Through FSD I was able to experience the technological challenges that villagers in Uganda face. FSD did 2 things very well. Firstly, they assigned me to a community that was excited about technology and found me a wonderful host family. Living among the community and working with them to provide useful sustainable businesses could not have happened with my organization alone. Secondly they advised me on how to best approach sustainable development. The keys rules are to ensure that any initiative you and the community spend time building, is one where all the correct incentives line up such that the initiative continues well past your time. This was important advice to ensuring that your time is not wasted on projects that fail. Instead, most FSD projects lead to some tangible benefit for the community because the community is the main driver. The interns learn a great deal and help where they can by offering their knowledge and experience in a very different part of the world. This is a passive but highly effective method of development.
I had the privilege of participating in a short-term internship with FSD in LaPlata, Argentina in 2005. I lived with a family of humble means and worked at a community center for low income citizens. I had grandiose ideas of heading to LaPlata to teach English in a creative and engaging way through the use of drama and speeches. However, when I arrived, I found out that my students were at a very beginning level of English. I had to rework my lesson plans and adjust my goals for what I wanted to accomplish at the school. Rather than function as a teacher, I ended up being more of a program evaluator. I observed how the classes were being taught and suggested ways that instructional sessions could be improved. I shared activities and games that could be incorporated into the curriculum. And thanks to the FSD grant money that I was able to use toward the organization, I provided the school with some very important tools to improve the English program. The resources I supplied had a big impact on the students and the staff at the school. The two young women that taught the English classes had both been university students with a concentration in English Interpretation. Neither of them had ever spoken to a native English speaker. You can imagine they were thrilled to get to practice their English with me! Those two gals became my very dear friends during my time in LaPlata. They invited me into their homes and shared their culture with me. I am still in touch with both of them (Nuria and Fernanda). FSD did a wonderful job of supporting me while I was in LaPlata. They didn’t hold my hand through the process, but I knew that if I needed assistance, I could get support. Another benefit of the program was the friendship I shared with the other FSD interns in LaPlata at the time. We spent time exploring the city together and sharing about our experiences living with host families, blending into the culture, etc. I had a very rich and memorable time living and working in Argentina with FSD. FSD is the ideal solution for those who want to be culturally immersed and educated while sharing their skills/trade to a welcoming international community. FSD meets the need for those who can’t commit to the time requirements of the Peace Corps. FSD has also impressed me by their efforts to connect and support alumni from their program. It’s a very professional, relevant, effective and passionate organization. My internship in LaPlata is one of my fondest life experiences and I hope that I can partner with FSD as an intern again someday.
I was a volunteer with FSD in Bolivia in 2006. The org does a good job connecting 1st World folks with local non-profits in developing countries. They use their resources efficiently. Placement with local non-profits may boost traction with communities.
I was a volunteer with this organization. I worked in Nicaragua. They managed their program very efficiently and effectively. It's a low-cost option for volunteers, but still quite well-run. I would highly recommend this organization.
You won't find a better organized, higher impact, or more challenging internship than that offered by Foundation for Sustainable Development. In 2003, I spent the summer conducting a community diagnostic study at a health clinic near Cochabamba, Bolivia. Working alongside the staff at a local nonprofit agency, we presented our findings to a board of community leaders and representative from the Pan-American Health Organization. I had an opportunity to develop key professional skills while participating in a cultural exchange, both of which have served me well in my career. The global perspective you gain from living in another country is beneficial in any field of work. On a personal level, I formed lifelong friendships with other participants. The staff worked hard to accommodate my needs. My only criticism is that FSD recruits its interns from a very narrow set of prestigious schools, when there are other universities whose students have much to offer the program.
I recently participated in an internship with FSD in India. I was impressed and inspired by the commitment of the FSD staff and other volunteers to really interact with the communities they are working with enabling a meaningful experience for the interns and lasting change within the communities involved. Completing this internship taught me creative approaches to grassroots development work and the experience changed my perspective in many ways. FSD is dedicated to sustainable, environmentally responsible development work and the hard work and success of this foundation should be recognized.
