Heart for Maternal Health

The EMBRACE Agents of Change

The Agents of Change are 10 Canadian university students, who will travel overseas for three weeks in August to learn about global maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) and nutrition issues. Students will be divided into three groups, each of which will visit a different EMBRACE project country – Cambodia, the Philippines, or Rwanda – and have a chance to directly observe and learn from project activities. Upon their return to Canada, the Agents of Change will work with ADRA Canada to use their new awareness and knowledge to engage their communities in global MNCH and nutrition issues. They will each be expected to host at least two awareness-raising events per year within their communities, until September 2019. The Field Coordinators are volunteers who will lead logistics planning and preparations in the project countries ahead of the AoCs’ visit, and will be guiding the AoCs through their learning experience in the field.


Believe Dhliwayo
Field Coordinator - Cambodia

Believe Dhliwayo is a full-time double major student (International Development Studies & Bachelors in Health Studies - Policy) with York University, and a former International Volunteer.

He has over 10 years working experience either as frontline staff or at times in supervisory roles, with Government or NGO agencies, in North America and Southern Africa. He has diverse NGO skills that range from program development, management, monitoring and evaluation, documentation, resource mobilization, networking and ensuring equitable community participation and ownership through empowerment.

Believe enjoys making new friends from diverse ethnic backgrounds, singing and missionary work aimed at restoration of dignity and status of the marginalized. He is married and has four kids.



Andy Tan
Agent of Change - Cambodia

Andy Tan is a third-year nursing student in the BScN program at Ryerson University.

He is ecstatic for this international volunteer opportunity because he is able to amalgamate his intrinsic passion for health promotion, education, and global equity along with his nursing competency to critically address maternal, newborn, and child health issues in developing countries.

His passion for global health and equity motivated him to conceptualize an initiative called Run For Righteousness which allocates long-term, sustainable resources in areas affected by poverty and injustice in Northern Uganda. Through this not-for-profit initiative, he has fundraised for sanitary and educational resources to increase personal health practices for young girls as well as empower them to feel confident in consistently attending school without judgment or stigma.

In the future, he hopes to become an acute care Nurse Practitioner to potentially provide triage relief to health epidemics but more importantly, facilitate policy and infrastructure development to allow health care to be continuous and sustainable.

Emily Tsang
Agent of Change - Cambodia

Emily recently completed her Bachelor of Science in Global Resource Systems at the University of British Columbia. Her specialization was International Development and Food Systems in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Currently, she is pursuing a career in audio and video documentary production with the intention of applying to graduate school in Journalism in Denmark after a few years of work experience.

She had previously lived in Hong Kong and Norway and is now permanently based in the rainy city of Vancouver.

One of her favourite things in the world is being knee deep in fluffy white snow in -20 degree weather, and she tries to stray away from the humid summer heat whenever and wherever possible. She enjoys spending her downtime in the outdoors or exploring the city, be it in her own neighbourhood or somewhere on the other side of the world. She's been practicing MMA for a few years now and is also training for her first duathlon. 

Katrina El Asmar
Agent of Change - Cambodia

Katrina is 19-years old and currently lives in Ottawa with her parents and 17-year old sister. Her mother is French Canadian and her father is Lebanese. 

She has just completed her second year at the University of Ottawa in the Nutrition program.

A few of her hobbies include playing badminton and volleyball, spending time in nature, and reading. She really enjoys working with kids and making a difference in the community. She participates in volunteering activities in her community such as food drives, fundraising for different causes, and being a counsellor at summer camps. For the past 5 years, she has worked as a badminton camp counsellor. She's also part of the Health Ministry team at her church.

Laura Olech
Agent of Change - Cambodia

Laura is entering her second year in the midwifery program at Laurentian University. Being a student midwife is a dream come true since maternal-infant health care is her passion and calling.

She lives with her family near Barrie, Ontario in the country with two horses, two dogs and four cats. Her hobbies include natural horsemanship, writing, going on walks in nature with her dogs, and swing dancing.


Lacey Willmott
Field Coordinator - Philippines

Lacey Willmott is a PhD student at the University of Waterloo, where she studies development geography through research on gender equality, global health and disasters.

