My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Foundation for Sustainable Development, Oakland, CA, USA
Working with FSD, first as an intern in Peru and now as a volunteer coordinator in Nicaragua, has shaped my life greatly, increasing my passion for grassroots development, shaping my views of sustainability, and helping me understand my role within an international community. I have also seen this experience shape the lives of my interns: many of them now study development, are doing development work abroad, and are leading awareness efforts in their own communities; many of them are also returning to their internship country to preserve the meaningful relationships they were able to develop during their time with FSD and help their host organizations push themselves even further. More importantly, however, is that FSD, through its positive and effective approach to development work, has managed to change lives, attitudes, perspectives, and daily realities of the people in the countries it collaborates with. The long-lasting change that has been left behind in these communities as a product of this collaboration can be observed through a diversity of ways. Right now I can think of one particular example in the community of Chaguitillo, Matagalpa (Nicaragua). As a small rural community, Chaguitillo's economy is dependent on agriculture, specifically on coffee production. The community's need for environmental preservation led them to work with two FSD interns for a period of 10 weeks to develop a project that would counter the intense deforestation taking place in the community in large part to sustain the typical wood burning stoves. With the help of FSD interns, Chaguitillo was able to develop coffee shell burning stoves to replace the wood burning ones. Over 150 families now use these new stoves for their daily cooking. The project managed to bring about an increase to the household income of many families (as coffee shells are free and wood was not); it also improved the health conditions of the houses - these new ovens do not produce as much smoke as the wood burning ones; and it was also able to reduce the strong deforestation that resulted from this dependency on wood. Now, FSD's current intern in Chaguitillo is working on using the environmental resources available (mainly related to eco-tourism possibilities) to bring about economic development - leading efforts on reforestation, awareness of natural resources, development of greenhouses, water preservation, and general environmental conservation to maximize the potential of the community to use its resources to bring about its own social and economic development. This project was actually designed by the community itself. This collaboration (and its resulting outcomes) between our interns and the Chaguitillo community, is a prime example of the effectiveness of FSD's approach to sustainable change. With each intern, FSD manages to work with communities to help them get one step closer to their development goals while also encouraging the organizations' independence and self-empowerment.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
seeing the creative and effective projects that result from the collaboration between interns and local organizations. Experiencing that interaction where the interns learn to listen to their host organizations and viceversa and use that communication as the starting ground for their projects is certainly my most rewarding experience thus far. Two minds can think better than one and two cultures can compliment each other to develop strong and meaningful projects that result from thinking out of the box...this is exactly what FSD encourages and it has shaped my experience greatly, teaching me much about sustainable development.
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