Conrad Koczorowski has a long history of community engagement, from rebuilding computers for families who couldn’t afford one, to volunteering hundreds of hours in the paediatric department of a Thunder Bay hospital.
As a PhD student, Conrad realized he wanted to apply his experience and research skills in a way that might make a concrete impact. His search led him to a research position based in Uganda with the African Medical & Research Foundation (AMREF), an organization that works to address critical health challenges by raising funds, providing project support, building capacity, raising awareness, and engaging the Canadian public in African health development.
Conrad applied, thinking it was a long shot, but before he knew it he was boarding a plane to Kampala. During his six-month International Youth Internship (IYIP) placement Conrad worked on a number of maternal health projects, confirming his belief that health is the most important place to start in development.
“Without health you can’t even think about other issues of development”, he says.
The high maternal death rate in Uganda is a result of poor access to information and healthcare, a Millennium Development Goal that in Conrad’s opinion “still has a long way to go.” Conrad noted a marked difference in healthcare access between Kampala and the rural areas he worked in the northern and eastern parts of the country – parts of Uganda where the remnants of civil war were evident. He was continually learning from his colleagues how these differences impacted the way AMREF carried out its work.
While in Uganda Conrad also learned firsthand about the door-to-door efforts of community health workers in rural communities, and witnessed the benefits of having someone in the community as a resource. Looking back on his own experience growing up in a small community outside of Thunder Bay, he saw parallels to tele-health initiatives in Ontario, but with a greater focus on building personal relationships.
Conrad is thrilled to have found a way to meaningfully apply his academic skills, and hopes to continue working on health initiatives in East Africa, with a long-term goal of bringing his skills back to Canada.
Learn more about AMREF here.
Learn about the other 2014 Global Changemakers here.
What does “making a difference” mean to you?
For OCIC, “making a difference” means working collaboratively for global social justice, human dignity and participation for all.
This $500 gift card was generously donated by Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade, not-for-profit retailer working to improve the livelihood of artisans in developing countries by bringing their handmade goods to the North American market.
About International Development Week 2014
International Development Week (IDW) is a celebration of the many achievements of Canadians in promoting international development both in Canada and globally. IDW 2014 marks the 24th year of the week led by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD).
This year, IDW will take place from February 2-8, 2014 and you are invited to be part of the celebration! Throughout the week you are encouraged to learn more about international development, become engaged, and share your experiences with friends, family, colleagues and your community. You can learn more about IDW 2014 here.
OCIC International Development Week Activities can be found here.
This initiative is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD)