Change Agents: Janice Levine

“It’s amazing what can happen when you open your mind and lead with your heart.  The universe, in gratitude, rewards you with possibilities you never could have conceived.”

Those words of wisdom come from Dr Janice Levine. Wisdom that grew from a unique experience she had at last year’s Connecting for Change event, part of the Vancouver Peace Summit. 

Connecting for Change (C4C) was a three-day gathering of business, social sector, and philanthropic leaders to learn from each other about how they could create cross-sector collaborations to address pressing issues around the world.

Representing MedWish International, Dr Levine was attending C4C on what she calls a “hunch”.

She confesses: “I attended C4C under false pretense.  MedWish International – my cousin’s brainchild – let me serve as its ambassador, but in no way was I formally qualified. I felt called to C4C on a hunch but had no relevant titles or credentials to back me up. “

Dr Janice Levine and Dr Robert Kalyesubula met at Connecting for Change (photo courtesy of Janice Levine)Her hunch paid off. At one of the C4C sessions, she met a doctor from Uganda, Robert Kalyesubula. Dr Kalyesubula operates a medical clinic in Uganda that has adequate human resources  – they have trained over 60 community nurses – yet it lacks many necessary medical supplies.

If you’re familiar with MedWish International, you can understand why this pairing could be a fruitful one. MedWish donates medical supplies to individuals and organizations dedicated to providing care that directly lessens the burden of suffering people in under served areas.

The two doctors, from opposite sides of the globe, came together at C4C and as Dr Levine says, “an organization was born”.

The African Community Center for Social Sustainability (ACCESS), a newborn entity, was sprung into life at C4C and they got right to work. First step: figuring out how to supply Dr Kalyesubula’s clinic with necessary medical equipment.

“This is the power and promise of C4C,” says Dr Levine.  “A Petri dish of possibility, ideas begging to hatch.” 

Through Dr Levine and Dr Kalyesubula’s C4C encounter, MedWish put together a container of donated medical supplies to be sent to Uganda.  From here another “C4Cer”, Mary Tidlund, applied to the project what Dr Levine calls “her Midas touch” and arranged for the container to be shipped to the East African country. (read Mary Tidlund’s story)
“We now have confirmation that the shipment has just arrived in Kampala, and Robert and his team are very excited and working round the clock to unload it,” says Dr Levine.

“Eighty-one villages and up to 40,000 people will benefit from the supplies,” she says.

What’s next for Dr Levine and ACCESS?

“Anything is possible,” she says.  “A grant writer has caught the fever and is joining our team, we now have a web site that hopes to build partnerships from around the world; we're planning to visit Uganda and are interviewing candidates to manage the ACCESS clinic, and we have some terrific fundraising ideas in the works.”

The whole C4C experience has given Dr Levine a new concept of the prerequisites for change.

“I know now that it’s not about credentials or qualifications,” she says. “But rather about daring to dream and putting faith in the possible.”