Canadian Women Making a Difference: Katie Ochin
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are sharing a series of interviews with incredible women who #PressForProgress and are making a difference in Canada and around the world. Check our blog throughout the month of March for new inspiring interviews.
Name: Katie Ochin
Occupation: Program Manager, Federal Government
How she’s making a difference: supporting newcomers to Canada, educating children and youth, and advocating for justice.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a fairly ordinary 30 year old! I live in Ottawa, ON with my husband. I’m the youngest of 5 girls and love spending time with my family including my 6 nieces and nephews. I have a growing faith in Jesus Christ and am blessed to attend a fantastic local church. I enjoy being involved in the community around me and meeting new people. Lastly, I try to spend as much time as I can cycling outdoors and camping.
2) What unique gifts do you bring to the world?
I don’t excel at anything in particular but what I do bring to the table is the determination to get things done. God has blessed me with the ability to problem solve, find creative solutions and then make things happen.
3) How are you making a difference right now?
Right now my life looks a bit different than it normally does. In December 2016 I got a head injury that turned into a pretty nasty concussion. Over the past 14 months I’ve faced an up-hill battle while waiting for my head to heal and return to normal. A brutal constant headache mixed with other symptoms forced me to pull out of a lot of the community activities that I was involved with. Thank God, my head is healing and I’m slowly getting back to my normal self!
I share this story because this year I participated in Dressember and it was the first time since my concussion that I felt I was really able to start contributing again to the world around me. Wearing a dress every day in December not only ended up acting as an amazing advocacy tool for IJM and the fight against slavery, it filled me with hope and joy.
During the past year, especially when I was in the thick of my injury and off work, I needed to be creative with how I would love other people and make a difference. This included baking for my colleagues frequently to show them love, spending time with family on good days and continuing to support ministries and organizations financially. Dressember was the highlight of my year and, I hope and pray, the beginning of a new chapter.
Prior to my concussion, I participated in a mix of programs and organizations that supported kids, youth and newcomers to Canada. From teaching kids about God to sharing cultural differences with a newcomer, I’ve learned that friendship and simply giving your time to someone can really make a difference in their lives. In the coming year, my husband and I are planning to get involved with the young adults ministry at our local church and I’m part of a team that facilitating the sponsorship of a Syrian family to Canada.
My contribution will be to help the new family with their employment and career development as I currently work in the area of employment services with the federal government. I may not be able to do what I was able to do prior to my concussion at this time, but I can do something! And something is better than nothing.
4) What motivates you to do what you do?
When it comes to working with youth, helping a newcomer, or raising money and awareness for a valuable cause, I do it because I am called to love others as a Christian and also because I see myself in the people I’m trying to support. For example, when spending time with a teen who is going through a tough situation, I know that I was either once in her situation or could have been in her situation. By maintaining this way of thinking, it helps me to not place myself above others.
We’re all on the same playing field to be honest. My family, education, health, job, or wealth are all a blessing from God and could disappear at any moment. God calls us to live in community and love others, so we do. It could be me that needs a little extra love next time around.
5) Why are you passionate about the work of IJM? How do you show your support?
I am crazy passionate about the work of IJM because IJM is helping innocent people who are trapped in horrible situations find freedom and experience the abundant life they were designed to live. Not only that, the work that IJM does is holistic. It’s not a Band-Aid solution to a complex problem - it’s a complex solution to a stream of challenging problems.
When I’ve been faced with a challenging situation in my life, part of my motivation to not give up is knowing that others around the world are in much worse circumstances than me and somehow they manage to keep going. As a female, it doesn’t get much worse than being forced into sexual slavery with no end in sight. I often think and pray for all people stuck in these horrific situations. When I heard about the work IJM was doing to help people caught in slavery and violence, I knew that I had to do something to support!
I first heard about IJM when my friend went on an internship overseas with them and then another friend was promoting IJM through her Dressember campaign on social media. Dressember is a campaign where women wear dresses and men wear bow ties/ties during the month of December to raise awareness and funds towards ending slavery around the world.
My friend was posting all throughout the month about her campaign and educating her Facebook friends about the amazing work IJM was doing. Her posts and advocacy captured me and I knew it was something I wanted to do. Seeing that December had already passed, my husband and I started supporting IJM regularly and I was eagerly awaiting next year to do Dressember! My concussion pushed my participation in the campaign back a year, but this year I borrowed a bunch of dresses, bought some tights (to keep warm!) and took the plunge! The focus of my Dressember campaign was not primarily to raise money, but I really wanted to get creative in how I told people about the amazing work IJM was doing.
This included posting pictures of me in my dresses daily with quotes, facts and general information about slavery around the world and IJM. I sent out e-mails to my close family and friends telling them about the campaign and asking for their support. I put a brief video together and posted that on Facebook that explained exactly what Dressember was and why I was so passionate about the work IJM was doing. I brought dress sugar cookies to work and had some pretty great conversations about IJM and slavery with colleagues. I also tried to recruit Dressember girls and guys for future years. Throughout the entire campaign I tried to focus on what was being done to make a difference and what people could do to make a difference instead of only bombarding people with the negative. I think it worked!
6) What would you like to see happen for women in the future?
I would like to see all women and girls around the world living in safety and respect. Women shouldn’t have to limit when they walk outside, what profession they do, how much education they receive or even if they get their driver’s license because evil people and broken systems dictate they should. Women should be free to live and be respected as the equal human beings God created them to be.
7) If you could have a coffee chat with any woman, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
My dad’s mother, whom I have never met. I have a feeling that we would have had a lot in common and I would just like to speak with her about life in general.
The second person would be Katie Davis Majors, a girl around my age who moved to Uganda when she was in her early 20’s and ended up adopting a crazy number of children and starting her own organization that helps to educate and empower people in Uganda. She has always impressed me and I could think of a million questions that I would like to ask her.
8) What’s your favourite inspiring quote?
I have many favourite inspiring quotes, but a fitting one for this topic would be the one below that I came across during my Dressember campaign this year:
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something, and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” - Helen Keller
9) What advice do you have for the women in our audience who want to make a difference in the world?
Don’t limit yourself to what others think you should or shouldn’t do. Doing something is better than doing nothing, we all have to start somewhere!