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Nourish International Takes Addison County Student To Uganda

photo by provided

photo by provided

photo by provided

photo by provided

Tuesday August 16, 2016

By Cookie Steponaitis

Jared Birchmore has always wanted to work with others on an international scale and as a member of the Syracuse University Chapter of Nourish International it became a reality. Birchmore accepted an internship allowing him to serve, travel and explore career possibilities. “Nourish International is a non-profit that is dedicated to impacting extreme poverty with sustainable solutions,” shared Birchmore. “Its model is very unique. The organization is powered and continuously readjusted by student influence and in the process students become knowledgeable leaders and gain experience in the non-profit world.”
    Partnering with Global Health Network Uganda (GHNU¬) Birchmore left the United States on May 25th and worked in Uganda from May 26th to July 10th. Birchmore was based in Loro, Uganda and was a part of projects focused on child and maternal health which included visiting local health centers and schools teaching basic sanitation practices including hand washing, nutrition and HIV prevention. The group also helped build a facility for a local group called Apit Pe Nino which makes reusable sanitary pads for young girls. “Many girls in Uganda drop out of school after menstruation starts due to the humiliation by classmates and the inability to purchase pads,” explained Birchmore. “Apit Pe Nino aims to increase the enrollment of young girls by selling these pads at a more affordable rate. In addition to that we worked with local business groups that included tailoring, goat raising and piggeries to teach them about group dynamics and how to better their businesses.”
    While Birchmore anticipated the language barrier to be very difficult, he was delighted to find that despite the challenges, they were able to work together and get things done. “Although they knew a little English and I picked up on a few things in Luo which is the local language, we developed some very strong relationships with people in the community. My understanding of the environmental influences on different projects was radically altered. Many of the GHNU staff told our team that we would have to be very patient, because in Uganda time is less of a concern than here in the U.S. and projects are completed more slowly. As we worked alongside the staff and local community, I began to understand that everything has to work at its own pace. Everything is contextual and to achieve truly sustainable change you have to be conscientious of how the community will implement and eventually respond to the project. Despite a slower pace we still achieved several of the objectives we had at the beginning of the partnership including teaching students and adults about health and sanitation, working on business training and group dynamics with local business groups and building a facility for Apit Pe Nino.”
    The lessons of Uganda for Jared Birchmore are far reaching and the trip’s impact is still resonating in his life. “This experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it truly allows you to see firsthand how a real non-profit operates on a daily basis,” commented Birchmore. “GHNU and Nourish International have amazing goals centered on sustainable change and improving the lives of those around the world. This internship allowed me to learn more about the Nourish mission and gave me insights into what a successful organization must do. Individuals who participate in this internship or anything similar to it will not only fall in love with the people that they meet and the places that they see, but they will also learn important skills related to working in and with non-profit organizations around the world.”

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