemiology, and eventually interventions to deal with that. I also have colleagues who work in the intensive care unit conducting clinical trials.

One of those trials in intensive care units is looking at whether treatments that have been around for a while in patients to prevent gastrointestinal bleeding may be doing more harm than good. Another colleague, who happens to be my wife, who is also an intensive care specialist, is looking at how we can improve the outcome of organ transplants by improving the care of organ donors who are in critical care units. So those are ones that come to mind in which I am involved.

3. Jacobsen: I’m going to make a transition to public information. So this is more self-reflective about journalists. We apparently live in an area of “fake news.” There’s a large amount of responsibility in being a journalist and delivering accurate information to the public.

I do not necessarily mean more tabloid magazines but in serious outlets. What are some mistakes that are common among journalists in general, when they report on medicine or new medical discoveries?

Guyatt: I am extremely sympathetic to the problems of journalists reporting health claims; we actually did some work in this area. I worked with journalists and published a paper suggesting guidance with the journalists. It was 15 or 20 years ago. My sympathies are because journalists, from my limited understanding of the journalistic world, are competing for space.

In the competition for space, it will be much more challenging if you report what might be an active, possible new treatment with possible modest effects, versus a new treatment that has bigger effects.  Most of the time our advances are limited and require cautious interpretation and that would possibly be less interesting to the general public and less likely to get an editor’s approval or a publication.

Health journalists have a big challenge that way. They can be involved with treatments that have been shown to be useless, or next to useless, that can legitimately grab their attention, especially when a lot of people use the ‘treatment.’ There are areas where the public has major concerns, so, for instance, we recently produced guidelines about the best way of using opioids for chronic noncancer pain.  This would be an area of major journalistic attention because of the opioid epidemic and its consequences.

But in many cases, it’s a challenge for journalists if they are going to operate at high integrity, follow various rules that we have suggested, knowing some of the basic principles of trustworthy versus less trustworthy evidence.  It’s also a good idea to be extremely attentive to issues of conflict of interest.  A researcher comes up with a new finding of whatever sort, and the researchers, even if they do not have a financial conflict of interest, they typically have an intellectual conflict of interest. Everybody thinks their own research is the best and everybody should pay attention to what they have found and what they have found must be closer to the truth.

As a result, the best people to go to about a research finding would not necessarily be the people who made the finding but other people working in the area who are in the position to take a much more dispassionate approach to what is found with that problem.  They shouldn’t be direct competitors who might want to underplay in general, but rather somebody who does not have either financial or intellectual conflict of interest would be a better way of getting closer to the truth.

4. Jacobsen: How can medical doctors or researchers make the information more accessible for journalists who don’t have, frankly, the expertise?

Guyatt: Gosh. I would say by explaining things, giving explanations that are understandable to the health journalists and teach them about the principles underlying the research. I try to do that all the time. So, for instance, in this conversation, when big data came up, I tried to explain why big data is not particularly trustworthy in terms of telling us about the magnitude of treatment effects.

That’s when talking about world research and other people’s research, an attempt to explain the underlying principles of what makes some evidence more trustworthy than others is what some researchers could do to help journalists.

5. Jacobsen: What is bothering you when you read the news and it’s reporting on medical science?

Guyatt: It is the failure to recognize the limitations. Indeed, it is unfortunate and I’m sympathetic to journalists who feel compelled to present things as more exciting or better than they actually are. There is a failure to attend to the conflict of interest of the sources that are being cited. Sometimes, journalists get missions about what they think is a good idea and what problems are, which is a natural human tendency; we believe in something, and so that is what we see.

People with particular missions can in every way run into trouble with difficulty seeing things.

6. Jacobsen: Your wife is also a researcher.

Guyatt: That’s right. She is a specialist who deals with critical illness in intensive care units and does research work in that area.

7. Jacobsen: Have you done any collaborations with her?

Guyatt: Yes, lots. She’s switched directions in her research career. She, for the first 15 years or so, did academic research looking at people who are critically ill who have breathing tubes in to breathe for them. Her first research was a number of important studies dealing with ventilation of people when you put in a breathing tube and then we breathe for them.

