This week’s Student of the Week was nominated for her role as the founder of It Is Well, a charitable initiative raising money for the construction of a well in Utoo, Kenya.
Kinsey Brockie was working at an orphanage in Kenya after her first year at McGill when she started thinking about ways she could continue to help the community after she had returned to Canada. With so many possible ways to provide support, she settled on a project that will protect what she thinks is a fundamental right—providing clean drinking water.
“There was a well at the orphanage where I worked, but it was polluted and you’d have to pull worms out of your drinking water before you could drink it,” she says. “I witnessed a lot of kids get very sick. So I thought—these people have water, but it’s not even safe, let alone people in further rural communities who don’t have any water. It’s […] something that everyone can understand and relate to.”
Having also volunteered at World Vision, Brockie was familiar with the kind of behind-the-scenes work that goes on at a charitable organization.
“It started really small—I talked to some of the people I met in Kenya, [and asked] how much it [was] going to cost, and figured out what we would need to do on this end,” she says. “They’re taking care of the drilling and everything, so it was just me rallying together some friends who were interested in the cause and passionate about it, and getting the word out on campus.”
To date, It Is Well has about 30 members and has raised $14,000, which they have sent over to Utoo in increments. According to Brockie, her previous involvement in Kenya means that she still has personal contact with the people who are building the well. For example, the director of the orphanage where Brockie volunteered is supervising its construction.
While it can be challenging to convince students to donate money, Brockie says the key is to emphasize that every little bit helps.
“I think that we’re all so privileged—relatively speaking—and everybody has spare change in their wallet,” she says. “If you donate 50 cents and take a brownie or a cupcake or a coffee, it makes a difference. People are looking for something to get involved with, or [are] looking for something that is bigger than themselves. This is just a really easy way for people to be able to feel like they’re part of something that is positive.”
With other demands on her time like schoolwork and her job as a floor fellow at Varcity515, Brockie says life can be hectic, but that she loves being busy.
“I just have all these things that I want to do and I care equally about all of them,” she says. “That’s what helps me get through school—by doing things that I’m passionate about and studying what I’m passionate about, and spending the time that I’m not studying doing things that I love. It’s hard to find a balance, but once you do it’s a great balance to have.”
McGill Tribune: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Kinsey Brokie: Prime rib.
MT: If you could change one thing about McGill what would it be?
KB: I would like to have more ‘pick-up’ sports on campus—anyone walking by could just join in and play for a couple minutes. Everyone just comes and goes when they want to!
MT: What’s your least favourite word?
KB: “Stuff.” I hate when people say “stuff” because […] obviously they mean more than just “stuff,” and then you don’t get the full picture.
MT: What was your dream job as a child?
KB: I wanted to be a waitress at Swiss Chalet. It’s my favourite restaurant!
MT: What’s your ideal ice cream sundae?
KB: Lots of cookie dough. Probably Moose Tracks ice cream, fresh fruit—Just every topping that they have!
MT: Who would you meet if you could go back in time?
KB: Indira Gandhi– India’s first and longest serving woman prime minister. Despite extreme political turmoil and threats to her life, her dedication to serving her people, and the well-being of her country never wavered.