Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk
â€œI was in Ecuador doing this and thatâ€™s where a lot of these ideas came from,â€? explains Abdullah. In Africa, accompanied by two other medical students, he started the Kenya Ceramic Project, as it has come to be known. They built a factory to produce the easy to use filter, run and owned by locals. â€œWeâ€™ve transitioned the factory fully into Kenyan hands, local Kenyans are making them, local people are selling them.â€? You can walk into a supermarket in Kenya and you can walk out with a filter, ready to use, for a small price that covers the materials and labour and a small margin to cover any future repairs. Abdullah never sees this money. â€œ100 percent of the money we raise goes to the project,â€? he says. In fact, he pays for his own flights to and from Kenya, and all associated fees. They provide advice and information sessions to the populace as well, he explains, â€œ[We are] also targeting education and research to improve access to these filters.â€? The goal is to expand the project to other countries, and to make the filters even more efficient and rid more contaminants.
ABDULLAH SALEH Surgical resident, inventor
r. Abdullah Saleh is a gift to humankind. The easy going inventor runs ICChangeâ€”Innovative Canadians for Changeâ€”a not-for-profit organization making headlines for its socially conscious agenda. He started ICChange after he invented a ceramic water filter, a simple device but an impressive contribution. He realized, on a volunteer trip to Ecuador where he worked in a paediatric hospital, that most of the diseases and issues he was treating could be marginally avoided if the water in the region was clean and safe. â€œI thought really the best way of fightingâ€Ś is to go back and address the basic determinates of health.â€? His answer was to develop the filter.
ICChange is currently working on six projects, all with socially aware intention and the idea of peopleâ€™s health first. Visit the website, www.icchange.ca, to see all of its projects, including the Kibera Medical Record Initiative and the International Surgery Project. Abdullah is the head of each project, and knows that â€œhaving a good team is important.â€? He admits it was hard to pass on some tasks to other ICChange members, but now he enjoys pushing people to take leadership roles. He tries to pass on the spotlight to his team members as well, but the humble achiever has been attracting attentionâ€”enough to be invited to Calgary to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Will and Kate, on their Canadian tour where they learned about the filter and expressed much interest. On top of running his organization and travelling around the world, the 27-year old is completing his residency in general surgery at the University of Alberta Hospital. He is the man waiting on the helipad when STARS arrives. He says that his education helps the organization, â€œbecause we came from medicine, we also had the possibility to teach people about diseaseâ€Ś and come up with hand-washing protocols,â€? a simple but effective preventative measure. Abdullahâ€™s mission is one of selflessness and true caring. Through his dedication to improving conditions in developing countries, he has raised the bar on how to aid those less fortunate. âˆš ~ Carrie Robinson
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