STM Board Member, Dena Thomas
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
For Save the Mothers’ board member Dena Thomas, caring about maternal health in the developing world began with seeing the world with new eyes.
While on a trip to Uganda with her church, she met Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese and observed the challenges that the women of Uganda face every day. “I felt ignorant,” Dena says. “How little I knew of the conditions women faced during labor and delivery in developing countries like Uganda. The lack of awareness of basic human rights astounded me.
After her eight months trip, Dena decided to go back to school to obtain a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She already had a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo. “My trip to Uganda motivated me to return to school for my Master’s Degree in Public Health – to enhance my confidence and leadership skills and improve my ability to advocate for maternal health and human rights,” says Dena.
While in Uganda, Dena volunteered as an administrator with the Save the Mothers program on the campus of Uganda Christian University. She helped students with their academic research and workload, assisted with scheduling academic modules for the MPHL program, and helped develop and support the Mother Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. “I helped. But I also learned a lot as well,” says Dena.
Dena worked for Hamilton Health Sciences in Diagnostic Imaging and Clinical Informatics for 18 years. She is actively involved in Christian ministry in Hamilton, Ontario including volunteering for TrueCity – a group of 22 churches cooperating together and celebrating what God is doing in the city of Hamilton.
Dena and her husband will soon mark their 29th wedding anniversary. The couple plans a camping trip to celebrate their love and life together. They have three children. Dena enjoys hiking, cycling and running.
“The biggest challenge I find is to convince friends, family and colleagues that we belong to a larger global community – where we have responsibilities to others who lack access to basic human rights such as health care.”