150+ Canadians Day 106: John Geddes

Dr. John Geddes contributed to peace by founding CanAssist Africa, a charity that funds small infrastructure projects in East Africa.

Dr. John Geddes is a Kingston family physician, Queen’s University Professor and founder of CanAssist Africa, a charity that funds small infrastructure projects in East Africa. Dr. Geddes presently spends half his time as Director of Operations for CanAssist.

Dr. Geddes has a background in rural medicine and student health. His first exposure to International Development was as Clinical Educator with the Queen’s Family Medicine Development Program in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).  From 1998 to 2009 he traveled regularly to BiH to teach physicians and nurses and help development of the discipline of Family Medicine in the country as it recovered from war. From 2004 to 2013 he was Medical Director for the McGill Canadian Field Studies in Africa programme and founded CanAssist African Relief Trust in 2008.

“Most of us would not hesitate to wade into a shallow pool to save a drowning child, even if it meant getting our new leather shoes wet and dirty.  Taken more broadly, giving up the cost of a night out at the movies to help vulnerable children in Africa follows the same moral responsibility. A life saved is a life saved, whether in a Canadian water park or a Ugandan village.” 

The goal of CanAssist is to improve the factors that we consider social determinants of health and well-being, through funding infrastructure improvements in the community that benefit the many, not just the few. CanAssist projects in Kenya and Uganda have included sending money for the purchase of school desks and hospital beds, building hospital laundry facilities and school latrines, developing water and sanitation projects – all of which dramatically improve the living conditions for many.

Communities, schools and health facilities come to CanAssist with ideas about what sustainable infrastructure will improve their well-being. 95% of funds raised go directly to on site projects, where work provides temporary employment to local men and women.

Since April, 2008, CanAssist Relief Trust has funded over 60 projects in East Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, totalling $850,000. 

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