8. Jacobsen: Not only with organ donation, what about the future of, reasonable near future, organ replacement with machines? So as with artificial heart, a pacemaker for people that have Parkinson’s disease for and replacement of function for the damaged portions of their brain.

Guyatt: You are talking about areas beyond my expertise, but I think there is some evidence that warrants optimism in Parkinson’s disease. But probably for a very limited proportion of that population.

Mechanical heart transplants are not and never will be successful soon over the long term.  They may help people through a short period of time while they’re waiting for a human heart, but the mechanical hearts for not for the long term – that requires human hearts. It is, of course, a great priority in making sure that they try to optimize the availability of heart transplants and have the donors managed in such a way that the best outcomes can be possible for people who receive those transplants.

9. Jacobsen: There’s, maybe, 70 million Americans prescribed Metformin, the diabetes drug.

Guyatt: Yes.

10. Jacobsen: Some use this when they don’t even have diabetes. That is when I extrapolate that to people also using substances for “health” reasons when they don’t have a condition for which the substance is meant for, what is a concern for you as someone entrenched in the field?

Guyatt: I have no idea how much this happens. The question, why are people doing this? My concern in that area is what is called too much medicine. So why might people without diabetes take metformin?

One reason they might be doing so is the industry is now doing trials to prevent diabetes, which is extending the definition to lower and lower levels of blood sugar. So, you have people at lower and lower risks taking treatments, so you have people treating pre-diabetes and pre-hypertension.

The problem with those situations is you’re treating lower and lower risk individuals. You are expanding the proportion of the population taking the medication. You may well be doing more harm than good. So I don’t know why people, the people that you were thinking of, are taking medications, but one reason may be that the medical community has hugely expanded its range in intrusion into people’s lives – sometimes, unequivocally doing more good than harm. But as these expand the somewhat questionable range of sick people, almost nobody over 50 is actually healthy anymore.

11. Jacobsen: In our first interview, we talked about evidence-based medicine. Who was David Sackett? What was the importance of him to evidence-based medicine?

Guyatt: David Sackett was a guy who laid the groundwork for evidence-based medicine. Dave was my personal mentor and established the basis of my career. I, of course, learned enormous amounts. He was one of the pioneers with a clear vision about how physicians were not using evidence often to inform their patient care and made major contributions to advancing the science of how to do the best experiments and interpret their results in such a way that would optimize patient care.

He had a major initiative in starting to teach how to understand and interpret the evidence which was not part of medical training at the time. He talked about critical appraisal of the medical literature and then moved towards evidence-based medicine. He articulated many of the fundamental principles that subsequently became evidence-based medicine. Basically, he set the direction for all that we have done in disseminating evidence-based approaches worldwide.

12. Jacobsen: What diseases are given genetic therapy?

Guyatt: If you mean manipulating genes in one way or another for cancer therapy, there’s nothing I do in my clinical practice I would classify as gene therapy. So that it would be very sub-specialized at the moment.

13. Jacobsen: If you take Canada’s medical innovations and its medical research community, what can keep Canada “competitive” in that international market where those that lead in advances will lead in the technology?

Guyatt: This has to do with where you decide to specialize and building up, finding people with talents and leadership skills, and then you can become competitive and a world leader. So, 20 years or 25 years after evidence-based medicine got started, McMaster is one institution in Canada, not a big institution, considered the worldwide leader in continued advances in evidence-based medicine.

Another area in Hamilton and across Canada where a guy named Jack Hersh came, probably 40-50 years ago now, and trained a whole host of people who are still leading the world in a management of thrombosis. He is a world leader and in Canada. I have no doubt PJ Devereaux is leading the world in addressing cardiovascular complications of noncardiac surgery. He is training a whole host of people who is going continue to lead the world in the next generation.

