MEDA Blog - Stories from the Field

Curtis was born and raised in Kincardine, ON.  He graduated from Trent University in Peterborough, ON with a Geography Degree as well as completed a Graduate Certificate at Fleming College in Lindsay, ON for GIS: Application Specialist. He has over 5 years past experience working with Mapping/GIS, databases and programming. In the past, he volunteered with Mission trips to the Village of Hope in Kisumu, Kenya and most recently a few months ago in Harare, Zimbabwe as well as with a group 'Friends of Honduran Children' near Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Past working positions have been with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, City of Brampton and Kawartha Heritage Conservancy. Some of his interests include sports (soccer, hockey, tennis), listening to music and trying new foods. He is looking forward to experience and learn about a new culture and land while assisting MEDA with its TNVS program through distributing ITNs, tracking technology and building new relationships with Tanzanians.

Stefanie V. Santana was born in Peru and then moved to Montréal, where she currently lives. She graduated with a Bachelors in Business Administration from HEC Montreal in Finance and International Business. In addition, Stefanie has had the opportunity to live in 3 different continents and has visited more than 15 countries. She is quite excited and grateful for this new international experience which will be an interesting journey of hard work, accomplishments and fun.

Sarah is a graduate of Ottawa’s Carleton University in International Relations as well as Teaching English as a second language. Throughout her university studies, she travelled extensively, most recently completing a university exchange in Pamplona, Spain.  While abroad, she volunteered with OXFAM and also taught English. To date, her biggest accomplishment has been the personal growth she has received from the Rotary Exchange to Argentina she did at the age of 17. Her first hand experiences in Argentina with culture shock and poverty has molded and changed her direction on life.  This in turn aided her drive to volunteer even more upon return. She immediately became an active member of The Humanitarian Organization for Latin American Students (H.O.L.A.S), at Carleton, where fundraising was done to provide humanitarian support for countries in need. Sarah’s long term goal is to enable people to take responsibility for their own future development and she believes that MEDA’s values will help her substantially in meeting these goals. Her personal philosophy of helping is summed up by the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.”

Catherine is from Toronto and holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto as well as a post-graduate certificate in International Development and Project Management from Humber College. Catherine has spent the last year working with the Rural Education Institute of Mexico, a small non-profit that provides educational programs for children and youth living in rural Mexico. She has also spent time teaching English in Spain and has extensive experience working with children and youth. Microfinance has always been a great topic of interest for Catherine who focused her Master’s research on microfinance in Ghana. Catherine is extremely excited to be joining MEDA and for the opportunity to work with its partner MiCrédito in Nicaragua.

Sanae has had opportunity to travel to Morocco on numerous occasions to meet relatives and volunteer at local orphanages. This insight instinctively led her to compare the multiple breaches between both worlds and the drastic differences in the quality of life. She holds a BA in International Studies and Modern Languages as well as a BA in International Studies and Globalization. Her most recent work experiences range from Financial Advisor at JP Morgan Chase, Junior Project Manager at the University of Ottawa and Usher at the National Arts Centre. In addition, she has volunteered at student associations such as the Students Aiding Village Empowerment (S.A.V.E) and the African Awareness Initiative (AAI), both of which combine cultural elements with humanitarian efforts. As the web designer and active member of the events committee for the Humanitarian Organization of Latin American Students (H.O.L.A.S.), she aided in organization and event promotion which have raised over $6000 for each project. Sanae realized fundraising alone can only remedy some of the inequalities in disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. It is her belief that every population has the key to eliminate poverty; a business perspective enables that possibility.

Jeelan holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Toronto. In addition he has studied at Sciences Po and the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris. Over the past year and a half, Jeelan has taken part in two internships as a Political Analyst Intern in Kosovo and as a Project Assistant Intern in Kygystran. He has a keen interest in international affairs and speaks six languages including English, French, Russian, German, Arabic and Urdu. His interests include cross-country running, Nordic skiing, swimming, theatre and travelling.

After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of King's College/Dalhousie University and a Master's at the University of Guelph, Jessica decided to pursue a second Master’s degree in Human Rights and Genocide Studies through Kingston University London, which she has recently finished. Jessica's academic focus is on women's empowerment and gender issues, while her other interests include yoga, hiking, and time at the cottage. Throughout university she had the opportunity to study abroad in England, Italy, Germany and Poland. Jessica has experience working and volunteering in the fields of education and administration in Australia, Switzerland, Kenya and Cambodia as well as her hometown of Toronto. She has a passion for travel, learning about different cultures and helping others - Jessica is thrilled to join MEDA where these aspects are combined.

Gillian Perera recently completed a B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Western Ontario, and holds an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Toronto. She has facilitated the development of a community-based nutrition program for families with obese preschoolers and has also supported pre-diabetes patients in an education and lifestyle improvement intervention program. Her interests in community health and development took root during a trip to her hometown of Belize City where she donated her time to a local outreach centre as a caregiver to children affected or afflicted with HIV/AIDS. She also supervised a nutrition and physical activity workshop for school-aged children at Belize City Council’s Public Health Expo. Once back in Canada, Gillian continued her passion to serve the community and volunteered as a counselor for a confidential youth helpline, supporting youth during sensitive and difficult times. She is an enthusiastic supporter of cultural awareness and has organized campus events and projects as a multicultural club executive. She believes in having a genuine understanding of cultural and socioeconomic influences within a community and that equity is essential to the achievement of a healthy population. Gillian has a strong commitment to health and social justice and is excited to contribute to MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project.

