By Charlie Hodge
It all seems so sadly surreal.
As I sit spellbound in front of my television a part of me feels like a vulture sitting on a tree awaiting horrible outcomes. Observing the tragedies unfold from Hurricane Irma and her carnage cohorts flashes me back to watching U.S. directed scud missiles blowing up the middle east more than a decade ago.
It is hard to fathom what is being witnessed is actually taking place and not the exaggerations of some overzealous masochistic movie maker.
Like many I am gobsmacked at the relentless and ferocious power of nature and am thankful that neither I nor any family members are caught up in the actual events. It is a tragic reminder of just how precious life is and how quickly it can be swept away from us no matter our wealth, social status, age or health.
A sordid sidekick to the calamities in such close areas as Cuba, Florida, St. Martins and other locations is that North American media outlets tend to lose sight or thought of other areas in the world where mayhem and massive death and destruction continue. Seemingly forgotten in the glare of Irma are the natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods ravaging Mexico, India, Indonesia and elsewhere.
Few Canadians can truly comprehend the desperation and helplessness of facing such overwhelming natural disasters, nor the fact that help or assistance may be days, weeks or even months away.
Certainly locals who have been directly devastated within the past few months by either floods or forest fires have a comprehension of the chaos and heartbreak that those in Cuba or Florida are facing today. However, even Okanagan or B.C. victims had the advantage of at least having immediate or relatively quick assistance, first-aid, shelter, and food after the fact. The regional emergency response infrastructure was and remains in place to assist.
Such is not the case in many parts of the weather torn disaster areas around the world this week.
In addition to understandably forgetting or being unaware of the current natural disasters in Mexico and elsewhere such catastrophic disasters make it easier to tune out or forget about a number of nations that are simply struggling on a day to day basis to survive.
Which is why the endless volunteer work Louise Elliott, husband Geoffrey White, and their many friends do to make the world a better place is so valuable. Elliott, White and crew have spent several years fund raising and assisting the country of Haiti to overcome many challenges through an education focused program call Haiti in My Heart.
A Canadian registered charity, Haiti in My Heart was founded in 2014, with the goal of educating and developing the next generation of leaders. The mission of volunteers who drive Haiti in My Heart (HIMH) is, “to relieve poverty and provide opportunities for education in Haiti,” according to Elliott.
Conditions in Haiti are not conducive to long life, something that Elliott and others believe can be altered by increasing the knowledge of the youth. With 54 per cent of the population under the age of 25, HIMH believes education is key to eradicating poverty and empowering the next generation to effect long-lasting and sustainable change.
To that end, Haiti in My Heart built and supports a school in Montrouis, a fishing village on the east coast of Haiti. HIMH also supports numerous families and the broader community of Montrouis on a regular basis.
Thankfully Elliott reports that the school, Montrouis, and the rest of Haiti were barely impacted by the recent hurricanes in the area with only some minor winds and floods taking place. However the ongoing needs and demands of the impoverished nation continue and thankfully so does HIMH.
Which is where Kelowna residents can lend a hand.
On Friday, Oct. 20 you are invited to the Laurel Packinghouse to chow down some bratwurst and chase it with some fine foamy froth at an official Oktoberfest.
Sponsored by Total Restoration, HIMH is hosting the authentic German event which will include a food spread of schnitzel, bratwurst, potato salad, and red cabbage, finished with Black Forest Cake. Food is being graciously catered by Kelowna European Caterers while the Bavarian beer will be provided by Sleeman’s Brewery.
Dressing up in your best drindl or lederhosen may help you enjoy the music and entertainment of oom pa pa band Harmony Duet and the Blue Collar Band.
A live auction will also take place with all proceeds going to Haiti in My Heart.
Tickets may be purchased at Roy’s Footwear, The Laurel Packing House, Kelowna Nu-Floors, and Geoffrey W White Law Corporation. For more information and ticket locations: www.haitiinmyheart/ca-oktoberfest-2017 or call 250-317-2679.
Doors open at 5 p.m.