High Impact of Virtual Institute 2015
This past Saturday, January 24th, we hosted Virtual Institute 2015! Every January, Nourish International and its Chapters gather together on AnyMeeting.com for this virtual training conference as a collaborative effort to grow the Nourish movement. This year, we were extremely excited to have over 30 of our amazing chapters with 100 student social entrepreneurs attend our daylong development session. (Shout out to our Chapters on the West Coast for getting up at 9 am on a Saturday!)
Every year, Virtual Institute has served as a platform for Chapters across the US and Canada to connect and learn from each other. We tailored our valuable workshops and discussions so that Chapters may build a better understanding of how to further the impact on extreme poverty as student leaders. Students are able to not only inspire but also learn from their peers—Virtual Institute is one of two times in the year, the other being our Summer Institute, in which Nourish is able to participate as one group.
Virtual Institute this year was a huge success! Students loved how they were able to meet with other leaders in the movement and share their passions for sustainable and responsible development projects. Lauren Monahan from Boston College loved “[seeing and] hearing from all the students and being able to connect with them!” Alex Deuley from Pitt affirmed that “connecting with students across the country and hearing that they are going through similar experiences that we are” was one of the best parts of Virtual Institute.
To support Nourish’s high impact virtual programs, like Virtual Institute, you can donate here.
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Just over two weeks ago we started the work week with finishing the bunny cage that tortured our souls (we tried to upload a photo of finished product, but it repeatedly caused the computer to freeze). It was a great way to begin a week full of completing projects. After finalizing the construction at San Bartolome in the morning we taught all three workshops (accounting, empowerment, and herbs) in the afternoon. The next day (Tues., July 22 if you’re following along), we conducted the accounting workshop at Sumpango and we were treated to delicious local cuisine made by the women of the cooperative.
After lunch and a round of good-byes, we transferred back to Guatemala City and surveyed the site at Junkabalito. Over the next two days, we made, sanded, and sealed three tables, tilled ground and planted mother herbs, installed wire mesh inside a structure (note: getting the wire mesh inside the structure was a task in and of itself), and made two planter boxes from recycled pallets.
The weekend greeted us early – with a trip to Maria’s finca south of Mazatenango. For two days, we were hosted by a fabulous family in a fabulous puebla and stayed in an amazing home built by Maria’s grandfather 60 years ago, who styled it with antique Spanish and Moroccan flair. There was a waterfall, a gorgeous pool, coffee production, vermicompost production, bats, and insanely delicious home-cooked food in a grand hall. It was difficult to leave this wonderland, but we headed back to the city.
After conducting all three workshops for the women of Junkabalito on Monday, we had our first inauguration there that afternoon. It was great seeing the women excited about the work we did and eager to ask questions and provide feedback during the workshops.
We traveled back to Antigua that night to conduct our first follow-ups in Sumpango and San Bartolome. On Thursday, we left early in the morning for a major vacation: Semuc Champey and Tikal. There are no words to describe the beauty and awe of these two places. “The pristine, sky-blue natural pools, waterfalls, underwater caves, cliff and bridge jumping, incredible ruins, and magnificent scenery” doesn’t do these places justice. They seem other-worldly.
We’ve been back in Guatemala City now for the last few days. We visited Sumpango and San Bartolome Tuesday to do a final follow-up and answer questions the women had. We were again treated to delicious food, great conversation, and said our tearful good-byes por ahora – as we are all certain we’ll accept their offers to return. During a debriefing session with Byoearth, we all acknowledged how grateful and positive this experience has been. We are excited to see how next year’s team follows up and are anxious to stay in touch with each cooperativa.
As this trip wraps up, we’re bidding our final adieus and taking in all we can of this amazing country. We’re sad to leave and our good-byes are always tearful, but we’re looking forward to seeing our friends and family back home. Expect a reflective post in the coming weeks, and thanks for all your support, encouragement, and positive thoughts throughout.
Adios por ahora.
Wow, what a couple of weeks it has been for the UCSC-UCLA team in Guatemala. In five days, we constructed seven tables from scratch (well we didn’t cut down any trees, but each one of us learned how to use a chainsaw and cut the lumber into the right-size pieces); cut recycled plastic bottles and installed them on the mesh wall so they could be used as planters; weeded an overgrown area, made it arable and planted over 25 mother plants of 11 different varieties; finished the water collection, drainage, and irrigation system and buried the pipes under ground; built two benches from our own design and modified the construction as necessary on the spot; and taught two workshops about growing and maintaining herbs and empowerment for business.
