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Nourish International

Nourish Receives $15,000 from Park Foundation!

January 1, 2013 | Posted in 2012, Nourish Office | By

Nourish receives $15,000 from Park Foundation!

Nourish International is excited to be the recipient of a $15,000 grant from the Park Foundation. This grant will fund Nourish International’s work around the country and the world. We are honored to receive continued support from the Park Foundation.

The Park Foundation’s mission is to support scholarships in higher education, quality media that heightens public awareness of critical issues, and protection of the environment. “Nourish International is today’s intercollegiate response to today’s and tomorrow’s global needs,” says Park Foundation Trustee Bill Bondurant. “It is youthful, positive, entrepreneurial, world-conscious, educational and energizing. These are among the reasons that the Park Foundation has been happy to encourage Nourish International’s impressive growth.”

Many thanks to the Park Foundation — we are excited and honored that they continue to join us in making a lasting impact on global poverty.

Give the Gift of Nourish: Kaitlin Gregg

December 20, 2012 | Posted in 2012, Alumni Spotlight, Nourish Office | By

The holidays are approaching and we all know what that means: scurrying to buy all the right gifts, attending holiday parties, decorating the house and did we mention buying gifts? The holidays are the perfect time to give the very special gift of Nourish to your loved ones. Contributions equip communities with the tools they need to pull themselves out of poverty and shape students into lifelong leaders of change. In spirit of the holiday season, this month we will be featuring some of the generous individuals who decided to Give the Gift of Nourish.

Meet Kaitlin Gregg, a Nourish International Alumni Committee member and UC Davis Chapter Founder, and learn why she Gives the Gift of Nourish:

“I support Nourish International because Nourish has done so much for me personally! Nourish prepared me for a career in the nonprofit sector; every day in my job, I use the communications and management skills I gained while directing the Nourish chapter at UC Davis. Through Nourish, I learned how to lead a team in working to support a cause and developed valuable entrepreneurship skills. My involvement with Nourish is not only one of the most valuable experiences of my undergraduate career, but also one of the most memorable.

Nourish is providing leadership opportunities like these to students across the country. One student at a time, Nourish is effecting positive change. I support Nourish International because I believe in the Nourish movement and am excited to see it grow, one change-maker and one community at a time.”

Give the Gift of Nourish: Sindhura and Tommy

December 15, 2012 | Posted in 2012, Nourish Office | By

The holidays are approaching and we all know what that means: scurrying to buy all the right gifts, attending holiday parties, decorating the house and did we mention buying gifts? The holidays are the perfect time to give the very special gift of Nourish to your loved ones. Contributions equip communities with the tools they need to pull themselves out of poverty and shape students into lifelong leaders of change. In spirit of the holiday season, this month we will be featuring some of the generous individuals who decided to Give the Gift of Nourish.

Meet Sindhura Citineni. Sindhura founded the original Hunger Lunch Venture on UNC-Chapel Hill’s undergraduate campus in March 2002. Sindhura led a team of passionate Hunger Lunch members to participate and win 2nd place in the Carolina Challenge business competition that then formed into the expanded version with a new name, Nourish International.  She won several awards and Fellowships associated with Nourish such as the Burch Fellowship, Robert E. Bryan Fellowship, Carolina Undergraduate Health Fellowship, Marion Dixon BSBA Scholarship, and recruited as a member into the Order of the Golden Fleece, UNC’s most prestigious honor society.  Sindhura is also the recipient of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Outstanding Young Alumni of the Year Award (2007-2008).

Read about why Sindhura and her husband Tommy Thekkekandam continue to generously support Nourish International.

“When it first began, I put in $400 of my own money to order beans, rice, and cornbread for our first test-run of Hunger Lunch at UNC.  At that lunch we sold out of food!  At our second test-lunch, I met my future husband, Tommy Thekkekandam.  Nourish has continued to introduce me to amazing experiences more and more inspiring people who joined our special movement along the way (Joel Thomas, James Dillard, Virginia Carson, Frank Pheonix, Erik Daubert, Buck Goldstein, Ryan Allis…the list goes on and there are just TOO many to name here!)  The process of building Nourish shaped who I am today and what I believe we are capable of in this world.