Same with another colleague who is leading the world in orthopedic trauma clinical trials and training folks who will continue to play international leadership roles. So I, of course, am familiar with what goes on in my institution. I’m sure there are many people across Canada, saying, “Here’s an area that our institution is providing international leadership.”

If you find the right people and have the institutional commitment and focus, it’s quite possible for Canadians to take international leadership in a whole host of medical areas.

14. Jacobsen: Do you foresee the costs of medicine going up further over time for Canadians?

Guyatt: Yes, the main drivers of the cost of medicine are technological advances that have improved people’s health. Now, I think there’s a way of controlling things considerably if for example, we extend single payer to drugs, and if we get tough with not letting drug companies charge exorbitantly.

However, it’s a good thing that there’s always going to be a continual upward pressure in terms of cost because we keep discovering new ways to keep people healthy and these technological advances require some resources.

So I think by good management of the system we can limit costs, but the cost pressures are going to continue to the extent that we continue to find important new advances, technological advances, that contribute positively to health. In that sense, the cost pressures are a very good thing.

15. Jacobsen: Any final thoughts? Any thoughts or feelings based on the conversation today?

Guyatt: No, we covered a wide range of areas. One thought I had is you found out about some of my limitations in terms of breadth of knowledge about what’s going on outside of the areas I’m familiar with; I hopefully have offered something within the areas I am familiar with.

16. Jacobsen: Thank you very much for your time, and I hope you have a good day.

Guyatt: Okay, take care, bye-bye.

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Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Distinguished University Professor, Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 8, 2017, at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017, at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] B.Sc., University of Toronto; M.D., General Internist, McMaster University Medical School; M.Sc., Design, Management, and Evaluation, McMaster University.

[4] Credit: McMaster University.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six) [Online].August 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, August 8). An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, August. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (August 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):August. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Six) [Internet]. (2017, August; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-six.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 14.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nine)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,935

ISSN 2369-6885

Gordon Guyatt

Abstract

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC. He discusses: concerns about bogus medicine; big data and upper limits in health outcomes; coffee and randomized control trials; exciting research and health outcomes; ways the general public can avoid snake oil; possible examples of snake oil; antibiotic resistance; impressive research; vitamin fads; unsolved medical diseases; and cancer in Canada.

Keywords: Canada, coffee, Gordon Guyatt, medicine.

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)[1],[2]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, there are pervasive ideas in Canada, people with a functional healthcare system, a series of just bogus medical science and treatments. What is one of the main concerns with regards to them as a professional, a clinician?

It could be the whole gambit. It could be homeopathy; it could be crystals; it could be fake cancer therapies or private clinics giving stem cell therapies. You name it.

Dr. Gordon Guyatt: My familiarity with the magnitude of all of the things that you mentioned is limited. Some of the interventions are benign and not particularly costly, and of not much concern as a result. The interventions that might have harm associated with them, and would be more costly, would be a greater concern.

It has been speculated that homeopathy and alternative medicine and other interventions of that sort have a benefit because of the way medicine has evolved in terms of much more emphasis on technological aspects, and much less emphasis on caring and listening. I did not know the evidence if anyone has followed seriously over time, the use of alternative medicine.

I suspect the data may not be accurate, and so it is speculative whether their use has increased. Speculative on my part, but in the course of my 40 years in clinical practice, the emphasis on technological aspects has increased, and caring and listening to patients has decreased, and this might contribute to increased use of alternative interventions.

2. Jacobsen: We keep pushing into areas of bigger and bigger data, so we have more information about what the outcomes of certain treatments might be. Is there going to be an upper limit to how far we can take the health span of citizens for instance in Canada based on these advancements?

Guyatt: You’ve linked two things, but I would immediately be inclined to unlink. There is a great deal of excess optimism about what we can learn about treatments from large databases; large databases are essentially big observational studies that are terribly limited in making inferences about treatments because people who get treatment A are typically different than people who get treatment B.

As a result, one can make very easily spurious inferences about the effect of therapy. For an example, people who take antioxidant vitamins have less cancer and less cardiovascular disease than people who do not use antioxidant vitamins. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with antioxidant vitamins.

