PORTRAITS OF GIVING: Richmond Hill duo helps improve human conditions | The Star

2022-08-14 19:44:54 By : Mr. Michael Ma

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Harry Harakh and his wife, Pamela, have a long history of philanthropy in York Region and abroad. The Toronto-based chartered professional accountant is president and one of the founders of Caribbean North Charities Foundation (CNCF) while his wife Pamela acts as vice president.

Caribbean North Charities Foundation, originally called Guyana Burn and Healthcare Charitable Foundation, was established in 1998 in response to the lack of adequate medical care for burn victims in Guyana and the Caribbean. Since then, the foundation has raised money and equipment in Canada to create the Guyana Burn Care Unit there, the first of its kind in the Caribbean where patients can receive proper medical attention and skin reconstruction.

The organization also helps with other health-care needs. They have developed a program to educate Guyanese nurses on neonatal care for at-risk newborns in accordance with the Canadian Paediatric Society’s standards. CNCF sends medical equipment such as beds, mattresses, IV (intravenous) pumps and ECG (electrocardiogram) machines to hospitals in Guyana. All equipment is generously donated by their major partner, the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. 

The couple began this impactful journey with volunteer doctors and nurses who were burn specialists at Sunnybrook’s Ross Tilley Burn Centre. They transitioned an assembly of rooms into a specialized burn care unit, modelling policies, procedures and treatment protocols specific to the Caribbean.

Surgical equipment and critical care components were introduced, all of which were either donated in Ontario, as well as room equipment, early supplies and ongoing nursing burn care education. According to a public report, this unit has saved many lives: 40 per cent more of patients with serious burn have survived, the average length of hospital stay was reduced and these people were able to return home. Incredibly, the initial expenditure of donated funds was about US$275,000.

Pamela and Harry do not characterize their numerous outreach programs as giving back, but as improving human conditions. Other tremendous examples of this include assisting orphanages; helping seniors manage through the pandemic; partnering with the Richmond Hill Soccer Club to introduce the game to more youths through an after-school program. Pamela also mentored a diverse group of female co-op students to help them gain valuable experience about non-profits, accounting, management reporting, project proposals, self-improvement and much more.

Every success along the way is considered momentous to Pamela and Harry. Their reward is seeing positive changes implemented. They greatly respect and appreciate the partnerships they have with their Guyana Burn Care Unit, emergency medical services and paramedics (who donate ambulances), York Regional Police, York Region District School Board and Richmond Hill Soccer Club.

Feeling blessed by all their children, grandchildren, friends — and their accomplishments — the Harakhs continue to embrace life, accepting that much has changed and hoping for world peace some day.

For more information, visit merkphotography.com/portraits-of-giving.

Portraits of Giving honourees’ portraits by Karen Merk, LPPOC, PMP, merkphotography.com.

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