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Nourish International

It’s the Season of Thankfulness!

November 15, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Alumni Spotlight, Chapter, Chapter Founders, Nourish Office, Student Spotlight, Ventures | By

Last month, we learned how scary poverty can be. We learned how a terrible natural disaster can have devastating effects on impoverished areas across the world. However, we are proud of the entire Nourish community and all that we’ve done, and continue to do, to uplift  communities living in poverty. It is the season of thankfulness and we would like to dedicate these next few posts to those in the Nourish community whom we are truly thankful for.

To our students— You go above and beyond everyday and dedicate your time to the Nourish mission and for that, we thank you.

To our International partners— Your connection to the community gives us the insight into all that we can do to help. We are thankful for your constant dedication and encouragement with our projects.

To our Board of Directors— Your wisdom, experience, and commitment gives us the support we need in order to fulfill our goals. For that, we thank you.

To our Dedicated Friends and Supporters— You give advice, donations, volunteer, and find any way to get involved to help nourish thrive, and for that we thank you.

In our world today 1.29 billion people live on less than $1.25, 884 million people lack access to clean water, 925 million people are malnourished, and 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. We are thankful for your help as we work to improve these statistics and create the possibility of a better world.

Give the Gift of Nourish

November 12, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Nourish Office, Office Updates, Uncategorized | By

Give the Gift of Nourish Send a holiday honor card to your loved ones, clients, and friends during this holiday season!

Your Donation can give the perfect gift to someone on your holiday gift list and equip student leaders with the tools to impact a community living in extreme poverty!

$10 per card or Buy 25 cards get 3 free!

Order online through our donation portal and putting in the memo line: honor cards. Or by contacting Kelly Phoenix at [email protected]

Send us your holiday list, and we will hand address your cards! Honor cards notify the recipient that you have made a gift in their honor this holiday season and made a positive impact on communities living on less than $1.25/ day and student entrepreneurs. Have your company make a holiday contribution of $500 or more and will handle your client gifts in house!

About Nourish International

Nourish International engages students and empowers communities to make lasting impact on extreme poverty. We envision Nourish as a global network through which students make a sustainable impact on extreme poverty and create opportunities for change. We envision a world in which all people are able to meet their basic human needs. Since 2003, we have expanded to 28 countries and 45 college campuses invested over $350,000 in community based sustainable development projects. Over 600 students are currently in the Network and this year alone their social ventures will enable 20 communities to lift themselve

What Are You Most Thankful For?

November 8, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Kenya, Nourish Office | By

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, this is a time of year where people often talk about the things that they are thankful for. Everyone knows the experience well, you might say to a friend, “man, I’m really thankful that” and you can fill in the blank. Maybe you sit around a table on Thanksgiving eating with your family and take turns telling everyone what you are thankful for this year. Also, familiar to most of us, is the experience of an event that causes us to realize just how thankful we are, or should be for the comforts of home and America. Nothing, in my opinion, will bring about such thoughts than a trip to a developing nation, a trip that I have had the opportunity to make on many occasions.

Travelling in the developing world is often the antithesis of everything we know here in America. Things rarely run smoothly or efficiently, as we would describe things in the United States, little consideration is given to time, and the material needs of large amounts of the population in developing countries go unmet everyday. Many people who experience this will come back “changed”. They may not waste food, they will give more, and they won’t care so much that they drive a Ford Explorer, not a Range Rover. However, I believe if you travel to a developing country and really engage with the people you meet, you will be radically changed, even beyond the things we have come to expect. Last summer, I sat in the middle of a field beside the pick-up truck I rode to a displacement camp in the middle of the Rift Valley in Kenya. There I spoke with two men who by all of our American and Western standards had literally nothing. My friend Haran sat in the same pair of pants he wears every day, a red Nike windbreaker he picked up somewhere along the way, and a Wake Forest hat that my friend Joe lent him to work on the farm. Haran lives on little more than two dollars a day, lives in a mud-hut, and has to provide for three children on his and his wife’s meager salaries. Haran doesn’t have a TV, no deep fryer to make a Turkey for Thanksgiving, and by all accounts is one of the poorest of the poor in the world. But in all that poverty and hardship (Haran’s house was burned to the ground in post-election violence in 2008), Haran sat there with me that day in the grass full of joy, full of life, and full of dignity, even while in absolute poverty.