This is why I give. Because Nourish happened to me and changed me for the better. And now Tommy and I happily give so that Nourish’s impact can grow to as many communities and colleges as possible.

With lots of love and support,

Sindhura and Tommy Thekkekandam”

Give the Gift of Nourish: Drs. Joel and Christy Shaffer

December 10, 2012 | Posted in 2012, Nourish Office | By

The holidays are approaching and we all know what that means: scurrying to buy all the right gifts, attending holiday parties, decorating the house and did we mention buying gifts? The holidays are the perfect time to give the very special gift of Nourish to your loved ones. Contributions equip communities with the tools they need to pull themselves out of poverty and shape students into lifelong leaders of change. In spirit of the holiday season, this month we will be featuring some of the generous individuals who decided to Give the Gift of Nourish.

This week we would like to introduce you to Drs. Joel and Christy Shaffer. They have both gone above and beyond to make our work at Nourish possible.

“We support Nourish as one of the top social entrepreneurship ventures in the nation that has accomplished a tremendous amount in less than a decade.  Nourish has demonstrated a resiliency during trying economic times and has continued to expand its chapter across the U.S.  Our interests are aligned with Nourish as we believe in supporting young people who are passionate about providing the right type of support to communities that can be transformative.  We are supporters of many great organizations in NC and Nourish is one of the best in terms of bringing diversity of thought and approach to do good around the world!  We are proud to be a part of the Chairman’s Circle and to support Kelly as the newest leader of this fine organization.”

Thank you, Drs. Joel and Christy Shaffer, for believing in our mission. Will you join the Shaffers and Give the Gift of Nourish?

Reflections on our Amazon Adventure

December 8, 2012 | Posted in 2012, Peru, UNM | By

The end of our time in Madre Selva was spent by going around to the different communities for the last time, giving away gifts to friends we had made, as well as passing the torch to Project Amazonas and their volunteers to finish the clinic project.  During our last week we were able to cheer on some of our friends in a local soccer game and we were guests at a one year old’s birthday party in Commandancia.

When we left the clinic site for the last time, we were able to look out on a huge area that we had cleared and leveled without the help of modern equipment. It was such an incredible experience to see how much we have completed and to understand how much of a help the clinic will be for the community.

Our last day of work.

The people living in the communities along the Rio Orosa do not currently have access to a health clinic. If someone were to have a serious injury they would have to take a thirty-minute boat ride to the small town of Yanashi to be seen by a doctor, or travel four hours to Iquitos where there is a hospital. These boat rides are costly and are only taken in dire need. The locals also make use of a Shaman who provides herbs and special drinks to cure ailments. The locals use a mixture of their traditional practices as well as modern medicine. They believe that this way, they are safe either way. Since locals are rarely able to travel to a doctor, once every few months a mobile clinic travels up the Amazon stopping at communities along the way. Project Amazonas organizes these trips with medical students and other volunteers. After the construction of the Santo Tomas Clinic, the local people will no longer have to rely on mobile clinics.

Rapidly dropping water levels on the Yanashi cut-through.

The construction of the Santo Tomas Clinic will allow the health promoter to keep up with the health needs of the people in the area and will provide the locals with access to a health center anytime they are in need. The projected completion of the clinic is February 2013 and although the clinic construction began with our Nourish International group, the project will be completed with the assistance of other Project Amazonas volunteers. In Peru, for a doctor to work in a government run hospital, they are required to serve a year in a rural health clinic. After the clinic is completed, these doctors will staff the clinic and we are hoping that eventually one will want to live there permanently. The grounds of the clinic are large enough for a house to be built on the premises. The director of Project Amazonas, Devon Graham, has recently been looking into having a cell tower built near the clinic that will allow the doctor to access a database where medical data and records will be stored. This will also allow the doctor to use the Internet to connect with doctors in Iquitos and around the world. This will be extremely beneficial because it will allow any concerns of the rural doctor to be solved quickly and effectively.

