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Fostering sustainable social change

Queen’s graduates working in Tanzania and Kenya recommend the OceanPath Fellowship to community-minded graduating students.

Two Queen’s University graduates, who each received $25,000 in funding from the OceanPath Fellowship, are now busy pursuing community-focused experiential projects in East Africa.

New Queen’s alumni Hanna Chidwick (left) and Nabeela Jivraj (right) have both received the OceanPath Fellowship. (Supplied Photo)
New Queen’s alumni Hanna Chidwick (left) and Nabeela Jivraj (right) have both received the OceanPath Fellowship. (Supplied Photo)

Hanna Chidwick (Artsci’17) and Nabeela Jivraj (Artsci’17), are two of this year's OceanPath Fellows, and are currently in Tanzania and Kenya, respectively. 

The year-long OceanPath Fellowship, coordinated by the Coady Institute, offers community-focused experiential learning opportunities to up to 12 graduating students every year from Queen’s, as well as three other universities. New graduates have the chance to bring new ideas to, and work closely with, communities to foster sustainable and positive social change – both within Canada, and around the world.

Ms. Chidwick’s project in Moshi, Tanzania – located at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro – is a partnership with the Pamoja Tunaweza Women’s Centre, a local health clinic, to build health support for elderly people.

“Because elderly people in Moshi are living longer, there are more chronic diseases such as diabetes that many have to deal with,” says Ms. Chidwick.

A view of Mount Kilimanjaro from the main road in Moshi, Tanzania. (Photo credit: Hanna Chidwick)
A view of Mount Kilimanjaro from the main road in Moshi, Tanzania. (Photo by Hanna Chidwick)

Ms. Chidwick arrived in September and is working on building peer-to-peer social supports to help seniors who may feel isolated due to taking care of family, physical immobility or lack of finances to access healthcare or social support.

“So far, the clinic staff and I have consulted with many of the elderly people in the Rau neighbourhood, along with the local chairman," she says. "It’s been interesting to see the changes in the project because of our direct engagement with the elderly so far. Building partnerships and fostering relationships with people to create a foundation for community support is key to sustainability and success. The support offered through the fellowship has been invaluable. I look forward to building on the strengths of the Moshi community by connecting directly with people and working towards a real impact.”

Staff of the Pamoja Tunaweza Women’s Centre. Left to right, back: Lillian (nurse/pharmacist), Jackson (doctor), Dorothea (staff), Leonce (nurse) and Ms. Chidwick. Left to right, front: Msechu (driver), Hilda (nurse) and Azylina (staff). (Photo credit: Hanna Chidwick)
Staff of the Pamoja Tunaweza Women’s Centre. Left to right, back: Lillian (nurse/pharmacist), Jackson (doctor), Dorothea (staff), Leonce (nurse) and Ms. Chidwick. Left to right, front: Msechu (driver), Hilda (nurse) and Azylina (staff). (Photo by Hanna Chidwick)

Meanwhile in Mikei, Kenya, Ms. Jivraj’s project is centred on the provision of access to water, sanitation and hygiene, working in partnership with Rieko Kenya, a locally-based organization run by members of the community.

The Mikei community has just begun the process of mobilizing resources to drill a deep well to serve the whole area. Since she arrived in Kenya in late September, Ms. Jivraj has been working on improving educational programs for the community until funding for more safe water sources is secured.

“The education piece will be important to drive behavioural change once additional infrastructure is available,” says Ms. Jivraj.  

The unique political situation in Kenya has put many projects on pause during the election re-run period, including action on her project. Nonetheless, Ms. Jivraj says that having the chance to connect with and learn from community members, people doing similar projects, and witnessing the practicalities of projects operating during the election period has been a valuable learning experience. 

Ms. Jivraj poses with members and volunteers of Rieko Kenya. From left to right, back: Claire, Duncan (Rieko Kenya Program Officer), Jacquelin Kabaka, Edward Kabaka (Founder and Executive Director, Rieko Kenya), Edward’s children Ashley, Desma and Mavis, Fred Kabaka (Community Volunteer), Maddie. Front left to right: Nabeela Jivraj, Cosmas (Rieko Kenya), Isaiah. (Photo credit: Nabeela Jivraj)
Ms. Jivraj poses with members and volunteers of Rieko Kenya. From left to right, back: Claire, Duncan (Rieko Kenya Program Officer), Jacquelin Kabaka, Edward Kabaka (Founder and Executive Director, Rieko Kenya), Edward’s children Ashley, Desma and Mavis, Fred Kabaka (Community Volunteer), Maddie. Front left to right: Nabeela Jivraj, Cosmas (Rieko Kenya), Isaiah. (Photo courtesy Nabeela Jivraj)

The next deadline for 2018-19 applications to the Fellowship is Nov. 16. Both Ms. Chidwick and Ms. Jivraj highly recommend the experience and are grateful for support from their professors in the Queen’s Department of Global Development Studies, particularly Paritosh Kumar.

“This experience has reinforced the importance of experiential learning,” says Ms. Chidwick. “I would encourage students with a passion for learning and working in partnership with a community to reach out to their professors and apply.”

“As a Life Sciences student, having the opportunity to work in a practical setting during my degree was both unique and formative. I’ve also learned a lot about myself during the process,” says Ms. Jivraj. “I’d definitely recommend the fellowship to students from any discipline who have a passion for working with people, and are up for a challenge!”

Students interested in applying for the fellowship can contact Queen’s Oceanpath Advisor, Katie Fizzell in Queen’s Career Services.