Change Maker From Thunder Bay
THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay has a growing impact on our world. From the efforts of the Global Conscience Circle, the many outreach programs across the city that help around the world, and a Conrad Koczorowski, a local and international volunteer.
The Ontario Council for International Co-operation reports on the efforts of people in our province who are making a difference around the world.
The OCIC states, “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”, states Kocorowski.
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.