With International Women’s Day on March 8, we are proud to highlight a few out of the many remarkable women who teach, work and study at Humber College.

Frankie Burg-Feret

Frankie Burg-Feret

Burg-Feret, a professor in the nursing program, is executive director of the non-profit organization Silent Children’s Mission. The organization’s goal is to provide education, healthcare, spiritual care and counselling to those who don’t have a voice – particularly women and children.

Since 2015, Burg-Feret has taken a group of health sciences students to Guatemala during reading week. Over the course of 10 days they conduct health assessments on and provide medical care to hundreds of children living in under-resourced communities, including at the Valle de Los Angeles orphanage.

“There are kids here that are abused physically, sexually … it’s hard for us to really imagine what that must be like,” Burg-Feret said.

On their most recent trip, in February 2017, the children, many whom are seen by Burg-Feret and the students year after year, showed dramatic improvements from the first time they were in Guatemala.

Click here to watch Cultural Humility, the documentary from the 2016 Guatemala trip.

Sabra Desai

Sabra Desai

Growing up in a small village in apartheid South Africa, Desai was told she would never go to university.

Now, as a manager in Humber’s Community Outreach and Workforce Development department, she helps women, youth and newcomers to Canada find jobs and pursue higher education.

In 2015 Desai was named one of the YWCA’s Women of Distinction for her work in the community, which includes helping establish Interim Place, the first Peel Region shelter for abused women, and setting up the South Asian Women’s Centre in Toronto.

Before joining Community Outreach and Workforce Development in 2009, Desai taught in Humber’s School of Social and Community Services for 16 years. She is retiring this year.

Renee Foessel

Renee Foessel

The Criminal Justice student missed the first few weeks of class last semester – but had a very good reason.

Foessel was in Rio de Janeiro to compete in discus throw in the Paralympic Games, where she placed fourth. In 2015, she placed first for discus, second for shot put and third for javelin at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, and in third for discus at the IPC World Championships in Qatar.

Foessel has Hemiplegia (a type of Cerebral Palsy), which means the right side of her body is weaker than the left.

“My disability may not be very visual, as it is mild, (but) there are variations of adaptations that my coach and I have had to adjust to my training habits,” she told Humber Today last year, before travelling to the Paralympics.

“My right ankle and wrist are where I am most vulnerable to adapting training and lifting as the ability to acquire an injury is at higher risk if I don't complete the exercise carefully … (But) there are no barriers in what I can do, only adaptations.”

Sabrina Rubli

Sabrina Rubli

A graduate of the International Development program, Rubli has helped provide more than 6,000 women and girls in East Africa the knowledge and resources to manage their periods and remove the stigma.

While studying at Humber, Rubli and her classmate Ella Marinic were tasked with designing a water sanitation program for a rural Kenyan community. This got them wondering how women without regular access to water managed while on their period. 

While researching options, they discovered that girls in Kenya’s poorer areas missed on average four days of school a month, mainly due to staying home during their periods. 

After cofounding Femme International, Rubli and her team partnered with East African schools and community organizations to deliver the Feminine Health Empowerment Program. The program covers puberty, reproductive anatomy, sexual health, body hygiene, menstruation, and menstrual management, and aims to remove taboos about periods and gender.

Every girl and woman who participates in the program receives a Femme Kit, which includes either a menstrual cup or washable pads – sustainable and reusable options that remove the financial burden that typically comes with menstruation.