STEPHENVILLE, NL –
Pieces of paper taped to the sides of eight packages destined for the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s last week bore a simple message – “A friend in need is a friend indeed”.
Alongside these words were images of the flags of two countries that are more than 9,000 kilometres apart in geography, yet they are united in their desire to help, and stress how important the contents would be to the province’s regional health authorities.
Inside were parts of a 14-package delivery of 4,200 surgical masks to College of the North Atlantic (CNA) from Jilin University – Lambton College in China, a partnership that’s existed since 1999. The donation stemmed from a conversation between representatives of the two post-secondary institutions about the situation involving the COVID-19 pandemic. China was the first country to experience the serious effects of the outbreak, and soon after a letter from Dr. Ke Tian, interim president of Jilin University – Lambton College, to Bruce Hollett, CNA’s President & CEO, outlined an expression of good will and the donation process was set in motion.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 has hurt societies all over the world,” stated Dr. Tian. “China is recuperating, and citizens have returned to work. Although the outbreak has been severe in many countries, we believe this pandemic will pass. At this particular time, it is even more important to look after and help one another. We would like to donate some masks as a token of our good will. A friend in need is a friend indeed. I hope our partnership and friendship will be as strong as ever as we endure this difficult time together.”
Trudy Barnes, CNA’s Vice President of Partnerships, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, has been working closely with the college’s partner in China over the years and she says this gesture is a strong representation of the great collaboration between the two organizations.
“This is the first time we received a donation like this, and we are certainly thankful for their generosity,” said Barnes. “We have had a great relationship with the university-college over the past 20 years, and we will make sure their donation is placed in the appropriate hands so that it can be put to use by health care workers needing personal protective equipment (PPE). Everything helps, and we are proud to be part of this initiative.”
When contacted for comment, Dr. Tian was very flattered and thought the donation was a natural step to take.
“We did what anyone else would do in our position,” he said. “(There was) a period of time, masks, gloves and other supplies were very difficult to obtain. The worst is behind us in this part of the world, but the hardship is still being experienced in other countries. Now that masks are relatively easier to access and purchase, we wanted to do our part in helping others. I think of us as not only as partners in education, but as partners who always support each other in times of need.”
Barnes echoes those sentiments, as CNA has also been actively lending its expertise, equipment and resources to assist the local efforts to address PPE demands and potential shortfalls.
“We are grateful to Dr. Tian and his colleagues for making these masks available to us so quickly,” she said. “We will do what we can to ensure they are put to good use. Such collaborations are wonderful when times are good, and they are even more meaningful when times are challenging, as they are now.”
College of the North Atlantic