In randomized trials, there is no difference in cancer or cardiovascular disease in those who do and do not use antioxidant vitamins. The reason people who take antioxidant vitamins do better is that different people take antioxidant vitamins than those who don’t, and those people are destined to do better in terms of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

This is the fundamental problem faced by large databases. It can record if people receive treatment or not. What they cannot do is ensure that the people who did and did not use the treatment were similar with respect to their prognosis, and likely outcomes had they not used treatment.

Indeed, the likelihood is that they were different, and that leads to a biased testament effect. So the large databases are going to provide some information, but we are still going to need randomized trials to sort out other treatments. So that’s one thing.

A completely separate issue is life span. Medical treatments have certainly contributed to that, but advances in nutrition and housing and poverty reduction had more influence on extending the life span than having medical treatments.

Once again, speculative as to what the limits of biology are, the life span in advanced industrial society, most advanced industrial societies, particularly those with low-income gradients keep going up, up, and up. I think it’s speculative as to what the limit of that would be.

3. Jacobsen: You have given another common example, which is one that shows up in the news quite often. It’s coffee, and statements about its health effects. Is it possible or has it been extended, the research about antioxidants, for instance, in improving health, in randomized control trial? It doesn’t necessarily show up. Is it the same for coffee?

Guyatt: It would be challenging to do randomized trials of coffee. I don’t know that they’ve been done, but again, any influences about the health effects of coffee are confounded by the fact that there are all sorts of differences between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers. So until we have randomized trials, we’re going to have low quality evidence about the impact of coffee on various health outcomes.

4. Jacobsen: If we’re looking at the developments in medical research now, from a personal perspective, what is some of the more exciting research in development? From a professional perspective, what research has the most potential for improving health outcomes, especially for the aforementioned population such as the low income?

Guyatt: The best way to improve the health of low income folks is to decrease income gradients and that would have far more impact than any particular health interventions. If we could get everyone in society to stop smoking that would have a big impact: lifetime smokers have seven years shorter lifetimes than the lifespans of non-smokers, a far bigger gradient that can come from any particular health interventions.

So if we can persuade everyone to stop smoking, that would have an enormous impact on health. While medical innovations have made a big impact on both quality and quantity, there are other things like income gradients, like health habits – in particular, smoking – that have a bigger impact

Medical treatment has made a big impact on various areas, including cardiovascular disease and treatments and cancer. Those were made because those were the biggest sources of morbidity and mortality in society. That is where I see the biggest continuing potential: certainly, within the area of cancer, our understanding biology has advanced enormously.

We will keep seeing new therapies and prevention. Many cancers which were uniformly fatal have now been turned into chronic diseases. I expect that to continue.

5. Jacobsen: As a practical tip, how can the general public avoid snake oil, bogus remedies? Something simple.

Guyatt: What they can do is learn the basic principles of deciding what evidence is trustworthy and what is not.  That should be possible. A colleague of mine by the name of Andy Oxlan has completed a large randomized trial in Africa of teaching school age kids about recognizing, as you put it, snake oil from legitimate health claims.

His randomized trial showed that teaching the kids substantially improved their ability to make those distinctions. As a side effect, their parents’ ability to make those decisions improved. These are very low resource African settings. So there’s plenty of information that is potentially available to consumers about health claims.

Should people decide to educate themselves, they all would be in a position to make judgments themselves. They should certainly be in the position, even with quite limited knowledge, of asking their clinicians to justify what evidence there is to base what is being suggested and to challenge the physician or the clinician in explaining – to be made knowledgeable of the evidence that supports what they’re doing.

6. Jacobsen: Some of these fakes or snake oil sellers are predatory rather than true believers in it. Do any prominent examples come into mind?

Guyatt: I am maybe fortunately or unfortunately quite insulated from exposure to that. If I heard of anything, it would be through newspapers, and your knowledge would be as good as mine.