For Haran it is the simple things. He has a job while over 40% of Kenya does not. He has a roof over his head and a loving family. For Haran, that is all he needs to have the joy that those chasing the American dream often lack. Would Haran love to have financial wealth? An easier life? Absolutely. But Haran understood that the lack of those things couldn’t take his joy and dignity.

As I drove away from Haran’s village that evening I remember thinking to myself, I am thankful for Haran, and his joy. My next interaction with Haran would take place through my friends in Kenya who were able to be by his side in the hospital where he lay recovering from a traffic accident that claimed the lives of several of his co-passengers. Haran lay there broken, yet the joy never left.

So this Thanksgiving I am thankful for Haran. For people like him who have taught me that there is more to life than any material possession I own. I am thankful for the opportunity to know and serve individuals like him in developing countries, and thankful that I get to come to work tomorrow and continue to work towards a world where people like Haran can have joy without the poverty.

-Will Curtis, Nourish International National Office

Poverty is Scary

October 25, 2013 | Posted in 2013, India, Summer Projects, UT Austin | By

In our world today 1.29 billion people live on less than $1.25, 884 million people lack access to clean water, 925 million people are malnourished, and about 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. It is true, global poverty is scary.

A coconut seller sits in front of his destroyed shop in the town of Gopalpur (

Saturday, October 12, one of the largest cyclones to hit India’s eastern coast travelled through the Odisha state. Fallen trees, overturned cars, and debris littered the streets. Roofs were torn off of houses, windows were crashed in, and over 500,000 people were evacuated from this region. The evacuees are being housed in 250 emergency shelters set up in sturdy buildings.

Now, the largest battle will be rebuilding all the homes destroyed during the storm. Power and communication lines were cut, kutcha houses made of flimsy material were shattered, and there was extensive flooding throughout the affected areas. This is disconcerting because although the poverty rates recently declined, Odisha is still ranked above the national average in India with a poverty rate of 57.2%. The fear is that the storm may send this area back into a state of economic depression.

An Indian child searches for her belongings in the remains of her house (

Although global poverty is scary and frightening, there are many people who are dedicated to helping those in need. Nourish International was founded with this type of inspiration over 10 years ago.

Today, Nourish’s University of Texas chapter is working with their partners in India to provide support for the communities affected. The UT Chapter worked with Divya Jyoti Mahila Vikash (DJMV) in Odisha. For the past two summers, Nourish students have been teaching English and computer literacy. That teaching in turn inspired their students to create social initiatives. One campaign was to teach the women how to write their names. They also put on a performance in the town center in which students acted out elements of social responsibility. However, the most important aspect about their partnership with Odisha is the strong friendships they made within the community. After this storm, all of the friends of the UT chapter are safe and can stay in their homes, but there are some in Odisha that were not as lucky.

Nourish Blog Pic 3

Nourish, University of Texas Chapter

Please contact Becca Holt ([email protected]) if you would like to contribute to our efforts here at Nourish to uplift the areas that were negatively affected by this natural disaster.


Recent Attack in Kenya poses the question to the Nourish Network: Is terrorism is a form of poverty?

September 26, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Kenya, Nourish in the News, Nourish Office, Summer Projects, UMN, Uncategorized | By

Kenya boysActs of terrorism continue to wreak havoc around the world and the recent international terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya hits close to home for Nourish International as we mourn for our partners and communities abroad that have suffered from the evil of others.

Africa remains the world’s poorest continent, with over 40% of sub-Saharan Africans living in extreme poverty. In the past 10 years, however, Kenya has become one of Africa’s most developed nations, an entrepreneurial hub for east Africa. Nourish has worked there for two years partnering with organizations on the ground working in sustainable agriculture, HIV/ AIDS prevention, tree reforestation, and educational outreach. We have built greenhouses and hospitals, planted tree forests, and run outreach workshops alongside communities in Kenya.

The Nourish International Movement, founded in 2003, is built upon the tenets of empowerment, social and economic justice, community- led partnership, and systemic and sustainable solutions for communities living in extreme poverty. We engage students to participate in creating a more just world.

