Meg Bearor (New ‘12), Programs Intern, Jifundishe and Leader, Operation Groundswell

Meg Bearor (New '12) Photo Credit: Amanda Hyliger

Meg Bearor (New ’12)
Photo Credit: Amanda Hyliger

Meg Bearor knew East Africa was where she wanted to be. So she jumped at the opportunity to take a service-learning trip to East Africa after her third year of university (organized by the non-profit Operation Groundswell, which was co-founded by University of Toronto alumnus David Berkal [UC ‘11]). The experience, combined with her studies in Political Science and African Studies, solidified her desire to work in the non-profit sector.

“I’ve always known the direction I’d be taking, but Operation Groundswell helped hit that home,” Bearor says. “It showed me a way into the development world at the grassroots level and paired very well with my studies.”

After graduation, Bearor returned to Operation Groundswell to lead two East African programs each summer.

“Operation Groundswell’s stance is not to go to a community with a project in mind,” Bearor says. “Instead, we work with local organizations that have year-round programming and help out where we can based on the community’s needs.”

When Bearor sought additional non-profit work, she found an organization with a similar view – Jifundishe, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which provides educational opportunities to rural villagers in Tanzania. As a programs intern, Bearor helps develop program reports that are translatable and shareable with other organizations. She also shadows the executive director to learn the ins and outs of running a grassroots NGO.

Bearor, who was the New College Student Council (NCSC) president from 2011-2012, says her education and council experience impact her work today.

Alumna Meg Bearor worked with Young County Change Makers (YCCM) in Kisumu, Kenya through Operation Groundswell. Pictured above, YCCM member Zaq Okwello leads a life-skills workshop, teaching a group of youth who live in a remand home how to make sandals which they can later sell as a source of income.

Alumna Meg Bearor worked with Young County Change Makers (YCCM) in Kisumu, Kenya through Operation Groundswell. Pictured above, YCCM member Zaq Okwello leads a life-skills workshop, teaching a group of youth who live in a remand home how to make sandals which they can later sell as a source of income.

“I’m from a small town in Maine, so coming to U of T and meeting people from different places and perspectives has prepared me for what I’m doing now,” Bearor says. “And I learned so much through NCSC, particularly how to manage and work with a wide range of people with different interests and goals.”

What’s next for this young alumna? Next year, Bearor plans to begin graduate studies in nonprofit and public management. Afterwards, she intends to return to East Africa to work in nonprofit management in the education advocacy sector.

“I enjoy working with passionate people,” Bearor says. “I’ve been able to meet young people who are working to effect change in their own community, and I find that really motivating.”

Related:

Community-Engaged Alumni: Karen Buckenham (New ‘85)
Community-Engaged Alumni: Joseph Mapa (New ‘73)