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Dr. Claire Weeks and Dr. Peter Wing are long-time UNHCR monthly donors.

Dr. Claire Weeks and Dr. Peter Wing are long-time UNHCR monthly donors.

Giving back is a way of life for Vancouver physicians

It’s quickly evident that Dr. Claire Weeks and her husband, Dr. Peter Wing, have a strong sense of social responsibility. As long-time monthly donors to UNHCR, they’re grateful for their lives in Canada, honouring that by supporting regional, national and international humanitarian and other charitable organizations.

Both retired physicians living in Vancouver, Dr. Weeks is a spinal cord rehabilitation specialist and Dr. Wing is an orthopedic spine surgeon. They made the decision years ago to become regular monthly donors to UNHCR. “My heart really goes out to refugees,” Claire says. “I think they have an extremely hard time amongst all of the populations in difficulty.” That decision was further solidified when a couple of years ago a good friend of Claire’s began working in a refugee camp in Jordan, home to thousands of displaced Syrians. “My friend works in education and her first-hand reports corroborated my general feeling that Syrians are losing a generation—maybe even more than a generation,” Claire explains, talking about the hundreds of thousands of Syrian children whose futures have been dramatically shifted by not being able to attend school.

Like many UNHCR donors, Claire is informed about the devastation refugees face. “You look at people who were very highly skilled in their own countries and were forced to live in dire conditions, not practising or sharing their skills. I think it’s a very sad situation and UNHCR is doing a terrific job under the circumstances,” she says.

When the couple retired about eight years ago, they looked into volunteering overseas, ultimately deciding to visit and volunteer in Nepal, where their expertise in spinal cord injuries and rehabilitation has turned into a mission to train Nepalese doctors. Along with the University of British Columbia, they have established the not-for-profit Nepalese Spinal Cord Injury Collaboration (SpiNepal). Since the Nepalese earthquake they have been doing “Skype rounds” with physicians in Kathmandu, using the Internet phone service to advise on the care and treatment of the hundreds of people who suffered spinal injuries during the earthquake.

Claire prefers giving monthly donations to UNHCR, saying that it’s a more convenient method for the couple, and also recognizing that monthly donations represent a more stable and sustainable funding base and lower administrative costs for the agency. The couple has also decided to name UNHCR in their will. “It just feels like the right decision for us,” she says.

Thanks to all UNHCR donors who give so generously to help displaced people around the world. We’d love to hear why you support UNHCR—please contact donorcare@unhcr.ca.