Passing Yanashi on the way home.

The four-hour boat ride back to Iquitos was bittersweet. We were all so excited to go back to civilization and to see our families and friends but we also knew that we would miss our new friends we had met in the Amazon. A very special moment for me was prior to leaving Madre Selva, a young girl came up to me and told me that I had become one of her best friends. I was so sad to have to say goodbye but I am so happy I had the chance to meet the people around Madre Selva and learn about their life and their culture.

Saying goodbye to some future clinic users.

Before this summer, I never would have seen myself doing a project like this. I love to help others but I didn’t believe I was capable of putting myself in such a different element. Even though we obviously could not have completed the entire clinic in seven weeks, I believe our efforts with this project not only created a positive change for the community, but also in all of us.



Amazon Week 7

December 8, 2012 | Posted in 2012, Peru, UNM | By

We started out this workday right—we spotted a sloth high in the trees on the way to the clinic site and watched him slowly climb down for a few minutes. Luckily, our pace was a lot quicker and we ended up clearing almost all of the dirt left in the ground for leveling.  Devon, Edwin, and Teo were present at the site to speed the work along and bring some Latin spice with a playlist of Peruvian tunes.

We later returned to Madre Selva to relax before lunch and talk about some of our favorite authors, when I heard someone say, “Mira, mira!” behind me.  I turned around right as one of the crewmembers was near my face holding an anaconda.  Despite his unhappiness, people took turns letting him wrap his body around their arms before he was released. The day ended gloriously! I finally saw the small black monkeys in the wild and I hadn’t seen them the entire time.  My Amazon experience is complete!


It’s the final week and we’ve started it with excitement! The evening consisted of a boat tour led by Cesar. We saw frogs and nighthawks, had a fish jump into the boat and hit Cesar’s neck, and watched him climb a tree to retrieve a boa.  Overall I would say it was a very wildlife-filled day.

Our next morning began when a Cayman was thrust towards my face before breakfast.  We held him for a while and let him hang around the common area before we released him into the fishpond on the premises.  Kelsey and I then went to Comandancia in the morning to conduct a final survey with the president’s wife, asking her about her experience.  We then got a tour of the town, received instructions from an elderly woman on how to chop a log that would later be used as a five-foot piece of a raft, and then experienced a “minga” with a group of drummers and dancers.


Saturday we spent the morning gathering items to give away, while we packed the rest and anxiously awaited Jimdevon’s 1st birthday and our departure the following day.  Sunday we attended a final meeting in Santo Tomas about the clinic and the future of the project.  We heard final opinions and said our goodbyes to the people we’d been working with for nearly two months—some acquaintances, some prominent members of the community, and others people we’ll never forget.

Birthday party, Amazon style.

The boat ride back was virtually problem-free aside from our driver having to physically move an entire floating island of lily pads with the boat.  We knew we’d experience culture shock after being away from ‘civilization’ for almost two months, but we were thankful to be back in the city of Iquitos.

The next few days were filled with going to the markets to see things like local art, woodworking products, and open food sections.  We also took the free time to reminisce on our experience.  Despite any minor setbacks that occurred, or partial feelings of isolation resulting in jungle fever, there’s absolutely nothing I would trade this experience for.  The people we met and the communities we’ve continually interacted with only strengthen the decision to continue with the clinic and future collaboration with Project Amazonas.



Amazon Week 6

December 8, 2012 | Posted in 2012, Peru, UNM | By

Yet another week has passed here in the Amazon, I think. After 6 weeks, it’s very difficult to tell what day it is, but I guess that doesn’t really matter out here. Anyway, here’s what we’ve been getting up to recently!