My experience in Argentina was by far one of the best in my life. In La Plata, I volunteered at a drug rehabilitation center. With FSD's constant support, i was able to implement a grant-funded project aimed at preventing substance abuse in the community. To do this, the center and i met with various schools to educate school directors, teachers and students about the issues related to substance abuse. All the schools with whom we met were very excited by our talks; certain schools have asked us to return. Even though i am no longer in Argentina, i have regular email contact with the individuals of the center for which i volunteered. It feels very good to know that i have made a difference in their lives, in addition to the lives of some students. And this effect will continue to grow with every workshop the center gives, which of course is the whole idea behind sustainable development. Another aspect of FSD that i love is that while i had MY particular project, every volunteer was still engaged in general community projects, many with an environmental focus. FSD deserves international recognition and praise for helping so many communities across the world.
Masaka, Uganda Project Title: Improved nutrition and House hold incomes through Integrated Agricultural Production Bulayi village is found on one of the numerous hills in Masaka District. During the dry seasons, the people of Bulayi used to have little to eat as their crops withered and they had no extra to sell in the roadside markets. The soils were hard and cracked due to exposure to intense sunshine yet during the dry season the soils would go with runoff water from this hilly place. An integrated agro training project established by Stephanie Nelson in Bulayi village Masaka has turned around the lives of the communities in Bulayi. The people of this area didn’t know how to preserve their gardens during dry seasons. Stephanie, while working with volunteers carried out trainings on organic farming and taught these communities people how to make use of available resources around their homes. They started off with classes about use of animal waste, human urine and use of a mixture of foliage, which was mixed with water and left to lie for some days. This was later poured on banana plants and fruit trees. The agricultural yields became better. Stephanie also taught the communities about water conservation in the soils during rain seasons. They dug trenches in the gardens and water rested there. A vegetable nursery was then established to provide the communities with seedlings they could plant to improve their own nutritional levels and also get income for their families. Some of the vegetables were; cabbages, eggplant, green pepper. In addition, tree seedlings were purchased and distributed to thirty-seven families. These included coffee, passion fruit, oranges, avocado, and mangoes In return for being provided with seedlings, the group members were taught how to take cuttings from the fruit trees and passion fruit they were given in order to make grafts of those plants. The members provided the grafted seedlings to new members, passing on the inputs and knowledge they received during their training with United for development Initiative, UDEI. I was greatly impressed by the project done by Stephanie with the community members. The difference between those families which worked on this project were visually evident. Their crops looked much better and the yields were also better. Such families had better nutrition and their trips to the local clinic reduced. They also had extra to sell. The money they got out of the vegetables enabled them to buy those necessities like salt, sugar and soap. This project was community focused;, there was community participation and it is sustainable. What is also very impressive is that the innitial funds used were minimal.
I interned with FSD with an orphanage in Kakamega. My experience there was one of the most rewarding in my life. I was able to work on the ground with issues I had spent so much time reading about. Our country director Peter was incredibly knowledgeable and supportive. Through talks with him and our program coordinator, I was able to explore many different projects during my three month stay. As a political science major, I was amazed I was able to start a sewing project and have meetings with people about special needs and agricultural planning. The funding that made my project possible came from an FSD grant. It feels great to be a part of an organization that is doing so much good good in so many sectors and countries.
As an FSD intern in the summer of 2007, I worked with a local organization in western Kenya, called the Kakamega Environmental Education Programme (KEEP). My first week in Kenya was an orientation, led by the FSD Program Coordinators. We learned about the host country and local culture, and were provided with over 20 hours of professional language training, as well as skills like grant writing. I was partnered with a wonderful host family in a village called Isecheno, at the entrance to the southern part of the Kakamega Rainforest (Kenya's last remaining rainforest). For 10 weeks, I worked at KEEP whose mission is to educate the community about conserving the forest resources and provide alternatives to forest exploitation through the facilitation of sustainable income-generating projects. FSD provided me with support, yet encouraged me to take my own initiative as I learned about the work and needs of the organization. I worked with KEEP staff to develop a needs-based survey and subsequent report on local socio-economic conditions and their relationship to use of forest resources. The FSD staff were knowledgeable, encouraging, and supportive before, during, and after my stay. I feel that my work was both meaningful and sustainable, and that FSD's model of forging ongoing relationships with local communities and organizations allows for interns' work to be picked up, continued, and improved upon by the next interns. In fostering strong relationships and building trust, FSD is able to be extremely effective in promoting "sustainable" development and empowering communities to take ownership over these projects.
A great mission with a staff that works extremely hard and truely believes in their cause. They are partners with legitimate organizations in every community they work in. They place interns in work/internship positions where they can fully integrate into the community and get a viewpoint from the local culture.