KATHERINE ENGQVIST: Haiti preparation challenges seem trivial

Gazette reporter ready to join volunteer crew in hurricane-ravaged country

Goldstream News Gazette reporter Katie Engqvist heads for Haiti today (Oct. 28) to document the work of a group of West Shore volunteers. Watch upcoming issues of the Gazette for her in-depth stories and reactions from a country digging out from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew.

I’m not going to lie, there have been several choice four letter words uttered this week. There’s also been a lot of running around the house trying to find this and that as I remember one more thing I need but can’t find. A problem aggravated by the fact I keep wandering into a room and immediately forgetting what I’m looking for.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s been a panic, but it’s certainly been a more compressed timeline than what I’m used to before an international trip. I essentially had two weeks to get my ducks in a row and by the time you’re reading this in print, I’ll probably be on a plane heading south and the enormity of it will have finally settled in.

Once the initial shock wore off, I started piling everything I needed on my dining room table, much to the amusement of my kitten, who likes to reach up and pull things down from the table. I have been in a two-week long battle with this fur ball to steal back all of the hair elastics I have surrendered – his favourite toy of late. So far I have been able to rescue one and he managed to pull it out of my hair when I wasn’t looking, so we’re back to a draw.

There was also some colourful language when I went to try on some of the quick-dry clothing I keep for trips such as this one. I have apparently grown about an inch in the last year or so, as there is now a gap between the hem of the shirt and the waist of my pants. My pants have also unexplainably shrunk. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it anyways. But this was a problem a quick search through the closet and a quick trip to the store remedied.

Much to my husband’s amusement, I also had time to take Dukoral, an oral vaccine that protects against a number of illnesses including cholera. While it offers a great deal of protection, it is a disgusting, slightly fizzy, sickly sweet concoction that I usually try to drink as fast as possible while making a horrible face. You also can’t drink or eat anything for at least an hour afterwards, so the taste lingers.

But all of those “problems” start to seem pretty trivial when I think about the situation I’m heading into. Since the earthquake in 2010, the cholera outbreak in Haiti has become the worst epidemic in recent history, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2015 the death toll had risen to more than 9,000 and it was reported more than 700,000 Haitians had become ill with cholera. Flooding from Hurricane Matthew, which continues to spread the water-borne illness, has resulted in more than 200 new cases.

The World Health Organization announced earlier this month it would be sending one million cholera vaccine doses to Haiti, a country with a population over 10 million. Keep in mind individuals need to take two doses of the vaccine to be protected.

All I have to do to get the vaccine is walk into a local drug store, no prescription needed. But due to a limited world stockpile, those that need it will often go without.

That thought certainly makes Dukoral a little easier to stomach.

I don’t know if I would refer to myself as a seasoned traveller – I still hate flying – but Haiti will be the 22nd country I have stepped foot in. Each trip always holds new adventures, new stories to tell and every time I travel I am blown away by how connected our world really is. I look forward to sharing some of those stories with you when I’m back in Canada.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

 

Just Posted

9 Victoria-area restaurants make top 100 most scenic dining list

Open Table compiled the list by reviews from diners between June 1, 2018 and May 31 of this year

Mainly sunny skies ahead for Friday

Plus a look ahead at your weekend

Justin Trudeau’s carbon footprint revealed in ranking of world leaders

Travel company ranks 15 world leaders’ foreign flight CO2 emissions

Average rent for one-bedroom in Victoria nears $1,400: PadMapper

Victoria sixth in Canada for most expensive rent

VIDEO: 1,400 classic cars roll into Victoria for Deuce Days

The four-day festival highlights classic hot rods, with a special emphasis on cars built in 1932

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Most Read