Oh! And we were rattled awake Monday, July 7 by an earthquake (slightly different feeling for us Californians because we’re now surrounded by three volcanoes). Not only that, every day that week one person was feeling down, yet the team pushed through and accomplished all our goals and more.
During the weekend, several of the team members went to Puerto San Jose and had quite an experience taking a camioneta (aka chicken bus) and local shuttle three hours to appreciate black sand, warm waves, ceviche, and pescado frito. The ride home was something none of us will forget, nor will our tailbones. But, hey we got one helluva deal.
This past Monday, the UCLA-UCSC team started working in San Bartolome at a cooperative that not only generates vermicompost, but also raises rabbits to use their excrement in the compost. We love being surrounded by these cute pals and the babies that boost morale. Within three days we cleared our workspace, installed and painted a blackboard, built two tables, hung wire mesh on a ledge, cut and hung plastic bottles on the mesh to be used as planters, planted 14 varieties of mother plants (in an area the women from the cooperative cleared for us – so sweet and so helpful), built two step stools, and began constructing a portioned rabbit cage. Please give us a few weeks before we can talk about the rabbit cage construction process :-/
We took a few days off during the week to travel to Lago de Atitlan with Maria and Lissette from our project partner Byoearth. Lago de Atitlan is an unbelievably gorgeous place and we had a blast there celebrating Ashley Luna’s 21st birthday. Ayyayayaayayayayayay XD.
The team is truly working as an efficient and skilled unit, making each person and those involved with the project more proud each day. We can handle a chainsaw and circular saw like pros and love speaking with the women from the cooperatives and working with them to improve their working conditions. And, we absolutely love hanging out with each other and are really appreciating our time together – bickering, teasing, and laughing with (at?) each other like best friends and siblings.
The UCLA-UCSC team has settled in nicely in Antigua and is enjoying all that this quaint town has to offer, including a fantastic parque central, lovely people, good food, and ice cream. There seems to always be something going on so wandering the streets (safely, of course!) has become a favorite pastime among us. We learned that the mercado in Antigua is the second largest in Guatemala and we understand why – there are many sections that make getting lost within its maze quite easy.
There were some delays with having materials for our project at Sumpango delivered, but that allowed us more time to work closer with the women in the cooperative and discuss what they hope to accomplish through our partnership. We learned about some of the robberies that occurred on the property and started collaborating about ways to improve the security.
Marisa’s dad, William, joined us in Guatemala last week and was a great, invaluable help in obtaining supplies and working on revamping the water collection system at the Sumpango site, as well as installing an irrigation system for the herbs that will be attached to the wire-mesh walls we installed. And, with much attribution to the tools he brought, we were able to quickly and evenly put up a blackboard on a cement wall. Also with his help we ordered lumber for our project and purchased a chainsaw to cut the wood into the necessary-size pieces.
We had to say goodbye to Betty last Tuesday morning, as unexpected happenings in the United States required her to head back home. She is missed daily and we are constantly thinking of her. The night before her departure we were able to spend a wonderful evening together at a local bar where Jeff had secured a DJ gig for the night!
We also went to our next site in San Bartolome last week to see what supplies are there and what supplies we might need. In addition to vermicomposting, the women at the cooperative in San Bartolome raise rabbits so there are cages of adorable bunnies everywhere!
Last week, some of us went to nearby coffee and music museums at Centro Cultural la Azotea via tuk tuk (covered three-wheel motorcycles with a bench for passengers). We learned a lot about the coffee-making process and indigenous music. We also found out that the next day was St. Peter’s Day so any town in Guatemala with San Pedro in its name would be celebrating – lucky for us, San Pedro Las Huertas is a neighboring town so Paul, Anna, and Jeffrey took a camioneta (aka chicken bus) there and ate the local version of fair food and joined the via crucis procession around town. We also experienced a Guatemala BBQ for the Fourth of July, and witnessed how a fan and a fast-moving wrist can bring flame from a near-completely dead fire.
This week we have been working extremely hard finishing up construction at Sumpango. We’ve recycled plastic bottles to serve as plant containers hanging from wire mesh, built seven tables, completed the water storage and drainage system, and finished a garden for mother plants. Stay tuned for pics and construction details coming soon!
