The people of Nicaragua face multiple hardships, including poverty, housing deficits, and deforestation. There is a severe affordable housing deficit of 500,000 homes, especially in rural areas. Additionally, 68% of Nicaraguans struggle to survive on approximately US $1 per day. Contributing to this poverty level is the fact that 80% of the rural poor depend on agriculture for their livelihood, despite the land being only marginally productive. Finally, deforestation problems have grown worse, resulting in increased flooding and mudslides, a reduction in carbon sinks, and fertile land loss due to topsoil erosion.
This summer, the Arizona State University and Cornell University Nourish chapters are teaming up with nonprofit CO2Bambu to address these problems through bamboo reforestation. Locals in Rosita, Nicaragua, will be able to harvest the bamboo, which will serve as both a sustainable raw material for affordable housing and a source of income for local farmers. The bamboo will also sequester carbon from the atmosphere, creating topsoil cohesion and preventing erosion.
CO2Bambu is a nonprofit that uses renewable bamboo resources to support post-disaster reconstruction efforts and address housing deficits in Latin America and Haiti. The bamboo is used to assemble ecologically sound shelters, schools, and low-cost housing. Bamboo is a good building material because it has the same technical performance as timber, concrete, and steel constructions, but has a much lower carbon footprint. Because it is lightweight, it does not require the use of large trucks and cranes. Additionally, the natural flexibility of bamboo meets an important requirement for construction in seismic areas.
The project team is currently hard at work in Nicaragua. You can read about their experiences on their blog.
Nourish International is excited to be the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the Park Foundation. This grant will fund the Nourish Fellowship, a program that provides Nourish chapters around the country with an increased level of support from the National Office. We are honored to receive continued support from the Park Foundation, having received an additional 15,000 grant in December 2010.
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.”
Tom Meehan was selected as the first Nourish fellow and started his position on June 20th. With his help, the National Office is increasing the number of hours every week spent providing direct training, mentorship, and support to each chapter. This is part of the National Office’s larger strategy of investing in building the capacity of the Nourish movement.
Many thanks to the Park Foundation—we are excited and honored that they continue to join us in eradicating poverty.
In 2009, an estimated 33.3 million adults and children in the world were living with HIV/AIDS. In Ecuador, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS is currently almost 40,000, according to the World Health Organization. Not only are these numbers staggering, but most of these people do not have access to good HIV treatments.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Nourish chapter, which has multiple projects this summer, has sent seven students to Ecuador to take a stand against HIV. The project partner organization, Juvilus, has connected the group with the Santa Maria de Los Angeles village in San Pablo, Ecuador. There, the project team is working at a Franciscan Village for orphaned children living with HIV/AIDS and assisting with an HIV education and awareness campaign.
The project team is also helping the village expand a cuy-raising business venture. Cuy is a local dish consisting of roasted guinea pig. The village hopes to bring in profits from the cuy farm to fund additional community projects.
The project team is currently hard at work in Ecuador for six weeks. You can read about the relationships they are building with the orphans by reading their blog.
Nourish International is committed to continuing to improve our extensive student leadership curriculum. In keeping with this, the National Office is excited to announce that alumni will be serving as mentors to current student leaders at the Summer Institute for the first time ever.
Alumni will attend Summer Institute workshops alongside students and will be able to provide instant feedback on ideas for ventures, projects, leadership, and more. This presents a unique chance for students to receive advice from past students who have gone through the same challenges they currently face as campus leaders. This also presents an opportunity for alumni to stay connected to and give back to Nourish.
The following alumni will be serving as mentors at the Summer Institute:
- Alex Ahearn: former chapter leader at Duke University
- Logan Couce: former NINO staff member and UNC chapter alumnus
- James Dillard: former NINO staff member and UNC chapter alumnus
- Alison Dorsey: Duke chapter alumnus and Argentina project participant
- Joel Thomas: first executive director of Nourish and UNC chapter alumnus
- Bryon Zandt: former NINO staff member and UNC chapter alumnus
We are excited to welcome these esteemed alumni to the Summer Institute!
Some of the schools in Urubamba, Peru, pose significant safety threats to students. Collapsing walls and roofs would not only disrupt the educational environment, they could also harm students and teachers while they are engaged in learning. Additionally, many of the students’ diets are lacking proper nutrition, making it difficult for them to pay attention and learn to their maximum capacity.
This summer, the University of Texas at Austin and Duke University Nourish chapters are repairing dilapidated infrastructure and improving the educational environment at two schools in Urubamba. School walls and roofs are being rebuilt, and the project team is also creating vegetable gardens to improve the academic experience for students physically and nutritionally.
“In my opinion, providing proper education is the cornerstone to bringing communities out of poverty, for you give people the tools to help themselves,” says project leader John McCreary of UT-Austin.
The project team is partnering with local nonprofit Nexos Voluntarios. NeVo works to support social development in Peru through projects pertaining to public health, education, business, human rights, and the environment. “Because NeVo is located in the same communities that it works to help, it is very well in touch with the needs of these communities,” says McCreary.
The team is already hard at work in Peru and blogging almost daily about their experiences, including details of sight-seeing trips, lessons in high-altitude baking, and heart-touching anecdotes about the children they encounter at the project sites.
