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Changing lives... At home and abroad

Working to improve the health and well-being of marginalized populations is a mission that third-year medical student Julie Hakim has taken on with remarkable drive not just at home, but in other countries.

In Ottawa, Hakim has refined an innovative university-training and community outreach program to help future medical practitioners address the health needs of newly arrived refugees. The program, initiated by fellow medical student Sara Hostland, will soon go online for medical schools across North America.

Abroad, Hakim recently founded a charitable organization, the Tumaini Children's Project, in Kisumu, Kenya. Medical students doing clinical electives in tropical medicine volunteer at orphanages to help children and youth affected by HIV/AIDS gain access to the skills and resources they need to play a positive role in society.

The project also eases collaboration between Ottawa youth and their Kenyan counterparts on key development challenges.

"Tumaini, which means 'hope' in Swahili, is helping children realize they can change things and gain control of their destiny," says Hakim, who specialized in African studies before entering medicine. "It's also helping medical students and Ottawa youth realize just how much they can contribute to the global community."