Azalea Lehndorff, MPH '14

Medical Student

University of Calgary

Afghanistan Project Coordinator

A Better World Canada

Since 2010, Azalea Lehndorff has been building classrooms for girls in Afghanistan. After experiencing her own struggles in getting her high school education, Lehndorff, read about the ban that the Taliban had implemented on education for girls in Afghanistan and wanted to help.

She approached A Better World Canada, and with their support she founded the 100 Classrooms Project. The project seeks to strengthen the education system in Afghanistan by building classrooms, laboratories, libraries and by providing teaching resources to students in rural areas.

"We have built 71 classrooms of 100 thus far," says Lehndorff. "We are seeing girls graduating from grade 12 for the first time. We're also seeing schools that we thought were adequate in size when we built them fill up because of the demand for education."

Lehndorff was in Afghanistan building classrooms when she applied for the MPH program in the School of Public Health. She saw the potential that public health had in communities, and she wanted to develop tools and skills that could help her tackle some of the issues she was facing.

"During my work in Afghanistan, I witnessed lack of education, limited access to health care and minimal knowledge about health in general," explains Lehndorff. "I knew that having my master in public health degree would allow me to gain perspective and better equip me to work in underserved communities."

Recently, she was recognized for this work by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation and was named to their Top 30 under 30. This list highlights extraordinary young people who are working towards a just and sustainable future for everyone. As Lehndorff continues her work with the 100 Classrooms Project, she has also taken on a new role: medical student. She hopes to complete her degree in 2018.

"My goal is not only to serve individual patients in low resource settings," says Lehndorff. "Also, using both my medical and public health degrees, I would like to help build capacity in communities, improve medical training programs, and contribute to health and education at a systems level."

(Last updated February, 2018)