The summer before entering university Yi-Min Chun read a book that transformed the way she thought about humanitarian work. Yi-Min describes Dr. James Orbinski’s “An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the 21st Century” as a compelling and heartbreaking narrative that led to her involvement with the organization he co-founded with James Fraser.
Yi-Min’s interest in Dr. Orbinski’s work was motivated by her long-time passion for medicine and global health.
In 2008 she became involved with the University of Toronto chapter of Dignitas International, a medical humanitarian organization dedicated to improving access to treatment and quality of care for people with HIV/AIDS and related diseases. Since then Yi-Min has moved from being the sole volunteer with just $15 in the bank, to mobilizing peers and other students to take action on HIV/AIDS.
As President of her school’s chapter Yi-Min realized that engaging students on HIV/AIDS prevention wasn’t going to happen just by handing out pamphlets. Instead, she sought to stimulate the student body by designing a 750-condom interactive art installation for World AIDS Day 2012.
Yi-Min firmly believes that the key to engaging students and other humanitarian groups is to use innovative approaches – even if it means being a little provocative.
Although Yi-Min has worked with a number of health-focused organizations, she describes Dignitas as unique because of its commitment to supporting local communities, rather than just “parachuting” in aid. She also credits Dignitas for deepening her understanding and compassion for global health issues, and for strengthening her commitment towards what may seem like a distant, complex set of problems.
Yi-Min encourages people interested in global health not to get overwhelmed by the complex nature of the issues, but to approach them with an interdisciplinary lens. As a Masters of Science student in Biomedical Communications – a program that marries her love of art, science and global health – Yi-Min is doing just that, and plans to go on to medical school to gain the skills needed in the battle against HIV/AIDS.
To learn more about Dignitas, click 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)