Although tangibly close to the end of a long stay in the jungle, our sixth week was perhaps the most difficult of them all for us. The excitement and intrigue of the rainforest never truly runs out, but weeks of hard work in the hot sun have certainly taken their toll. However, with a clear goal and new faces from Dr. Graham’s class, we powered on through the difficult times to achieve what we had come to do.

Making sure our former hillside is level.

We are continuing to work every day towards a foundation for the clinic. This foundation is both literal and figurative in the sense that it will be the basis of construction and it shows the communities and other donors that we are serious about our work. In the past, these communities have been promised many things. They may have been dubious about whether we were in the project for the long haul at first, but with all our work, I think we have proved to them that there will be a clinic here and that we will see it through until completion.

Working with Devon at the clinic site.

As always, we had a couple of work days with the communities. Thanks to this work time, we are learning a lot about each of the specific communities. Although they are very small, relatively new, and in the case of Santo Tomas and Nuevo Israel, actually connected, there are many differences, some immediately obvious and some more subtle which we are beginning to notice. Although these differences so far have separated the communities, to the point that some will not work together on the clinic, we hope that a completed clinic will help unite the communities by demonstrating what can be accomplished for the common good when they are all working together. It would be awesome to see the clinic site further develop into a community center, linking all of the Orosa River villages together.

Looking back over our project so far, it is fair to say that the whole process was more work than we had ever anticipated. Although the work we have accomplished so far may seem disheartening, when one considers the primitive tools used (machetes, axes, spades, etc.), it is really quite amazing. The ambitious goals initially set by Nourish and Project Amazonas have been readjusted to reality. Now, our goal is to clear a totally flat piece of land upon which the clinic can be built. One truly cannot appreciate how much work this is until one considers that we were flattening a hillside that was in the process of being converted from wild rainforest to a dense plantain plantation. Future groups will continue the work after us, with a goal of opening the clinic this spring. (Watch this blog for future updates!)

Although not technically in my time slot for blog writing, I would like to comment on our trip to Yanashi last week. One reason for why the clinic was so necessary is that the Yanashi clinic is often inaccessible once the river level has dropped during the dry season. On our ride into the jungle in May, just after the rainy season, we passed through the small waterway between Yanashi and the communities. Although it was clearly deep and wide enough then, 5 weeks later, the water had seriously dropped. In just a couple of weeks, this passage will not be navigable by boat for several months. This presents a serious problem for anybody in need of medical attention. Although we had all been told why the clinic was necessary, it was good to actually be able to see the reasons in person.

Futbol en Peru.

This Sunday was our final community soccer match as next Sunday we will be heading back to Iquitos. We have been going to these games, alternating between community venues, every week to spectate and to cheer on some of the Project Amazonas staff. Much of the community comes out to watch and we have used these opportunities to strengthen our bond with the community members. Although perhaps not the final farewell, it was sad to say goodbye as we left that evening.

Thanks for reading!


Amazon Week 5

December 8, 2012 | Posted in 2012, Peru, UNM | By

This week Dr. Devon Graham, the director of Project Amazonas, came to Madre Selva, which allowed us to meet him for the first time and ask him any questions we had about our project. On Monday, we were able to show him the worksite and plan our next steps for clearing and leveling the land. Seeing the ground clear of obstructions such as logs and massive roots in the ground enabled us to really feel as though we had accomplished something. The following day we had to say goodbye to Daniel and our new Australian friend Loren which made us all very sad because we were losing part of our little family.

Learning English with Mercedes.

A few days ago we were alerted that some children in the near by village of Santo Tomas were interested in learning English. I decided to volunteer and have them come to Madre Selva about twice a week to learn greetings and basic words in English. One boy in particular, named Felis, was extremely eager to learn and when I would run into him in Santo Tomas, he would greet me in English. One day this week he and his cousin brought me three large papayas they had grown as a present for my efforts working with them.