Daniel has always enjoyed seeing new and different places, having been born in Bolivia, raised in Kansas, and having visited places like Morocco and Guatemala. After a year voluntary service in Paraguay in 2010, Daniel graduated in 2012 from Goshen College with a Bachelor's Degree in History and minors in Multimedia Communications and Business. During his time at Goshen he became interested in economic development and MEDA, writing his senior thesis on MEDA's original economic development work in Paraguay and creating a video for MEDA centering around food security. He spent the past year living in Seattle doing Mennonite Voluntary Service, working at the environmental news source Grist, analyzing site data, writing articles, and overseeing Grist's video production.

Shaunet was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario with two older brothers and a younger sister. As a first generation Canadian, Shaunet was exposed to travel and cultural exploration from a young age. This motivated her to pursue a Bachelor of International Business degree from Carleton University where she was able to participate in a yearlong international exchange to Amiens, France. Throughout her academic studies, Shaunet was involved with a local, community-based charity that assisted lower-income individuals with financial services. She then took part in an internship with the US Embassy in Ottawa, further developing her business and trade skills. These experiences left her eager to pursue further opportunities in the international development field. She is excited to bring her experience to MEDA and hopes to learn much more about business development.

Emma was born in Toronto, Ontario, however grew up in the suburb of Oakville. In 2013 she completed her degree from the University of Western Ontario, graduating with a major in business and a minor in psychology. Her senior year was spent studying abroad at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, where she gained valuable experience dealing with cross-cultural diversity. A passion for microfinance was sparked in May 2012, when she was granted the opportunity to spend a month living and working in Managua, Nicaragua. Following her MEDA internship, Emma hopes to continue her education with graduate studies, and ultimately become an entrepreneur. In the meantime, she is thrilled to work with MEDA and develop her knowledge and skill-set. Outside of her professional life, Emma is an avid horseback rider, runner, and enjoys reading and writing.

Devon Krainer is a program manager in evaluation with a focus on impact investment programs. Her professional experience includes microfinance and financial analysis, monitoring and evaluation, social innovation advocacy, and business development and proposal writing, spanning the private and non-profit sector. She holds an honours bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business, a post graduate diploma in Social Innovation from University of Waterloo, and a certificate in Program Evaluation from Laurier University. She is currently pursuing a CFA designation.

Steph is from Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Her childhood was filled with adventures of "spying" on customers who were next door at her family's hardware store. From early on she got to see, understand, and be involved in how her parents ran their "unique country store." This interest would lead to a college degree in business and an internship at Douglassville Ace Hardware. Steph also has a love of people and different cultures, which is a part of her interest in MEDA. Not only does she enjoy learning about and from other people, but she love the outdoors, early morning runs, coffee, water sports, and spending quality time with friends.

Ola is an enthusiastic new graduate of the Queen’s School of Business Bachelor of Commerce Program with a focus in International Business and Marketing. She chaired the Queen’s Conference on Philanthropy, participated in an international exchange to Paris, France and is fluent in French and Russian. Eager to apply her experience from internships in finance, agricultural policy research and business development, Ola joins MEDA in Melitopol, Ukraine (near her Dad’s hometown!) as a value chain development intern for the Ukraine Horticulture Development Project.

Monica is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts program from the Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID) at McGill University. She worked as a full-time teacher's assistant for the Department of Political Science at McGill while completing her studies. Monica also holds a Highest Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Economics from Carleton University, Ottawa. She hopes to bring her academic experience, Colombian heritage and fluency in Spanish to her new role as the value chain development intern with MEDA’s Techno-Links project in Peru.

Meghan Denega has just completed her Master’s Degree in International Development Studies from York University. Her  research focus was on microfinance in Uganda, comparing formal and informal micro financial institutions. In the summer of 2011, she spent four months in Uganda collecting the primary data required for her thesis and participating in an internship at Kabale University. Meghan completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta with a major in Political Science and a French Minor. During her undergrad she spent a year abroad at the Universidad de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico. Languages are a passion of hers: She speaks English, Spanish, French, Ukrainian and she is currently learning Russian. She looks forward to everything about her internship with MEDA at the UDHP project in Ukraine.

Marie was born in Singapore and lived there half her life before moving to the Vancouver area. She studied Global Resource Systems at UBC, focusing on natural resource economics and development. Her interests led her to explore how resources, human rights and development practices interact to shape livelihoods within communities. Marie has been able to study this by doing research in Indonesia (raw timber) and Tanzania (traditional vegetables). In Jerusalem and the West Bank with UNRWA, she wrote and revised internal assessment tools for a women's income-generation project in refugee camps. She is excited to continue in this vein with MEDA in Dar es Salaam!

Lauren grew up in Calgary, AB where she attended the University of Calgary. She moved to Baltimore for graduate school in 2008, concentrating in international development econometrics and program evaluation. She interned with development consultancy Humanitarian Outcomes in New York City in 2009 and graduated with her Master's in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University in 2010. For the last two years, Lauren has worked in Washington, DC as a project associate and special assistant to the president at Devex, providing research and business services to the development industry.

Katy was born in Toronto, Ontario and grew up with her parents and one older brother. She graduated from North Toronto Collegiate Institute in 2008 and in May of this year received a Bachelor of Arts from Dalhousie University with a double major in International Development Studies and Economics. She has had two previous experiences abroad; the first in San Francisco de Yuoja, Honduras with Canada World Youth, and more recently, four months in 2011 as an intern with Imali Matters, a financial literacy NGO, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her interests include travel, swimming and trying to learn how to play tennis.

Since recently graduating from the University of Ottawa with an Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree, Katherine has been working for a professional fundraising organization as an advocate for social rights and community development. She is excited to apply her past experience volunteering with microfinance projects in rural communities abroad and studying in the Netherlands to this new chapter in her life and career as a rural microfinance intern in Managua, Nicaragua.