Poverty is a hot-button issue in today's world. While poverty exists in the United States, it can be difficult to see poverty out in the larger world if not exposed to it constantly.
Nourish International, a non-profit chapter at UT, was able to help start erasing poverty in a small community in Peru this past summer.
Nourish International started in Chapel Hill, N.C. in 2003 and came to UT in 2010 when five students came together for the purpose of stopping poverty.
The mission of the company is to empower people while engaging in communities to eradicate poverty across the globe.
Chief Operating Officer of Nouish International Allie Treske said that the non-profit focuses more on villages and towns than countries at large.
"We actually don't do it based on a country, but based on community," she said. "We work in some countries where the country could be considered more developed, but the community that we work with has needs for their development."
Across the world, poverty is considered to include those living on less than $2 per day. This past summer, UT was planning a trip to Peru but was unable to go because of a last minute change. They therefore sent $2,000 to a partner in Peru. Moche, an anthropological research organization with a humanitarians focus, builds portable water systems and assists in the formation of a town water committee.
The process in picking out which communities to help is intense. The chapter goes through a rigorous process of doing background checks of companies they are working with in these communities, and ensures that the money is going where it's supposed to be going.
It's the job of the project leader to do a great amount of research to find organizations that they can partner with that will both effectively serve the interests of students and the needs of the community.
"The UT chapter went through the process that all our chapters go through, which is an intensive international development curriculum that helps them decide which communities they would have the most impact in based on their skills and their finances," Treske said. "The UT chapter looks at the skills and interests of students at large and saw they had Spanish teachers and those interested in public health and they went to try and find projects and organizations that were interested in that type of work where they could have the highest impact and so that's when they decided to partner with Moche in Peru."
Recent graduate Jennifer Smith was on the original team that helped Nourish International to become a chapter at UT.
The chapter started in 2010 with Aaron Groh as the founder. Smith and five others got together and helped formulate the team to launch it.
Smith said that throughout the year, individuals in the chapter run small business ventures around the local campus and communities that go toward helping the development projects abroad over the summer.
One of the reasons they're able to do this effectively is because of the motivation they get from knowing that it's all student run, and if they don't come up with the money, they can't help stop poverty.
Smith said it started out slow because they weren't sure what they were doing, but it has picked up.
"How the chapters get started is people apply to found them and the national office will give you $500 to start up and you can use that money however you want to do your ventures," Smith said. "The first year we did not really know what we were doing at all, and so we tried doing a couple different ventures around but it usually ended up trying to sell pancakes at the library. The ventures weren't very successful but we managed to make enough to send $1500 to Uganda and send four people to help start the vegetable garden over there."
The chapter chose communities in Peru because of the ability of the students to speak Spanish and their desire to work with water sanitation and similar issues.
"In the beginning we thought we were going down there to work with the water filtration system, and during the year while we were planning it, the community actually managed to fix the water filtration system on their own, and they contacted us and said they had several projects that they wanted us to work on and they thought the ones they needed most were latrines," Smith said.
The houses in the community don't have their own latrines, and so the team sent the money to Moche with expectations that they would start building latrines in the city.
Last year, Smith was one of the four students that went to Uganda. Her experience there has changed her life.
She works with Grassroots Uganda, a company, separate from Nourish International, she met while she was in Uganda which she decided to pursue and has been working with them since, and will continue to work with them in the future.