Theo Klimek, a Nourish Chapter Leader at the University of Minnesota Chapter spent five weeks this summer working alongside Organic Health Response in Kenya. Theo reflects on the attack this week in frustration and concern with the following: “Our Nourish team was in Kenya for five weeks and in that short window I fell in love with the heart of the Kenyan people and their goodwill. Being from Minneapolis, I’ve had a chance to sit in on some community discussions concerning Somalia, its emerging government, its relationship with Kenya, and its troubles with Al-Shabab. Putting the two together, it has been deeply frustrating watching this week’s events unfold. Kenya’s role as a friend to the young Somali government and its military investment in peace and humanitarian aid in southern Somalia are both great examples of the good heart of its people. The tragedy within the tragedy is that their goodwill is being combated with death and terror. It’s quite possible that members of the Minnesota-Somali community were involved in this attack (Somali leaders here have publicly condemned this act of terror). And although this fact is making national news, I’m glad to know that there were many more Minnesotans in Kenya this year working alongside the Kenyan people, whose names won’t make headlines, but whose actions were for good, rather than destruction.”

Poverty manifests itself in many forms, and the most common understanding is economic or absolute poverty. This would include the statistic we all know too well… that one in six people (roughly one billion!) in the world live on less than a $1.25 per day.

Economic poverty is just one representation of poverty. In fact, extreme poverty is more than the lack of material resources necessary to meet an individual’s basic needs. One critical component of the extreme poverty is when an individual lacks the opportunity to make meaningful choices that will sustainably improve his or her life. Like poverty, terrorism is a global threat that kills, prevents growth, starves, and frightens all people striving for a meaningful life and improved living conditions.

Nourish International’s network fights the disempowerment of all people and trains leaders in their efforts to alleviate and end poverty in whatever form it takes.
Acts of terrorism remind us at Nourish International why our mission to engage students and empower communities is vital to creating lasting change and developing a more economically and socially just world. Our resolve to impact those in poverty, whether it’s through hunger alleviation, disease prevention, access to education or economic opportunity has only increased this week while watching our partners in Kenya and communities in need, face the terror associated with the recent attacks.

In light of the recent events, we pose the following question to the Nourish Network in reflecting on this week’s event, Is poverty a form of terrorism?

What did we accomplish?

September 26, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Guatemala, Summer Projects, UCLA | By

Jessica, Alba, Anthea, Pavit, and Dylan were removed from their chaotic college lives for six weeks and given the extraordinary opportunity to live amongst the hardworking and generous individuals of Enactus UVG.  These students made it their mission to demonstrate to us that through determination and proper education, we have the power to simultaneously eradicate poverty and practice sustainability.  After nearly two months of having completed our project, one question remains lingering in our minds: “What did we accomplish?”

In answering this question, it is important to reflect on who we are as individuals versus who the people are we aimed to help.  Each of us has the fortune of waking up in a house to electricity, a warm shower, and a refrigerator full of food.  Additionally, we are pursuing educations that precede a world of opportunities.  Contrarily, many of the children of Santa Catarina and Santa Fe are forced to care for their younger siblings and face the ongoing temptation to turn to a criminal lifestyle to help their families survive.  The people of Tzunana and Chuitzunchaj live on less than one dollar per day and have a scarcely limited access to clean water.  Most importantly, 75% of Guatemalans live below the poverty line.

With confidence, we can assert that our efforts made a lasting impact on the people we helped.  We served as positive role models with environmental consciousness to the intercity children and influenced them to pursue their educations.  We also provided abused women with companionship and taught them how to earn income through embroidery.  We helped the rural communities grow moringa, which will both nourish them and provide them with revenue, while creating a product to meet the demand of Americans. Our team helped build physically sound houses in an agricultural community prone to floods.

Throughout our six weeks in Guatemala, the students of Enactus UVG served as our hosts, teachers, translators, coworkers, and most importantly, friends.  Words cannot adequately thank their organization enough, as we are eternally grateful for having been blessed with this experience.

Bridge Scholar finds passion with a hammer in one hand and her heart in the other

September 20, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Cornell, Nourish Office, Student Spotlight, Summer Projects, UPenn | By

Meet Christina Gutierrez, Nourish student from Cornell University and 2013 Bridge Scholar recipient, an amazing leader who fully embodies the values and mission of Nourish International.  Christina tells it best!

My name is Christina Gutierrez, a sophomore at Cornell University studying History with minors in Latin American studies and Inequality studies and I love to travel and combine my love for  cultures with my passion for international development.

