Trip of a lifetime for journalist

Goldstream News Gazette reporter Katherine Engqvist travels to Haiti on Oct. 28

This week has been a bit of a blur. Last Thursday I walked into an interview with a couple of West Shore residents about to embark on a trip to Haiti and walked away with an invite to join them on a trip that is essentially the reason I became a journalist.

After that I didn’t sleep for three days. Thursday night I lay awake trying to figure out the best way to pitch this to the bosses – then practicing that pitch over and over again in my head. Friday morning I walked into the Gazette office and was overwhelmed by the support I received. Within hours I had the okay from all the powers that be to pack my bags – and camera gear – to join this group on their trip to Haiti at the end of the month.

Friday night I started making lists in my head of everything I needed, where it was, what I might have to pick up and I don’t know what else but there was also lists of lists. I really should start leaving a note pad on my bedside table because by the time I woke up I couldn’t remember any of them. Saturday night I was too tired to sleep, too excited. So I mentally started crossing off items from those lists that I can only seem to remember when I’m on the edge of consciousness.

This will be a quick trip, five days in length, to essentially assess and address the state of two orphanages and share some of the stories of those involved with them. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes in Haiti, so this trip will look at also addressing future needs.

This isn’t my first time taking part in a trip of this nature. Back in 2008 I spent time in Peru building a school and installing clean burning stoves in villagers’ homes. That was my first glimpse into what poverty looks like in a developing country. But while I was sitting on a dirt floor in a one-room home, literally mixing mud with fecal matter because it makes a stronger cement-like substance to build the stove with, I couldn’t help notice how happy this family was, even though we were trying to converse in a language I didn’t understand. By North American standards, this family had nothing, except for each other, some old tattered clothes and the few guinea pigs running around the home that will eventually become a meal. When I left they were so grateful the mother offered me a hand woven friendship bracelet she’d made while trying to converse.

Whether I am the one venturing off on this type of trip or covering it for an article, the same question is usually posed in some form by people wondering why a group or organization is supporting a foreign project instead of focusing those efforts and funds on Canadians.

But the two aren’t mutually exclusive. If you look at the group that’s going on this trip, I would argue that these people have devoted themselves to helping Vancouver Island residents, whether it’s through their businesses, their involvement with the Westshore Sunrise Rotary Club, their involvement in local governments or the many other projects and groups these individuals support. This group spends their days trying to make sure no one goes without at home and abroad, and I am honoured to be able to travel with them.

We are not only Capital Region residents,  we are part of a global community. And while I would say we take care of our own first, we also have a responsibility to everyone we share this planet with.

Many of us were born with the great fortune of being Canadian residents and often times we truly don’t know how lucky we are. Some of the people I will meet in the coming days had very little, if anything, to start with, they were devastated by an earthquake and once they finally started to regain some stability many lost the little they did have, yet again. We take a lot for granted living in Canada and it’s through projects like these we are able to share some of our wealth.

I became a journalist because I wanted to help people and I truly believe this is the best avenue for me to accomplish that.

Goldstream News Gazette reporter Katie Engqvist travels to Haiti on Oct. 28. Watch your Gazette in the coming weeks for stories and reactions from a country that was recently devastated by Hurricane Matthew.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

North Saanich woman arrested after police pursuit, alleged abduction at elementary school

Two police officers were injured and one police vehicle damaged

Victoria resident faces discrimination from BC Transit since transitioning to a wheelchair

Daniel Sands says they are often not allowed on buses, even when there is room

Single dad reaches out to Greater Victoria community to help kids celebrate Christmas

A young family was overwhelmed with the warm response from strangers

VIDEO: More air-passenger rights go into effect this weekend

The first set of passenger rights arrived in mid-July in Canada

Swoop airlines adds three destinations in 2020 – Victoria, Kamloops, San Diego

Low-fair subsidiary of WestJet Airlines brings new destinations in April 2020

Wagon wheels can now be any size! B.C. community scraps 52 obsolete bylaws

They include an old bylaw regulating public morals

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Transportation Safety Board finishes work at B.C. plane crash site, investigation continues

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Trudeau sets 2025 deadline to remove B.C. fish farms

Foes heartened by plan to transition aquaculture found in Fisheries minister mandate letter

Indigenous mother wins $20,000 racial discrimination case against Vancouver police

Vancouver Police Board ordered to pay $20,000 and create Indigenous-sensitivity training

Suspect steals 150 pairs of cosmetic contacts from Nanaimo party supply store

Incident happened at Pattie’s Party Palace on Rutherford Road on Thursday

Most Read