Sandra McGirr


Sandra has been intimately involved in the organization since its inception, initially in collaboration with her husband, Sandy Hart. During the first year of DESEA’s operation Sandra volunteered at Kausay Wasi Clinic in the village of Coya, and in her free time helped with DESEA biosand filter installations. As community demand for biosand filters grew, Sandra shifted her focus to DESEA’s water initiatives while beginning to assess community health needs and to deliver health services. Sandra’s exposure to the health challenges in Andean communities inspired her to develop DESEA’s first health care program.

Sandra’s primary contribution to DESEA is in the development of a community health worker training program that has yielded unprecedented results, bringing the mortality rate in implemented areas from levels higher than the national average to zero. To teach illiterate learners, this innovative program uses hands-on practices such as art and storytelling rather than written materials as primary training methods.

Sandra has extensive experience in public health, health promotion, and illness prevention education, disciplines which are the focus of her work with DESEA. She has worked for over 30 years in expanded-practice community nursing, mainly in remote communities for federal and provincial governments in British Columbia and in northern Canada’s Nunavut territory.

Sandra completed a BScN in Nursing at McMaster University (Ontario, Canada) in 1987 and a Masters in Nursing (with a Global Health emphasis) at Athabasca University (Alberta, Canada) in 2010.