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'If the need is there, I want to be there too': Tse
A Coquitlam engineer is back in Canada after spending three weeks on a disaster relief mission in the Philippines, which was hit with a powerful tropical cyclone last November.
Wesley Tse, a graduate of Dr. Charles Best secondary, returned to his job as a project engineer with Ledcor Construction in Fort McMurray, AB, last Saturday.
In Tacloban — the most devastated part of the country, where some 6,000 people lost their lives to Typhoon Haiyan — Tse represented Engineering Ministries International (EMI) to provide clean water.
Tse said he was overwhelmed by the damage but also awestruck with the mental strength of the survivors. And he said, if he had the time, he would go back in a heartbeat to continue with the efforts.
"The Philippine people are the warmest and most generous in the world," he said. "They have a willingness and a desire to rebuild. Not all cultures are like that. Some tend to wait for outside help."
Tse is no stranger to overseas relief missions. In 2006, as a university co-op student, he volunteered with EMI to help design an orphanage in Haiti. Two years later, he was with another non-profit group (based in Comox that partners with the Canadian International Development Agency) to provide clean water in Uganda for six months.
In 2012, Tse joined EMI in Sierra Leone following the country's worst outbreak of cholera in 15 years. The spread of the water-borne disease came after heavy rainfall and flooding. There, Tse was tasked to chlorinate the wells.
This month, in the Philippines, Tse and another EMI volunteer stayed in a city hotel with other NGOs and worked with a Samaritan's Purse International Relief organization WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) team to maintain temporary water treatment systems and to select new clean water point locations.
For Tse, geography doesn't matter.
"If the need is there, I want to be there too," he said. "I love to give back. It would be a waste if I didn't do it, I figure."