My name is Alex and for the past eight months I worked with Aguayuda to help secure clean water, improved sanitation, and education for poor rural communities in Latin America.
I first began volunteering for Aguayuda in February of 2012 by completing small writing assignments via email. Shortly after I began to volunteer, Aguayuda founders Simón and Sabrina invited me to intern with the organization in Easton, Maryland. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but as a recent graduate struggling to find work I was happy to simply get my foot in the proverbial door. Little did I know that this was not just a resume building internship, but instead one of the greatest and most influential experiences of my young life.
After several months of assisting with grant writing, email communications, and program development, Simón and Sabrina extended the opportunity to travel to Colombia, South America to witness firsthand the crisis I had been working to alleviate. I of course jumped at the opportunity.
My five week trip to Colombia was my first time experiencing a developing country. Most of my time was spent traveling to isolated rural communities to visually document the various water and sanitation solutions; everything from an Aguayuda installed windmill in Ramonero, to a manmade pond near Cachaca, which served as a bathtub, washing machine, toilet, and tap. It was an eye-opening and humbling experience to witness firsthand the people, poverty, and problems I was fundraising for back in the US.
As someone who’d like to build a career in the nonprofit sector, I also attained a much clearer understanding of the nature and complexity of development work; most notably the need for community involvement and government support. These two themes were the major areas of focus for Simón and Sabrina in the month that I spent with them in Colombia. I am happy to see them working diligently on two elements that are necessary for creating sustainable change.
What made this internship as great as it was, was not just the experience of traveling to a different country, but it was the experience of working with Simón and Sabrina. Even though I came into this internship as a recent graduate with no relevant work experience, Simón and Sabrina always treated me like a true member of Aguayuda. They presented me with meaningful and challenging tasks, invited and considered my opinions, and always went out of their way to inform me and update me on the latest Aguayuda news. They never made me feel like “just an intern”. For this, and for our friendship, I’d like to thank Simón and Sabrina. Aguayuda has truly grown exponentially in the short time I’ve been here and I wish you guys the best of luck in continuing this growth while pursuing your passion.