Hanan Ghazal, studying psychology and linguistics, will work with Britannia Woods Community House in Ottawa to develop a support group for refugee mothers. “The most meaningful aspect of the project is the connection I get to make with the community. Also, I am excited to develop a project that has the potential to continue after the fellowship is done.”
Nicola Brogan will work with Indigo Girls Group in Hamilton to empower young girls through health and well-being.
Maggie Rodrigues, completing an Honours Bachelor of Commerce specialised in International Management, will work with Best Buddies and L ’Arche in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to create employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. “The OceanPath Fellowship appeals to me because it empowers and enables young, passionate leaders to create meaningful change where it matters most to them.”
Originally born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and currently residing in Ottawa, Ruth Nara understands the extent of the challenges of resettling into a new context. Ruth’s fellowship initiative supported the empowerment of adolescent refugee girls in the development of a sustainable program, for them and by them. There girls “are an abundant resource that is under-utilized and can help to facilitate the integration of their families into this cultural mosaic we call Canada.”
During his fellowship, Abdiasis Yalahow has worked on a Somali youth mentorship program: “Focusing on reproductive health in Somalia for the past couple of years, I am now looking forward to improving access to opportunities for my (local) community through capitalizing on our assets. Along the way, I hope to gain valuable leadership skills”
Aissa Boodhoo-Leegsma implemented a project focusing on women’s empowerment through shea butter production in Bolgatanga, Ghana: “This experience has helped me grow as a person and has given me the confidence and skills to further my career in meaningful work.”
Faduma Gure’s project is centered on creating a network of Somali health professionals and health leaders throughout the global Somali diaspora, in the hopes of supporting Somali women's health initiatives in the diaspora and ultimately, in Somalia. The project will include work in multiple countries with the goal of facilitating connections between the Somali diaspora and educational institutions, clinics and hospitals, community-based organizations, and individuals in Somalia. This project was informed by Faduma’s fieldwork, which took place last summer in Somalia, as well as her MSc thesis in interdisciplinary health sciences.
In early 2014, while Grace Sheehy was conducting research for her master’s thesis on reproductive health in Yangon, Myanmar, she was surprised by a finding that came up again and again: although reproductive health services and products were available in the city, women had difficulty accessing and using these services due to rampant misinformation, myths and rumours about sexual and reproductive health. Together with her collaborator at the National YWCA of Myanmar, Grace Sheehy decided to address this misinformation by developing a series of health education resources that provide comprehensive reproductive health information that is tailored to the needs and experiences of adolescents and unmarried women in Yangon. She is planning to develop a low-literacy comic book, a mobile app or website, and a peer education training program, all covering a range of reproductive health topics and issues, to improve access to reproductive health information for adolescents and unmarried women in Yangon.
Jessica Jaja has a vision in mind: the Youth Environmental Film Initiative (YEFI). This project aims to provide holistic environmental arts education programs for youth aged 14 to 21 living in Paget Farm, a fishing community in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Her initiative will offer training and educational opportunities while providing participants with positive ways to express themselves. The YEFI is firmly rooted in the philosophy of combining scientific and artistic spheres to provide a balanced educational program for its participants. In an ever-changing information age that is so highly interwoven and interdisciplinary, Jessica believes that this type of program is necessary, not only for professional and academic pursuits, but also for the development and awareness of self in relation to the environment.
Iman Amin recently completed a Juris Doctor degree. She received funding from the PFF Community Leadership (now known as OceanPath) program to go to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, for a year to strengthen the only domestic violence shelter in the entire Kivilliq region, run by the Kataujaq Society. While in Rankin Inlet, she worked on establishing intake systems, refining policies and procedures, and facilitating training initiatives. The project made an undeniable contribution to the community and to the region for two reasons. First, it was designed in direct partnership with the Kataujaq board and staff, and its objectives included empowering the organization with valuable tools, knowledge and skills-sets. Second, it promoted positive change by working to overcome the systemic violence faced by historically disadvantaged Inuit women.
Grady Arnott completed a master of science in interdisciplinary health sciences. She spent a year in Mae Sot, Thailand, having arrived in July 2014. With funding from the PFF Community Leadership Program (now known as OceanPath), she implemented a project to expand a safe abortion referral project to the Chiang Mai region, to reduce unsafe abortions and maternal mortality and build capacity among community-based organizations. The project had a direct impact on the lives of Burmese women in Chiang Mai by helping them obtain safe, legal abortions. The high rate of unsafe abortions among Burmese women along the border is a leading cause of maternal mortality in that region.