Wednesday we had a community work day with Comandancia where the strong efforts of the community were very apparent. Leveling is very hard work and without the assistance of the men, women, and children in the different communities, we would not have made so much progress in only a few weeks. I have been very impressed by the work ethic of my fellow project team members as well as the people in the community, especially the children. The young children have been assisting by carrying bags of dirt down the hill when the wheelbarrows are full. I was very impressed that the children were such hard workers even though their parents were not pushing them to assist and the heat made the job even harder.

Thursday night we had the most fun we have had all week! We took a half hour boat ride to Yanashi, a small city on the way to Iquitos, where we danced and were able to buy chocolate! It was quite a relief to be able to go somewhere new and explore an area that was larger than any of the communities around Madre Selva.

Another community work day.

Friday we were able to take a break and relax around Madre Selva in preparation for our Saturday work day at the clinic site with Nuevo Israel. The day was very hot and exhausting but it was good to see familiar faces and talk with the Nuevo Israel children at the work site. Saturday night a few of us went over to Comandancia to celebrate the holiday of San Juan. Although this community is not known for its Christian culture, but instead for its Yagua Indian traditions, we were able to witness a christening during the San Juan festivities. A really cool moment was when the people began to recite the Lord’s Prayer in Spanish, I was able to say it with them because I learned it in high school!

Although some times have been a struggle, I have greatly appreciated all of the experiences I have gained so far and am looking forward to the next few weeks!


-Mercedes Pratt

Give the Gift of Nourish: Jud Bowman

December 1, 2012 | Posted in 2012, Nourish Office | By

The holidays are approaching and we all know what that means: scurrying to buy all the right gifts, attending holiday parties, decorating the house and did we mention buying gifts? The holidays are the perfect time to give the very special gift of Nourish to your loved ones. Contributions equip communities with the tools they need to pull themselves out of poverty and shape students into lifelong leaders of change. In spirit of the holiday season, this month we will be featuring some of the generous individuals who decided to Give the Gift of Nourish.

Meet Jud Bowman. President and CEO of Appia, Bowman currently serves on Nourish’s Board of Directors. Bowman has been named one of the world’s “Top 100 Young Innovators” by MIT’s Technology Review and one of “Tech’s Best Young Entrepreneurs” by Business Week in 2007. He was also recognized as a winner of Carolina’s Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award in 2001. As a lifetime contributor, Bowman has gone above and beyond in supporting the Nourish movement.

“I support Nourish International because of the great work that they do to with young social entrepreneurs. Nourish students run businesses that not only impact their local economies, but invest profits in communities living in extreme poverty. I have seen Nourish grow from a few chapters to 28 campuses since I joined the Board of Directors. The scale of the movement, unbridled passion of young change-makers, and focused impact on extreme poverty makes Nourish International a great cause to devote my time to.”

Thank you, Jud, for your continued support for Nourish’s work. Will you join Jud and Give the Gift of Nourish?

Thankful For Nourish Donor and Supporter – Bill Bondurant

November 26, 2012 | Posted in 2012, Nourish Office | By

Last month, we learned about some of the scary truths that people living in extreme poverty face every day. Whether it is a lack of clean water, food or shelter, issues like these remind us to be thankful of what we have and also motivate us to make an impact in the world. Those involved in Nourish have proven that they just can’t turn a blind eye to some of these frightening statistics.

With Thanksgiving coming up, we want to dedicate this month to those individuals and groups that we are thankful for: our partner organizations, students, alumni, supporters, board of directors and National Office team. We also want this series to be interactive. Nourish community, please comment on blog posts and give your thanks for the different members of the Nourish community!

This week we would like to thank one of Nourish’s Donors, Bill Bondurant.  Bill is a Davidson College graduate who currently serves on the board of directors for Park Foundation and is the Foundation consultant for the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.

Bill is a proud Nourish supporter since 2009. He is a faithful donor who greatly increases our profile on a number of campuses nationwide through his support, and we are proud to have Bill as part of our Nourish movement. He is truly passionate about higher education and inspiring young people to make a change in the world.

Thank you to Bill and all of our other Nourish donors for supporting Nourish and working tirelessly in making the world a better place!