On our way to Antigua, we took a side trip to hike volcan Pacaya. Though we intended to start the hike at 3:30 p.m. to see the sunset from the top, we did not get started until 6:30 p.m. Oh Guate time! So, under black skies and pouring rain we began our ascent. For those that were prepared for a sunny hike, plastic bags served as raincoats over shorts and Vans.
When we reached the peak 4 km later, the rain stopped and we found a warm pocket where everyone eagerly jumped in to get warm. Our guide Manuel also took us to steam vents where we could see active lava flowing down the mountain and he pulled out a bag of marshmallows for us to roast. The moment was as spectacular as the view. (Side note: Anna thought the marshmallows tasted different because they were made in Guatemala or because they were cooked with volcanic heat – in reality, they were just flavored. Hahaha) At 1 a.m. we checked into Hostel La Quinta and some immediately jumped into a warm shower while others quickly fell asleep.
On Saturday we worked hard on the workshops we’ll be conducting. Because we’ll be teaching about certain herbs and vegetables, we did a lot of research on planting, maintaining, selling, and cooking with them, as well as their medicinal uses. That night we hit the town to celebrate Marisa’s birthday. Marisa selected Dona Luisa Xicoteneatl for dinner because it was recommended for its pastries and great deals on food. And it certainly delivered – Marisa rang in 23 with delicious German chocolate cake. After dinner we discovered that the bars and clubs in Antigua close at 10:30 p.m. so instead of dancing the night away we went to Monoloco and chatted until it closed.
To close out the weekend, we worked on our workshops on Sunday and toured the town. We found Rainbow Cafe to be a great place for Wi-Fi, food, and live music. At night the team bonded over several rounds of Loteria, during which we practiced Spanish vocabulary, got to know the hostel’s night guard, Don Jose, and saw our partner architect, Alejandro, being interviewed on TV!
Though we were ready and anxious to go to our first site Monday morning, a protest was occurring so we would have had to walk a dangerous 15 km to the site. To err on the side of caution, the project partner canceled the trip and we continued to work on our lesson plans and check out the city. On Tuesday we were excited to finally go to Sumpango. We met three of the women from the cooperative and surveyed the structure we’ll be turning into a greenhouse. We also got to help with the vermicomposting process at the cooperative and see the herbs that the women are already growing.
Now that we have a feel for the property, we’ll return tomorrow to begin construction!
Welcome to our first blog post!
Before we continue our journey to Peru we thought it would be a good idea to share with our friends and family what we are doing in order to prepare for our trip, go over some of our thoughts and expectations overall, and give you all some information about how our blogs will be working throughout our seven weeks in Peru. Our hopes are to have a blog posted once a week throughout the course of our trip. This may not always be possible due to the spotty internet connections in the areas where we will be working but we will try our hardest to keep everyone up to date. We might even be able to post more often than that, we just are not sure about what we will have access to during this time. In addition, some posts may be general/overall updates from the both of us and some will have both Emily and I’s positions on how our trip has gone so far. For example, this post will have both mine and Emily’s take on how preparations are going and what each of us are excited and apprehensive about for our trip.
After graduating and returning home I have been applying to jobs, as well as making sure that I have everything I will need while in Peru. This has been a bit stressful because there are certain items that will be needed that my family and I have to go out and purchase because they are not things you can just find around your house. We have made multiple trips to the store and we still do not have everything I might need. In regards to the trip itself, I am very excited to embark on this journey. I have never done something as grand as this so I am still a bit nervous since I do not know what to expect. I am also very nervous about living with a host family by myself while there. Although I have taken multiple years of spanish lessons, I am still not fluent. This aspect makes me even more scared because I fear I will not be able to communicate adequately with the family. Also, being a shy person does not help either. I have been trying to practice my spanish skills as much as I can in the hopes that I will be a little better. I may be concerned about this aspect of the trip but I know overall this will be an amazing experience and I will have my close friend Emily there with me the entire way to help me through.
