Making the world a better place

Dr. Myron and Elaine Semkuley receive the Prime Minister’s award for volunteerism.

When we go on projects we see so much that needs to be done, and it’s so humbling to know that someone thinks the work we’re doing is making a difference.

Dr. Myron Semkuley, a retired family physician, and his wife Elaine, a retired pharmacist, know exactly where they were on March 18, 2015 –working at a school for the deaf in Nepal that their organization – Medical Mercy Canada (MMC) – helped build. March 18 is also the day when they were supposed to be on the other side of the world, receiving the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award for Lifelong Achievement.

“When we got the call that we had won, we had to decide if we would come back to receive the award, but we couldn’t leave our work,” recalls Elaine.

That work includes international medical and humanitarian missions to some of the most impoverished places in the world. As the founders and driving force behind MMC – a charitable organization the Semkuley’s founded to finance health care projects and carry out other humanitarian work – the Semkuleys spend half of each year travelling the world to help those in need and the other half of the year organizing and fundraising for those missions. And this is how they have spent the past 20 years. It was this unflinching dedication to others that earned Dr. Myron and Elaine Semkuley the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award for Lifelong Achievement.

With typical humility, Elaine comments, “We were so surprised to win because we know there are so many Canadians who are doing valuable volunteer work. It’s such an honor to be recognized for what we do.”

In addition to their current work in Nepal (see link, below), MMC also has projects in Burma, India and Western Ukraine, where they deliver medicine, medical care and other essential supplies to vulnerable people in the regions. The organization is always looking for volunteers to join in their overseas missions.

“When we go on projects we see so much that needs to be done, and it’s so humbling to know that someone thinks the work we’re doing is making a difference,” notes Dr. Semkuley.

This past year, MMC invested additional time and resources in supporting Social Action for Women, which operates an orphanage in Thailand and serves abused and abandoned women in the region. “It’s a fabulous initiative and is so desperately needed,” comments Elaine.

Although the Semkuleys couldn’t accept their award in person from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, their four adult children attended the ceremony in Toronto to accept the award on their behalf. It was an experience that they and their children are not likely to forget. But as honored as they are by the Prime Minister’s tribute, it pales in comparison to the other rewards of their work.

“The smiles and hugs are the best,” says Dr. Semkuley. “They make it all worthwhile.”

Click here for more information on MMC’s Nepal crisis fund.

Read more about the Semkuleys and their work with MMC.

 

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.