We asked Christina, “Why Nourish”?

I became involved in Nourish almost immediately upon my arrival at Cornell because I thought that the goals and values behind Nourish International fit very closely to my own. I became a SAB (Student Advisory Board) student representative during my freshman year and now am the IP (International Projects) director for my chapter.

Finding an organization that truly empowers students to make meaningful changes in the world is just amazing. I have always had a passion for helping others and would really like to travel the world, meshing these two desires together seemed difficult until I found Nourish. Nourish makes me feel as if I have the ability to change the world; right now, as a student.

What project did you go on this past summer and why did you decide to participate?

I went on the Cornell-UPenn project in Managua, Nicaragua to partner with a grassroots non-profit ATRAVES. We worked in the small barrio of Camilo Ortega specifically within Barrio San William Galeano. Our project had three tiers; computer literacy, agriculture and health. I loved the project and really wanted to participate. I would not have been able to participate due to lack of travel funds this summer had it not been for the generosity and faith that NINO (Nourish International National Office)had in me. I was awarded a Bridge Scholarship, a competitive scholarship program that Nourish National Office offers to students wanting to volunteer abroad.

What did your project team achieve?

We taught dozens of classes in Nutrition, Environmental Education, Computer Literacy, Health and Sex Education. We planted hundreds of seedlings and created three new garden beds. The health group saw dozens of patients. We also collectively helped to complete the first ever electrical system in Camilo in the health center.

 What did you learn from this experience ?

This experience  helped me find my passion. I can make an impact doing what I love to do. It was an amazing feeling working and living in the community and I cannot wait to do it all over again, hopefully for the rest of my life!

I also learned how to chisel into a concrete wall with a hammer and pike, how to plant effectively, how to hoe and clear idle land, how to climb a volcano, how to bucket flush, how to dig huge holes, how to wash clothes on a pila, how to bargain with everyone, and how to enjoy all the little things.

What I learned from this trip cannot be measured, but I hope I will carry it with me forever and use my experiences to help me fulfill my dreams.

How do you hope your involvement in the Project will impact the area?

I hope that the electrical system we helped install will carry the Casa de Salud on its way to becoming a state recognized health clinic. I hope (most) of the seedlings we planted will survive and help provide more fresh produce to the community. I hope that the areas we cleared will be used to grow necessary plants and food for members of the community. I hope that the mosaics we helped the children make will make them feel as if the nursery is their’s as well. I hope the students took away a lot of valuable information from the lessons we taught; that they remember how to use Google docs, to type with both hands, that avocado is a fruit not a vegetable, that soil erosion can be treated with less deforestation, and that they are just kids. Most of all, I hope that they remember me and the whole team with a smile.

Final Thoughts (Dominican Republic Project)

September 17, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Dominican Republic, Summer Projects, UF | By

Although it has been a couple of months since our return from the rural village of El Llano, it seems like just yesterday we were riding

2013-05-18 11.20.26 HDR

Sabrozzi’s grand opening

down to the city via guagua to gather materials for the bakery business. Reflecting upon our project, we can really see the progress made.

To help the community, we focused our efforts on two different projects, the computer literacy

classes and the bakery business.

Before our arrival, the bakery business was merely an idea shared by some of the young women in the village. None of the girls knew how to bake, let alone carry out a successful small business. Through our business coaching and with a couple of baking lessons, Sabrozzi took off. They catered for the preschool graduation, and after we left, for the student center’s summer class lunches.

We also taught computer literacy classes and focused on teaching our students the uses of Microsoft Office including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. In their final assignment, our students were able to apply their skills by constructing a professional resume. The computer literacy classes also aided the bakery business. They are now able to calculate their budget and profits through the use of spreadsheets.

We have kept in touch with some of the bakery’s members. Despite a decrease in its employees, Sabrozzi is still going strong. The people who really want to make the business successful are doing so and carrying out their vision.


As they say in a song that became our Domincan Anthem, “Yo no se ingles pero te digo bye

Jackie and Alexis

The bakers

The Sabrozzi Bakers


Literacy Rate on the Rise in India

September 13, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Nourish Office, Summer Projects | By

This week we are continuing to focus on Nourish Projects and their impact around the globe.  Our impact is amazing, but we are not the only ones!  Thousands of other people and institutions are working hard towards the same goal.

