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

West Shore RCMP receives five cougar reports in two days in Colwood

Colwood and Sangster Elementary Schools taking precautions

Union, Labour Council mark Day of Mourning at Camosun College

Public ceremony at Lansdowne Campus set for April 26

French for the Future event to host 300 students in Victoria

Victoria event welcomes students from Greater Victoria and Vancouver

VIDEO: Large dust devil swirls through town in B.C.’s interior

Residents look on as column climbs about 90 feet into the air

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

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

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

RCMP arrest B.C. man following threatening Vaisakhi Facebook post

Post made reference to pressure cooker bomb at massive Surrey parade

Second dump site of Dungeness crab discovered in northern B.C.

DFO confident new site related to larger April 2 dump

Northern B.C. high school student reaches 100,000 followers on YouTube

Voice actor, animator, Jericho Fortune has more than 30-million views on his channel GTAGAMER222

University mourns student who died in B.C. canoeing accident

Andrew Milner, 19, was in his second year with the University of Calgary’s basketball program

Most Read