Bartow Rotarian serves int’l community
by Matt Shinall
Apr 24, 2013 | 781 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Each week, Rotarians recite the Rotary Four-Way Test, which asks members to reflect on every thought word and action. For Rotarian Tricia Spivey, the Four-Way Test has a new meaning after returning from an international medical mission to Bangladesh.

Upon her return, Spivey presented to her home club Tuesday, the Rotary Club of Etowah, and was surprised with the bestowment of a Paul Harris Fellow, an award named after the Rotary International founder.

Spivey is a registered nurse with experience in various areas of the field from pediatric intensive care to hospice. In March, she joined a team of 13 medical professionals and five support staff for a two-week mission through the Rotary World Community Project and Alliance for Smiles to perform cleft-palate and cleft-lip repair procedures on children 10 weeks old to 16 years.

Tuesday, before receiving her award, Spivey presented an overview of the team’s mission, the people they helped and the conditions they worked in along with a slideshow of images. Images showed children with facial deformities that domestically would have been corrected at infancy. The same images, however, transformed to smiles as the immediate results of surgery were revealed.

While working to improve and save lives from the debilitating affliction, the team battled political unrest in the streets and insanitary conditions within the hospital.

Violent rioting rocked the capital city of Dhaka during Spivey’s mission with protests and car bombings taking place daily. Yet the team’s working conditions were not much safer. Working with almost no budget, the Shishu Hospital served more than 600 patients a day with an 80-1 nurse-to-patient ratio. The hospital’s courtyard, in which children played, was littered with trash and sheep; and supplies, including needles, syringes, gloves and even gauze were washed and reused.

The experience is one Spivey will never forget.

“I was standing outside the ward with one of the plastic surgeons after we had made rounds one day. We were looking down at the courtyard with all the trash in it, and he said to me, ‘Tricia, do you think there is there a chance for humanity?’” Spivey said, relaying the doctor’s question to those in attendance. “That’s a big question. Of course the Pollyanna I am said, ‘Of course there’s a chance. There’s always a chance. Whether or not humanity takes that chance is the bigger question.’

“And I got to thinking about it and, every Tuesday, we look at two of the biggest keys to change: one being, peace through service, our motto this year, and the second being, the third part of the Four-Way Test, ‘Will it build goodwill and better friendships?’ I think this mission was a shining example of how two vastly different peoples can come together — different socially, religiously, culturally, economically — and not only did we fix smiles and change some kids’ lives, but because of peace through service, we built goodwill and better friendships.”

Spivey concluded her presentation with a challenge for her fellow Rotarians.

“The good news is, you don’t have to go to the other side of the world to make a difference,” she said. “Much like my conversation with the plastic surgeon, I truly believe that every day, every one of us has the chance to make a difference in someone’s life. So today, I want to challenge you to go out there, make a change and change someone else’s life.”

Rotary Club of Etowah President Laura Allgood was left without words after Spivey’s emotional presentation and charge for serving others. She further acknowledged the receipt of the Paul Harris Fellow as well deserved for the role of servant leadership Spivey has taken within the club and Rotary International.

“I’m speechless,” Allgood said. “I think we should look each day to inspire and help others and to live by the motto, service above self.

“She is absolutely a living example. This club has been in existence for a little over 10 years and this is the first time that we’ve had anyone go on an international mission trip like this. We’ve done several service projects within our community, but this is certainly an example of giving back to others above self.”