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Members’ profiles: April 2013

This month’s profiles includes members from all 5 continents: Africa, Oceania, America, Asia and Europe. It is a great example of the diversity of our members, something we value in the Association. Diversity is currently quite discussed and can be put in the centre of some crucial aspects of public policy, social equalities, mutual respect within societies. We can think about the relations between biodiversity and food diversity, which is so important in a balanced diet. While we lose biodiversity in nature, in parallel our plates are becoming less and less diverse, based too much on potatoes, wheat, red meat, refined sugar. It is a terrible tendency of the current society model that must be changed. Also very important in matters of community is social diversity, as we present in the profiles this month. To respect our differences and learn with other people’s experiences is fundamental.

Let’s read some extracts from the profiled members:

Ali Dhansay: ‘Though it cannot be equated with the scale of discrimination experienced by the majority of my country men and women, my family of ‘South Africans of Indian descent’ had to obtain permission to live in a Coloured area, as Indians were supposed to reside in their own demarcated Group Areas. I was fortunate to attend a ‘Coloured’ secondary school seen as being politically progressive. Through its teachers – many of whom were detained by the police – and its students, the basis for my political and social education was established. Note that at the time there were education departments for each of the ‘Population Groups’ in South Africa (White, Indian, Coloured, Bantu). Since my family was rather conservative in its political and general outlook, I actively engaged them on the critical issues affecting our country.’

Amanda Lee: ‘For over 30 years I’ve had the privilege of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, trying to improve food supply and nutritional status mainly in Central and Northern Australia. In recent years, however, I have become increasingly frustrated by the rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes and associated renal disease in these communities. So many old friends and colleagues are dying far too young- an appalling situation in such an affluent country.’

Deborah Navarro Rosenblatt: ‘My subsequent studies in Nutrition and Dietetics at Universidad de Chile enabled me to fine-tune my research interests. Here, I decided to focus on improving the health of entire populations across the world. Volunteering for local NGO Un Techo para Chile confronted with the shocking reality that my country lacked public health policies to address the epidemic of chronic diseases wracking society’s most deprived members. This strengthened me in my conviction that my talents would be best directed towards population-level research and change.’

Nick Mawani: ‘I was born in Fort Hall, Kenya in 1962. My dad worked in the government of Kenya, so I had the pleasure of travelling with him to a significant number of villages and towns where he brought electricity to them by fixing their diesel power generators. It was meeting the tribal chiefs as a very young child that I developed keen interest in the health of the people. Chiefs of Kikuyu, Luo, Kamba, Chaga, Kalenjin, Masai, among others always fed me healthy, natural non-chemicalized foods that embedded the concept of healthy nutrition in my psyche. As I progressed in my education from nursery school to primary and high school, my interest in healthy living grew in parallel. When I climbed Mount Kenya to Point Lenana at 17,053 feet, at age 17, I was pondering upon my future education and landed up in University of Ottawa, Canada.’

Pheak Chhoun: ‘Nutrition field has caught my interest for many years since I have been raised in a poor community where the access to food with appropriate nutrient is quite low. During my working period, I have

seen and involved with many children living with poor nutrition, and being disadvantaged from accessing to food and nutrition service in their community. Moreover, I have noticed that many different parts of the world are challenging with overcoming both undernutrition and overnutrition.’

Shara Smith: ‘I was born in Ireland – I grew up on the family farm, which has shaped my values and curiosity about food, being involved in agriculture from an early age. I enjoyed cooking and preparing food and became interested in the association between food and health, strongly believing “you are what you eat”. Having developed a strong interest in science at school, I studied for a BSc (Hons) Nutritional Sciences at University College, Cork (UCC). Thereafter, I pursued a master’s degree in Biotechnology at UCC.’

To read more about our members, check our Membership Directory.

If you want more information about members’ profiles, contact our Assistant Editor Isabela Sattamini.

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