Sara Yirgalem Wolde studied clinical Optometry in her undergrad and has been working as an assistant lecturer at the Department of Optometry since she graduated in 2017. Sara has always been passionate about joining a health profession that enables clients to participate in their activities of daily living and that works collaboratively with clients to achieve goals. The Occupational Therapy Program offered by Queen’s University in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation appeared to be a great chance to fulfill this dream.
The collaboration with Queen’s and University of Gondar pioneering to provide training opportunities of studying Occupational Therapy to open the first Occupational Therapy program will open doors that will cover huge gaps in Ethiopia. Occupational Therapy is essential to improve the quality of life of people living with a disability or those who require rehabilitation. We are fortunate to now have access to a profession that will strengthen services for persons living with disabilities. Sara is grateful to be part of taking this magnificent step, which will help to brighten the country’s future. Sara hopes to bring what she learned during her study and identify feasible ways to provide Occupational Therapy clinical service at the University of Gondar. Sara is also looking forward to collaborating with Occupational Therapy Fellows and being part of teaching future Occupational Therapists.
Yohannes is completing his MSc in Occupational Therapy, a Mastercard Foundation Fellow and faculty member at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia . He received his BSc in Public Health at University of Gondar (UoG). After his graduation, he worked at UoG as an assistant lecturer for one and half years. After Yohannes heard about the Mastercard Foundations Scholars Program, he searched to understand the prevalence of disability, effect on community participation, and actions that are being taken in Ethiopia. Also, he searched about Occupational Therapy, and how it can help to change lives in Ethiopia. As a result, Yohannes had a chance to see the gap, and the potential change he could bring if he studied Occupational Therapy at Queen’s University. Then he decided to be a Fellow of the Mastercard Foundation to study OT, with the expectation of gaining a good knowledge and skill to identify and manage occupational problems among people with disability and help them to achieve independence and community participation. Yohannes believes the collaboration between University of Gondar and Queens University helps to enhance the knowledge transfer between Canada and Ethiopia.
After Yohannes finishes his MSc in Occupational Therapy, he is hoping to collaborate with other department staff to strengthen the newly opening OT department. Also, Yohannes is hoping to work with a variety of people with disabilities, to assist them in managing their occupational problems so they can participate fully in the community. In addition, he will strongly advocate the needs of people with disability to assure inclusiveness in the community.
Zelalem is completing his MSc in Occupational Therapy, a Mastercard Foundation Fellow and faculty member at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia. He completed his BSc in Physiotherapy at the University of Gondar in 2016 and worked as an assistant lecturer and clinician at the Department of Physiotherapy at University of Gondar, Ethiopia prior to his studies with the Mastercard Foundation. Occupational Therapy enables people to participate in the activities of everyday life. In Ethiopia, there is a critical shortage of rehabilitation professionals. There is currently no education or training in Occupational Therapy in the country. Due to this, many people with disabilities who require Occupational Therapy services do not have access to Occupational Therapy. The lack of Occupational Therapy professionals contributes to the social exclusion and the poor quality of life of people with disabilities in Ethiopia. Zelalem’s goal is to develop the profession of Occupational Therapy in Ethiopia by engaging in clinical services and teaching. The collaboration between University of Gondar and Queens University is unique and great collaboration. Through this collaboration, he has gained invaluable international experience and various capacity development opportunities in his field of study. He also gained networking opportunities with experts at Queens.
One of the main goals of Occupational Therapy is to achieve inclusion and social integration of people with disabilities using the skills and knowledge Zelalem has gained during his studies at Queens. As an Occupational Therapy, he aspires to work in advocacy for inclusion, assisting disabled students and supporting teachers in inclusive classrooms and removing barriers for quality education for people with disabilities in Ethiopia and Africa.
Rediet is completing her MSc in Occupational Therapy, a Mastercard Foundation Fellow and faculty member at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia. She completed her BSC in Psychiatry from University of Gondar and worked as an assistant lecturer at University of Gondar. Rediet was motivated to join the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program because one of its aims is to develop a new Occupational Therapy program in Ethiopia. Being among the first Occupational Therapists in Ethiopia is an incredible experience. Queen’s University provides evidence-based knowledge with excellent practical skills. The collaboration between the University of Gondar and Queens University gave Rediet a great opportunity of being part of a unique and exciting field that makes people’s day to day life meaningful.
Once Rediet completes her studies, she envisions developing the new Occupational Therapy program at University of Gondar and transferring the knowledge and skills she learned from Queen’s to her students. Rediet will be working to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.
Haben is completing his MSc in Occupational Therapy, is a Mastercard Foundation Fellow and faculty member at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia. He received his BSc in Psychiatry from University of Gondar. He worked for 18 months as an assistant lecturer and clinician at University of Gondar Hospital. Haben wanted to be part of the new OT program in Gondar. Being a pioneer in the upcoming OT department is an exciting opportunity and led him to join the MCF project. The collaboration between the University of Gondar and Queens University has provided a good opportunity for instructors at University of Gondar to get advanced education in a prestigious university like Queen’s.
As an occupational therapist, Haben’s job will involve helping people with disabilities to engage in their activities. Part of daily activities include attending educational institutions which demands an inclusive and accessible approach.