She has a background in livelihoods and sustainability work, and has lived and worked in multiple countries across South East Asia, Southern Africa and to a lesser extent South America. This includes work in Palawan, Philippines where she worked for Western Philippines University teaching and administering their community development extension program.

Last spring she taught a field course in Indonesia on natural disasters and hazards, and is looking forward to getting back into the field this summer as an EMBRACE volunteer.

Mariah Dempster
Agent of Change - Philippines

Mariah Dempster is a 22-year old student from Sudbury, Ontario currently in her 4th year of Social Work at Laurentian University.

She is extremely excited to be participating in the EMBRACE Project.

Shivam Chadha
Agent of Change - Philippines

He is a first year Kinesiology student at Laurentian University hoping to pursue a career in medicine. He would love to be involved in paediatrics and neonatal health, working with children around the world—the reason why this opportunity is so exciting for him!

He enjoys exploring new cultures and meeting new people, as well as challenging his perspectives with new outlooks to social matters.

He is thrilled about going to Philippines, a nation politically and culturally similar to his birth country of India. He looks forward to working with ADRA and YCI to make a difference in MNCH.

Sydney Groen
Agent of Change - Philippines

Sydney is a student at McGill University studying international development with a minor in pathology.

She is from Ottawa and lives in Montreal for school, but is currently in Mistissini, Quebec tutoring Cree high school students in science (and loving it!).

Sydney is super excited to participate in the EMBRACE program and learn more about maternal and child health and nutrition in rural areas of the Philippines. She is passionate about global health, gender inequity, indigenous issues, and education. 

Sydney loves travelling and discovering new places both in new and familiar cities, going to music festivals and shows, and her cat, Luna.


Rebecca Bell
Field Coordinator - Rwanda

Rebecca Bell is excited to join the EMBRACE program as a Field Coordinator in Rwanda. She is from Toronto where her family and two puppies live.

She has recently returned home from working with UN-Habitat at their headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya where she helped manage global youth programming. In 2015, she worked in Luwero, Uganda for six months at a maternal health center and fell in love with community development and global health.

She completed her master’s degree in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and holds a BA in International Development and Political Science from the University of Guelph. Most of her research interests relate to global health, as well as food security studies. Her thesis was on the role of faith-based organizations providing healthcare in East Africa, so she's curious to learn more about ADRA projects on maternal, newborn and child health. She firmly believes in the unique creativity and perseverance of youth and is excited to explore these topics from new perspectives.

She looks forward to living in and learning more about Rwanda and working with the team! In her spare time, she enjoys exploring coffee shops, running, and being outdoors. 

Bobbak Makooie
Agent of Change - Rwanda

Bobbak Makooie is 29 and from North York (Toronto) Ontario, where he has grown up and lived for most of his life. He currently holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a focus on brain, behaviour and cognitive sciences, with a research background in multisensory integration and social determinants of health.

In his spare time he enjoys reading, sculpting, writing calligraphy, and martial arts. He's currently completing a compressed time frame Bachelor of Nursing at Western University, with the goal of providing nursing care in resource limited countries and communities in Canada.

The EMBRACE project is very important to him as it will expose him to maternal, newborn and child health needs in a resource limited environments, which he hopes will ultimately help him be a better nurse at the local and global levels. 

Imke Bertens
Agent of Change - Rwanda

Imke is thrilled to be part of the team heading to Rwanda in August!

She is 25 years old and is currently studying Midwifery at Laurentian University. Prior to starting her midwifery degree, she completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences at Western University, from which she graduated in June 2015. After graduating from Western, she moved to The Netherlands for one year to begin her Midwifery studies. It is after this year that she moved back to Ontario, Canada to study Midwifery at Laurentian.

She is very passionate about maternal and newborn health care and is therefore very enthusiastic about being involved in this project!

When she is not attending school, she calls Stratford, Ontario her home.

Laura Smith
Agent of Change - Rwanda

Laura has bounced around a lot but right now she's from Winnipeg.

She's studying International Development Studies and she aspires to study paediatrics after medical school. She's an avid traveller and her most recent trip was a solo adventure and volunteer practicum in Southeast Asia.

She is very excited to join the team in this project and is thrilled to be headed for Rwanda.