Hello all – Emily here! Thank you for following our blog and I hope you have a great time reading throughout this journey Hannah and I are about to embark on (granted we are able to post each week). For those that know me well, I am a planner that enjoys lists, details, and organization, but I know well that going on a trip such as ours cannot be planned to the T. (As I am writing this blog post, I have about ten sheets of paper with different lists surrounding my computer). Finally, this past senior year I began living life more spontaneously, such as a last minute (I mean 20 minutes before we left) trip to Memphis for UD’s Elite 8 game with my best of friends with no game plan. We figured out living situations when we arrived and lived the entire weekend in the present moment. This taught me a lot about how life is spontaneous and we cannot plan life, rather live in the present and enjoy every moment. Additionally, for me, it represented that living each moment of life is something that will never be regretted and life cannot be limited because of our fears and plans. I do not enjoy living life with expectations because you will be disappointed most of the time, so going into this journey I have no expectations, only excitement and a bit of nerves. Hannah and I were just discussing the fact that there are about two weeks left until we leave and it is hitting us that this is actually happening! This journey means the world to me because I am passionate about creating a world that I want to bring future generations into; one full of peace, love, happiness, strength, faith, and a caring humanity. I am blessed to be able to share this journey with Hannah and I cannot wait to see what the two months in Peru has in store for us!
Emily and Hannah
University of Dayton Chapter
Nourish students from our 45 chapters across the country have solidified their partnerships for Summer 2014. We seek to partner with organizations whose missions align with ours to make a lasting impact on extreme global poverty.
Over the next few weeks, we will announce all of our 27 Projects for Summer 2014!
Boston University and Hope College—Uganda Rural Fund
Boston University and Hope College will partner up with the Uganda Rural Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and sustainable development of communities in Uganda. Their goal is to empower impoverished youth and women in Uganda’s rural communities. This Project will help the community to build kindergarten classrooms and teaching classes.
Cal Poly Pomona and Claremont Colleges—Better Family Foundation
Cal Poly and Claremont Colleges will be working with the Better Family Foundation in Fundong, Cameroon. BFF is an apolitical NGO dedicated to empowering families socially and economically with education, counseling, and financial support for local families in need. This Project involves building a water system expansion in their community and conducting public health outreach and education.
University of Wisconsin and University of Kansas—Moche
University of Wisconsin and University of Kansas will be traveling to Ciudad de Dios, Peru to work with Moche. Moche is a non-profit organization invested in improving the standardof living in impoverished communities, promoting research and education, and protecting the archaeological sites in Peru. This Project will build compost latrines and run health fairs in a rural community. This is the 7th year that Nourish International and Moche have partnered together.
Ohio State University –Triple Salto
Ohio State University will be working with Triple Salto in Quito, Ecuador. Triple Salto is a non-profit that works with the government, the private sector, and citizens to create solutions to social, environmental, and economic needs, which guarantees sustainability. This Project involves the construction of greenhouses for a community in Quito. The greenhouses will provide fresh produce for the families, which, in turn combats malnutrition. The excess will also serve as an extra source of income for the families selling it. Nourish and Triple Salto are excited to continue working together in the 6th year of our partnership.
University of Pennsylvannia and Cornell University – Arajuno Road Project
University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University will be working with the Arajuno Road Project. The project will involve teaching at a summer camp, creating community gardens, and repairing school bathrooms. The Arajuno Road Project supports children and their families by providing quality English instruction, improving the infrastructure and environment of their schools, and working on community development and conservation programs in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
You can learn more about all of our 2014 projects in the Giving Challenge.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Acts 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?
In Peru, more than 14 million people lack access to health care. A lack of other basic necessities, such as clean water and proper sanitation, exacerbate this problem by causing illnesses that are difficult to treat. Typhoid fever, hepatitis A, dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever, and leptospirosis are all commonly contracted diseases.
This summer, the Nourish chapters at Ohio State University and Yale University teamed up with nonprofit MOCHE, Inc., to address health care access in Peru. The two project teams traveled to the Moche Valley to construct a health clinic that will provide subsidized and free services to 10,000 poor Peruvians. The clinic will be run by the local community, making it sustainable. Additionally, the project teams hosted health fairs to educate the local people about maternal health, hygiene, and nutrition.
MOCHE, Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the standard of living in impoverished communities, preserving archaeological sites, and promoting research and education on the rich cultural heritage of Peru. To do this, MOCHE forms partnerships with poor Peruvian communities. In exchange for education programs and funding for development projects, the communities agree to protect specific local archaeological sites.
The two project teams have returned from Peru after successfully completing their projects. This was OSU’s second summer working with MOCHE and Yale’s first.