Grant for global outreach

Government gives $1.3 million to Queen’s project

A team of up to 20 Queen’s students will depart for Bangladesh on Feb. 11 after being awarded $1.3 million from the Canadian International Development Association.

Approximately $270,000 will also be donated to the project by Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Volunteers will provide medical services, educational resources and policy advice within five regions in Bangladesh as part of the International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR).

The ICACBR is a Queen’s-affiliated organization that aims to strengthen maternal and child health and provide disability-support programs, impacting roughly 7,000 people directly.

The funding will cover the start-up and operation of the project for three years. ICACBR is the first and only university-based project from central Canada to be funded by CIDA.

“There’s a pretty big pool of Queen’s faculty, staff and students on all our initiatives,” ICACBR Director Djenana Jalovcic said. The project will work with government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to decide on priority groups within the chosen regions.

In Bangladesh, physically-disabled people are marginalized and socially isolated, Jalovcic said, adding that they’re viewed as unproductive.

“Generally the attitudes are very negative and life is very difficult,” Jalovcic said. “Women who are disabled from complications due to pregnancy are very often excommunicated.”

The government of Bangladesh has implemented programs to provide medical support for those with disabilities but has few resources. The facilities are typically inaccessible and understaffed. Due to the high level of poverty, the greatest need for support is in rural communities — where government services are rare.

Currently, the Bangladesh government only offers a small number of rehabilitation programs in specialized hospitals. There are very few of these services offered at a community level.

“There is a need and the need is huge. There is a huge gap between what is needed and what is provided,” said Darko Krznaric, one of the team’s members.

To achieve these goals ICACBR has partnered with the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP) which is an established local NGO in Bangladesh.

“The uniqueness of the present program is to take maternal and child health and disability programs and merge them into one stop approach to the community,” said Malcolm Peat, executive director of ICACBR.

The core project members will live in Bangladesh for just under one year and the rest of the team will stay for three weeks but return every few months.

“It’s a benefit for everybody. They gain experience and the project gains skills,” Peat said. “We have the skills that can be applied to the development of individuals who are victims of circumstances, conflict or poverty.”

— With files from Meaghan Wray

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