At the end of the trip, McCreary will have the opportunity to fly to the Chipaota community in Peru, where he led a project last summer. “I look forward to seeing the fruits of our efforts and the impact we made on the community,” he says.
Carolyn Brown first found out about Nourish through a friend at the University of Michigan. “Nourish was in its first year at Michigan, so it was a great opportunity to get heavily involved as a freshman,” says Carolyn. “Since the group was small, I felt that my voice was heard and appreciated. I had equal say in the daily activities of ventures as well as project planning.”
When Carolyn transferred to Brown University the following year, she knew she wanted to continue working with Nourish. Specifically, she liked that Nourish’s development model is community-based and revolves around local people knowing what works best for them. Carolyn decided to apply to found a Nourish Chapter at Brown.
The biggest obstacle Carolyn encountered as she began her chapter was getting Nourish approved as a student group by the university. That year, Brown changed its policies to prohibit student groups who took money from the Brown community and invested it elsewhere. Carolyn met with several deans and the head of the Student Activities Office to counter this policy. Her perseverance paid off, and she convinced university officials to create a new student group category for service organizations that could raise money on campus but would not receive funding from Brown.
Another setback occurred for Carolyn during her chapter’s first year when their summer project partner chapter folded in the midst of trip preparations. The Brown chapter scrambled to find a new partner at the last minute and ended up having a very successful partnership with Cornell University in El Salvador.
After her first year as the Brown chapter leader, Carolyn also went on to serve as co-international projects director and treasurer.
“Nourish provided me the opportunity to understand what truly motivates me, which is collaborative service and development,” says Carolyn. “I’m pursuing a career in public health, so the fundamental lessons I’ve learned through both developing and implementing Nourish projects will be directly useful as I go on to conduct studies and interventions in the health sector later on.”
Carolyn highly encourages college students to get involved with Nourish International. “Nourish has honestly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career, and the only way to truly benefit from all it has to offer is to totally immerse yourself in the cause and trust in the experience,” she says. “Not every aspect of Nourish’s work is going to be fun or perfect by any means, but if I hadn’t pushed through the challenges, I would not have had the chance to grow and benefit from this amazing organization and all the people involved both here and abroad.”
Carolyn is currently working for the Harvard School of Public Health on a research study in Tanzania, examining the impact of vitamin A supplementation on decreasing neonatal mortality and other health indicators. She hopes to return to work in Boston in the fall and will continue to support the Brown Nourish chapter from there.
The National Office is excited to announce that Houston Spencer, Sarah Bishop, and Ted Gonder will be speaking at the annual Summer Institute this August. Held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this five-day conference for Nourish students includes leadership workshops, mentoring, and hands-on training in addition to the guest speakers.
Houston Spencer was born in the United States and raised in Canada. After obtaining both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he left his academic career in North America to enter the high-tech industry in Australia. He spent five years with McKinsey & Company assisting companies with major upheaval. He then joined Alcatel’s Asia Pacific Headquarters in 2001 and became the director of the global marketing team in 2003. In his current role, Houston leads the team responsible for Alcatel’s activity with key non-customer stakeholders, including industry analysts, strategic partners, and end-users. He is also responsible for Alcatel’s global marketing plan.
Sarah Bishop is the fellowship director at StartingBloc, an organization that trains the next generation of leaders in social innovation practices. She recruits StartingBloc Fellows, designs curriculum, and creates programming so that Fellows can get the resources needed to dramatically increase impact. Prior to joining StartingBloc, Sarah spent two years coordinating countrywide education programs in El Salvador, Jordan, and Peru. She graduated with a B.A. in International Marketing from American University, where she founded and led the gymnastics team.
As the co-founder and director of development for MoneyThink, Ted Gonder develops partnerships with universities around the United States to create student-orchestrated co-curricular financial literary workshops in low-income high schools and communities. He is a rising senior at the University of Chicago and a Boston 2011 StartingBloc Fellow. Gonder is currently interning at the Kauffman Foundation, where he is researching expansion of small business support in the United States.
The National Office is excited to welcome these esteemed speakers to the Summer Institute and is awaiting the arrival of the 40+ student attendees on August 4th.
In rural Cameroon, 50% of the population lives in extreme poverty. Because Cameroonian women cannot own land and are largely uneducated, they have no way of generating income. This poses a major problem for women who have lost their husbands or no longer have other male family members to provide for them.
This summer, the Nourish chapter at the University of Texas at Austin has teamed up with local nonprofit African Roots to empower these women. The project team is planting 5,000 fruit trees and teaching the women to care for them. They are also teaching basic business skills the women can use to sell the fruit for profit.
The fruit trees will not only provide rural Cameroonian women with a source of income, but will also help address the problem of malnutrition that is so widespread in Cameroon. Poor variety in food supply causes many children to lack important nutrients needed for growth. The fruit trees will solve this problem by providing healthy nourishment for Cameroonian families.
The trees will also serve the environment. Deforestation and erosion are major problems in Cameroon, and these trees will help reforest the area, creating fresher air and preventing topsoil from washing away.
African Roots is a sustainable development organization that “empowers poor women and youths with skills and knowledge that enables them to overcome their economic hardship and live a life of self-esteem without the destruction of the environment.” The organization fulfills this mission by working with local CIGs, NGOs, and schools in rural Cameroon.
Members of the project team are currently in the process of planting the fruit trees and are blogging about their experiences here.