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Friday, 20 November 2009

Guerrilla Aid: an Interview with Barton Brooks - Page 3

Written by Rachael Repoff
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Barton Brooks, leading by example, is making up his own rules for saving the world.

While reading O Magazine, I came across an article about a man named Barton Brooks. Barton was a real estate broker in New York and also worked for some time in the fashion industry. Feeling unfulfilled in his current situation, he left his job and changed his life’s focus.

 

 

 

inTravel:  In March of 2009, you were riding a motorcycle on the Uganda/Congo border, when you were hit by a truck and left for dead on the side of the road.  I can’t even begin to imagine what that must’ve been like for you.  Would you mind telling us about the accident?

Barton:  First of all, I’ll say it was by far was the toughest experience of my life.  It began at the end of a day I’d spent building a mud hut for an old man named Kilembe.  I got on my bike and was heading home.  About half an hour later, I came around a blind corner only to be faced with a speeding Land Rover on my side of the road. We both swerved to miss each other, but ended up swerving in the same direction and I got broadsided - with my left side smashed between my bike and the truck.

inTravel:  That sounds horrific…What’s the next thing you remember?

Barton: I woke up in the dirt feeling blood dripping down my neck.  I looked down at my leg and my femur was broken in half and laying strangely perpendicular to my body.  My arm was also twisted in a way it shouldn't have been and I noticed there was blood everywhere, but I think it was the pain that kept making me pass out...  

inTravel:  At this point, do you remember what you were thinking?

Barton: My only concern and prayer at this point was "please let me survive so my mother doesn't have to fly to Africa to pick up my body - she couldn't handle that"...

inTravel:  It’s very telling that you were in that dire situation and your greatest concern was about someone else…What happened next?

Barton: After a while, a small taxi drove
by and the people he was transporting agreed to get out so he could
take me to a clinic.  They then proceeded to cram in all my broken parts into the back seat.  Eventually, they jammed me in; I could feel the bones grinding against each other the whole time.  I've never even imagined pain like that, so yeah, I was screaming as well...  I believed that there was no way I'd survive the ride, but after about two hours of the most painful experience ever, we arrived at a medical clinic in Kisoro.

inTravel: When you arrived at Kisoro, I understand there was quite an extensive list of things that needed attention.

Barton:  I had a cracked skull, both bones in my left arm were broken, my right shoulder Guerrilla Aid: an Interview with Barton Brooks, Guerrilla Aid,  Barton Brooks, Global Colors, Guerrilla Aid Movement, volunteering Southeast Asia, Uganda, Kenya, Mexico, Ethiopia, Argentina, Senegal, and Mozambique, building homes, giving bikes and school supplies to kids, helping orphanages, Barton Brooks accident, Rachael Repoffwas broken and dislocated, my left femur was broken in half and poked through the back of my thigh (that was the most painful), and one of my shin muscles was sliced in half.  I also had both my ACL and MCL were torn off and several huge gashes around both of my eyes.

inTravel:  It’s no wonder you were screaming

Barton:  Yeah, I really didn’t think things could get much worse until I was told that the "technician" was too drunk to take any x-rays of me.

inTravel:  Wow that must've been disheartening to say the least.

Barton:  Yes, but life got much better as soon as a Dr. Robert Schreve walked in; he was a Dutch doctor who was in the area on a short medical mission. His wife held my hand as he started to work, yanking on my ankle to straighten my femur, pulling my arm straight, and sewing up my leg - all of which really sucked with no pain killers.  

Guerrilla Aid: an Interview with Barton Brooks, Guerrilla Aid,  Barton Brooks, Global Colors, Guerrilla Aid Movement, volunteering Southeast Asia, Uganda, Kenya, Mexico, Ethiopia, Argentina, Senegal, and Mozambique, building homes, giving bikes and school supplies to kids, helping orphanages, Barton Brooks accident, Rachael RepoffHe got everything together and said he wouldn't attempt any sort of invasive surgery due to the chance of infection, so I'd have to get to Kampala to sort things out.  I stayed in Kisoro for three days to stabilize and was incredibly blessed to have Dr. Schreve, his wife, and my angel of mercy, Marie McGee taking care of me until we could arrange the plane, and then they loaded me in the back of a truck and drove me to an airfield to get to Kampala...

My first night in Kampala they did some work on my leg and unfortunately used a drug called Ketamine (an animal tranquilizer) to put me out.  I've never done a drug in my life so to be put me on something like this resulted in giving me the most horrific hallucinations ever. Imagine hallucinating in the Matrix - but awake - while someone is doing surgery on you... Not cool...  

It got much better after that, and eventually I was being prepped for transport back to the states to do the major surgeries.  I was in Kampala wondering how to get home, when my mother and brother were given the green light by the embassy to come over and help get me back to NYC.  Many tears were shed the day I saw my mother’s face as she stepped into that dark room, and I was so glad my prayers of having her pick me up alive were answered.  It still humbles me and makes me cry to this day - my 70 year old mother flying 30 hours to bring me home.
Although my brother and I have always been close, this took it to an entirely new level.

inTravel:  When I first contacted you in November, you wrote me an email from Uganda, so obviously you’ve already been back there.

Barton:  I have been back; it’s amazing to see how far they've come with all the generous contributions we’ve received since we started the project there. These beautiful people have prayed for my recovery since the day of the crash - a fact that continues to bring me to my knees in gratitude for them. We had a beautiful celebration, a few tearful reunions, and visited all the projects successes.

 

For more information you can visit to www.globalcolors.org or www.guerrillaaid.com .

©Rachael Repoff

(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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