Summer Interns Support Aguayuda’s Mission to Improve Health in Latin America

Aguayuda, an Easton-based nonprofit public charity dedicated to improving life and health in poor rural communities in developing countries in Latin America, furthers its mission through the grassroots help of local partners, volunteers, and interns. This summer, Aguayuda has four interns working with them; Joe Saunders, Melanie Koch, and Nicola Green are all local interns, and Alex Esposito is from Madison, Virginia.

Alex Esposito began volunteering with Aguayuda via internet in February of this year. In May, he was invited to Easton to intern with the organization as a grant writer. Alex graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a concentration in civil and human rights. He is interested in a career in the nonprofit sector and is using his invaluable experience at Aguayuda to shape his still-evolving career path.

Joe Saunders is a recent graduate of Salisbury University and a resident of Secretary, MD. Joe graduated from Salisbury with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and a minor in business. He began volunteering with Aguayuda in June and his main task is to create a business plan for the organization.

Melanie Koch and Nicola Green are residents of Easton, MD and also began interning with the organization in June. Melanie is majoring in public health and environmental studies at Tulane University in New Orleans. She plans to use her internship experience at Aguayuda to launch a career in the nonprofit sector. Nicola is majoring in psychology at Goucher College in Towson, MD. As a devout Quaker, Nicola is using her internship as an opportunity to pursue her general interest in humanitarian efforts. Both girls are rising juniors and are helping Aguayuda with fundraising, outreach, and event planning.

These four interns provide critical support to Aguayuda to help build healthy communities in which children are able to spend more time in school and adults have more time to work, as well as participate as productive members of the community.

This year, Aguayuda has also expanded its operational capacity by developing a permanent presence in Colombia. In addition to acquiring legal non-profit status in Colombia (Fundación Aguayuda), Aguayuda has also assembled a team of four Colombians. The presence of an on-site team allows them to better monitor and evaluate the projects they implement. In a sector where 50% of all water and sanitation projects fail, Aguayuda sets itself apart from other WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene education) organizations by focusing on sustainability. Aguayuda’s involvement of community residents in project planning and implementation helps to build strong relationships with the indigenous communities they typically serve. Thus far, 100% of Aguayuda’s projects have been sustainable and are still providing clean water.

Aguayuda’s strategy to improve health, education, and overall quality of life, as well as to alleviate poverty, is exemplified in their name: Agua, Spanish for “water”, and Ayuda, Spanish for “help”. In just their 6th year of operation, established by the Zimmer family in 2006, Aguayuda has grown exponentially to become an international organization with influence in the U.S., Germany, Colombia, and Costa Rica. Their diverse team has experience in areas such as environmental management, chemical and electrical engineering, windmill installation, education, and business. Aguayuda is already providing clean water to over 4,300 people in 14 communities in Colombia and Costa Rica.

Aguayuda welcomes interns and volunteers on a regular basis. If you are interested in contributing to the organization, or would like general information, please visit www.aguayuda.org or contact President Sabrina Zimmermann at szimmermann@aguayuda.org.

In photo: Pictured left to right are Aguayuda’s interns: Nicola Green, Joe Saunders, Melanie Koch and Alex Esposito.

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