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Two years ago, UT chapter members traveled to Uganda to help students at an orphanage and school plant a garden so they could have a constant food supply.

Their desire to help combat extreme poverty has led Nourish International members from UT to Uganda and Peru. This summer, it’s taking them to Guatemala.

The group, which left today, will spend six weeks working with the Guatemalan organization Unidas para Vivir Mejor (UPAVIM), which seeks to empower the women of Guatemala through programs including education, employment opportunities, day care, and health care services. The organization’s name translates to “United for Better Living.”

UT’s Nourish chapter is teaming up with the Indiana University chapter for this trip. Seven of the 10 students on the trip are from UT.

Amber Donaldson, president of the UT chapter, said they chose to work with UPAVIM this year because several group members were interested in working in a Spanish-speaking area—but more importantly, they were impressed by the organization’s goals.

“This organization works within an at-risk community to address some of the major issues facing global poverty, such as lack of education and lack of women’s empowerment initiatives, in a very practical, sustainable way,” she said. “Nourish International seeks to help eradicate global poverty through projects that address both of these issues.”

Nourish International was founded at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003 and now has twenty-nine chapters nationwide. UT’s chapter formed three years ago.

The national office pairs chapters based on their needs. Working with Indiana, Donaldson said, will allow the two chapters to pool their resources.

Jennifer Smith, past leader of the UT chapter, works at a Nourish International fundraiser on campus.

Last year, UT Nourish members helped fund community development projects, such as improving water sanitation, in Cerro Blanco, Peru. The year before, they traveled to Uganda to help students at an orphanage and school plant a garden so they could have a constant food supply.

Donaldson said she enjoys the freedom Nourish gives its chapters, allowing them to choose service projects based on members’ interests and encouraging them to find creative ways to raise money.

More than anything, though, working with Nourish gives her a sense of accomplishment.

“As a student, it is easy to feel insignificant when it comes to making measurable changes in the outside world,” she said, “but Nourish gives students an outlet to come together and have a positive impact on the fight to end global poverty and implement projects that have a lasting effect, which is truly amazing.”

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,