As the sun rises higher over Bello Horizonte, a rural Peruvian village surrounded by the foothills of the Andes mountains, 19-year-old Kyle Forrester digs his shovel deep into the ground for what feels like the millionth time. A fellow project member reminds him,
By digging these trenches, we are literally saving babies' lives. It's that simple.
Forrester is an Ohio State University student currently on a development project through Nourish International, a nonprofit organization that connects students with communities abroad to eradicate poverty. He and fellow students have partnered with Moche, Inc., a Peruvian nonprofit that seeks to raise the standard of living in impoverished countries. The project team is constructing a health clinic that will offer free or subsidized services to 10,000 Peruvians living in poverty.
"Watching the walls of the clinic come up day by day has been really rewarding, especially because the bricks and cement were a direct result of our fundraising efforts all year," says Forrester. The team is also working with Moche to put on health fairs in local communities and to teach children about nutrition and hygiene in the local schools.
Nourish International supports student chapters at 24 universities around the country as they run small businesses and invest their earnings in sustainable development projects abroad. Over the summer, students travel to assist community partners in the implementation of these projects. "Nourish makes an impact in two ways," says Nourish's Executive Director Ryan Richards. "First is through our projects, where we invest in long-term, community-based solutions to poverty. Second is through our students, whom we equip with the entrepreneurship, leadership, and cross-cultural skills they need to become lifelong agents of social change."
One such empowered student is Nico Mata, former Chapter Leader at Ohio State University. "Nourish has been instrumental in my life in so many ways," Nico states. "It has given me exceptional leadership skills to provide services to those who need it. Now that I know more about development and poverty, I have a greater sense of purpose and a mission to serve." This summer, 83 Nourish students are working abroad on over a dozen development projects ranging from women's empowerment in Cameroon to bamboo reforestation in Nicaragua.
Nourish seeks to instill a healthy dose of humility in its student leaders. "We see an urgent need for a globally minded generation of young people powerfully and responsibly addressing the challenges that face our planet and our species," says Richards. "At the same time, we believe that the best solutions to poverty come from within impoverished communities themselves." Therefore, Nourish uses an approach to development that focuses on supporting the agenda of the communities with whom the organization partners as opposed to presuming that it knows best. Richards continues that "Nourish's partners know their communities' needs better than we do and how to best meet those needs. Our job is simply to listen deeply and offer our support in the form of capital, technical expertise, and open hearts."
Founded at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2003, Nourish has sent $212,280 and 281 students abroad, working with community partners on 45 projects around the world. Visit www.nourish.org to learn more about how to get involved in Nourish's work to addressing global poverty by engaging students and empowering communities.