A recent article surfaced in the news announcing that India’s government plans to finalize a program to spread digital literacy across the country by the end of this month.  Input has been received from industries, NGOs, and related third parties to create a plan for this expansion to at least one individual in every family by 2020.

The hope is to reach every household, and then the knowledge and skills learned will be shared to subsequent family members.  Increase in computer knowledge is also expected to stimulate an increase in literacy rates across the country.

The current computer literacy rate is just above 6%, yet the learning curve is exponential for young minds, and the potential positive effects of this program seem infinite.   In the end, the benefits are astounding.  IT literacy opens corridors to a better education and larger job markets and higher wages.  In addition, it bridges the international digital divide, a crucial step in eradicating poverty around the globe.

Nourish International Chapters have already made a huge impact on computer literacy in India and around the globe.  This past summer the University of Texas ( partnered with DJMV ( in Berhampur, India.  While on this project, the student interns provided computer literacy, English, and vocational skills classes.  The team also worked to equip the community learning center with much needed computers and books.  Their immediate impact may seem concentrated, yet the effect is huge through social learning, as information is shared with siblings, parents, community members, and business partners around the country.  Dhanya, from the UT Chapter, puts it best: “But, at the end of every day, I’m reminded of how strong the people of this community are and how they themselves can start movements, change mindsets and develop their villages…I’m thrilled to see what is going to happen in this community and how the kids we are teaching are going to help mold and shape it into something even more beautiful than it is now. That’s empowerment. That is what makes it worth every single moment here.”

Progress has been made in recent years, however, with the advent of new policies this month and a high government willingness to expand IT programs, the future looks bright for the citizens of India.  With the computer literacy rate so low, it will take a huge effort from non-profit organizations like Nourish International, the government, and private industries, but goals are being set as we speak and it will be an exciting journey for the country.

People Behind the Projects: Organic Health Response

September 6, 2013 | Posted in 2013, Kenya, Nourish Office, Summer Projects, UMN | By

This past summer, Nourish International had a tremendous impact on poverty, implementing 19 different Projects in 12 countries around the globe.  We could not be more excited about the success these Projects had over the past three months! 

For the month of September, we will be highlighting the amazing people behind the Projects.  It was a difficult task to select these outstanding individuals and groups. All of the student interns, Chapter leaders, and community partners have completed amazing work!

To start off the month, we would like to dedicate this blog post to Organic Health Response, an incredible organization that supports an ecosystem of diverse community health and environmental initiatives on Mfangano Island in Kenya.  Many challenges exist on the island that prevent healthy and environmentally sustainable living practices, such as high HIV prevalence in remote communities, high deforestation rates, and decreased biodiversity due to overfishing.

However, despite these challenges, the Mfangano Island is rich in fresh water, fertile soil, remarkable wildlife, and a tremendous group of motivated and inspiring community activists.  These activists believe that the unique community can thrive in the future, and dream of pulling the island out from the depths of poverty and disease to create an area of equal prosperity for all.  These activists are the people behind Organic Health Response.  And they are the people behind the Nourish International Project on the island.

This past summer, the University of Minnesota Nourish Chapter sent a group of students to the island to provide resources that aid this group in creating a lasting change through community rooted partnerships and initiatives.  They developed long-term nutrition and reforestation initiatives in the community that benefited and will continue to positively impact the health, social and economic well-being of the community.  The programs were initiated and designed by the Mfangano Island residents and then aided in the implementation and resource provision process by the Minnesota student interns.

These people are motivated, inspiring individuals who look towards a better tomorrow and actively work to eradicate poverty in the region.  The Organic Health Response activists provide HIV testing and counseling, lessons on sustainable farming practices, and technology initiatives.   Over 500 community members have graduated from the informative health program, 2000 members have joined the computer and internet literacy initiative, and 2,434 members have been tested and treated for HIV thus far.  Organic Health Response believes in the fundamental values of human strength and harmonious relationships with others and the environment, and strives to create a world where these values continue to reign in future generations.

The vision of Organic Health Response is huge, and their love, enthusiasm, and community driven motivation and dedication to create a better future for the island continues to grow with every seed planted, health lesson taught, and infant death prevented.  They have completed incredible things and the future looks bright for this organization and their impact on poverty on the Mfangano Island.