It is people like Toronto resident Rahul Singh that epitomize the term “hero” in its truest sense.
As founder and director of GlobalMedic – a charity using volunteer professional emergency workers to provide disaster relief in the immediate aftermath of catastrophes – the unassuming gentleman was named in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2010.
Humble almost to a fault, the 20-year veteran paramedic downplays his own achievements, preferring to use the opportunity to put the spotlight firmly on the organization’s volunteers.
“Oh, it’s 100 percent a team effort. I couldn’t do any of it without the devotion of our volunteers,” Rahul says. “My role is more of a team leader – it’s who I’m working with that gets the results.”
While this may indicate Rahul spends his time behind a desk issuing instructions, this is far from the truth. He regularly travels around the globe to assist on the frontline of disaster-hit regions, such as Haiti and the devastating earthquake it suffered in January of this year. GlobalMedic were among the first on the scene, with their inflatable hospitals, water purifiers, and qualified volunteer medics providing much-needed assistance. Rahul was in the thick of it, “setting broken legs and things,” as he modestly states.
While their rapid response team provides vital relief in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, GlobalMedic’ commitment to a region does not end once a semblance of stability has returned. For example, a 40-foot shipping container bound for Port-au-Prince was launched on May 18th, consisting of medical gear such as wheelchairs, medicines, hospital beds, stretchers, and 500 water purifiers.
In addition, the charity “believes in empowering the people we serve in disaster situations. Our team members train members of local communities and organizations on the correct operation and maintenance of our deployment equipment, and leave it in the field for them to operate as long as needed.”
Rahul began the charity in 1998, after witnessing mudslides devastate a village while he was backpacking and living in Nepal. “I became disillusioned with the way aid money was spent,” he explains. “I wanted to guarantee that the money donated goes directly towards providing relief and equipment.” He named it the David McAntony Gibson Foundation after his close friend who had tragically passed away after a failed liver transplant only months earlier. With the term “GlobalMedic” forming the recognizable “brand” of the charity, Rahul says naming the foundation behind it after an admired friend means “you’ll never do anything wrong because you don’t want to bring disrepute to the agency name. You’ll always stay on the right side of right.”
Montreal-born Rahul attended paramedic school in both New York and Ontario. His pre-GlobalMedic experience includes working as a frontline medic right here in Toronto, on Queen Street. The Toronto resident credits the generosity of the people of Toronto for the continued success of the foundation.
“I love that Toronto is such a diverse city – whenever disaster strikes anywhere in the world, there is sure to be someone originally from that country living here, so folks from that community are ecstatic that even if they are here in Canada they can donate to us and it directly assists their loved ones in their home country.”
GlobalMedic is always on the lookout for assistance with fundraising, especially in the fields of social media and marketing. “We’re just a bunch of old guys with no idea about those things!” says Rahul. Anyone looking to volunteer, donate, or offer assistance with fundraising is invited to go to www.globalmedic.ca for more information.
To help with the relief effort in the Philippines please visit www.globalmedic.ca/