7. Jacobsen: There have been some international concerns about the effectiveness of antibiotics in the long term.

Guyatt: The concerns are multiple. There are many, many examples of antibiotics becoming ineffective as a result of bacteria developing resistance to the antibiotics. So that is a very real issue. It raises legitimate concern and suggestions that we should make sure that we’re only using the antibiotics when they are really warranted.

Efforts are ongoing to try and limit the use of unnecessary or inappropriate antibiotics; to the extent that we can limit their inappropriate use we can limit the emergence of resistance.

8. Jacobsen: Who is someone that’s combating or doing research to combat upcoming diseases that seem to be growing issues that really impresses you?

Guyatt: Oh gosh. I’m influenced by what I see immediately around me. So, efforts at, in terms of prevention, in low and middle-income countries reducing the increasing rates of motor vehicle accidents. As low and middle-income countries become higher income, it becomes a big problem in terms of motor vehicle accidents.

The efforts that can be made in terms of travel safety.  We have an emerging epidemic of motor vehicle accidents and the efforts to deal with that so far have not been made. There has been better medical management that the people have undergone, but the much bigger impact could be made in improving the safety of vehicular traffic.

That’s one major emerging threat where efforts to prevent it from growing would be public health, and regulatory efforts rather than simply medical interventions.

9. Jacobsen: In the past, vitamin E was a health fad. A more modern one, an ongoing one, is vitamin D. What is the research? What does it say?

Guyatt: The research does not support major health benefits for vitamin D for most people. Maybe for at least some sub-populations, there is a modest reduction in fractures. And perhaps in the elderly, a reduction in falls.  Very rarely, you have people who actually have serious vitamin d deficiency and they obviously need treatment, but those are few and far between. So that cancer prevention, for instance, evidence suggests that they do not have cancer preventing benefits and most of the other putative benefits that I have countered have not be substantiated. So maybe in subpopulations, at least a reduction in fractures and falls and that is really about all that’s been established.

10. Jacobsen: If you take into account instead of medical diseases around, and if you were to take into account your own personal fascination with one that’s unsolved, what is it and what are its characteristics?

Guyatt: So, one that occurs to me is an area investigation that one of the folks I work with by the name of PJ Devereaux is investigating is cardiovascular events after noncardiac surgery. Over the last 50 years, there’s been a huge increase in people undergoing noncardiac surgery – for conditions that we didn’t use to be able to treat surgically, e.g. joint replacements.

Associated with the increased number of people undergoing surgery, we’re operating on older and older people, and as the technology improves, we get to do that. The benefits are great, but it means that millions and millions of more people are undergoing noncardiac surgery. We have a substantial public health problem in terms of heart attacks and deaths from cardiovascular events following noncardiac surgery.

This has been a hugely under investigated area. Dr. Devereaux has been, as I said, leading the world in terms of starting to look at the magnitude of the problem, find out who is at risk, and start working towards developing strategies that would limit the heart attacks and deaths after noncardiac surgery.

11. Jacobsen: What is the general rate of cancer in the Canadian population?

Guyatt: I am a clinical epidemiologist in terms of investigating treatments and diagnosis and not somebody who follows the major Epidemiology trends.

The limited amount that I do know focuses on something I mentioned earlier in this conversation, which is lung cancer deaths decreasing as smoking has decreased but there could still be a greater reduction because many more Canadians continue to smoke than should. As long as that happens, lung cancer and some other cancers will continue to be a big problem.

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Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Distinguished University Professor, Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 1, 2017 at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2017 at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] B.Sc., University of Toronto; M.D., General Internist, McMaster University Medical School; M.Sc., Design, Management, and Evaluation, McMaster University.

[4] Credit: McMaster University.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five) [Online].August 2017; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2017, August 1). An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A, August. 2017. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2017. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 14.A (August 2017). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2017, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 14.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 14.A (2017):August. 2017. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC (Part Five) [Internet]. (2017, August; 14(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/an-interview-with-distinguished-university-professor-gordon-guyatt-oc-frsc-part-five.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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