From December 29th, 2016 to January 9th, 2017, three groups of college students from the University of Idaho traveled to three different developing countries to spend part of their winter break supporting Green Empowerment projects.
The trips were part of the University of Idaho’s Alternative Service Break (ASB) program. The ASB program gives students the opportunity to challenge themselves and develop leadership skills through service across the globe, grounded in social justice issues, including poverty, racism and domestic violence.
The university has partnered with Green Empowerment every year since 2014 to send groups of college students on international service-learning trips to experience new cultures, learn about issues related to social justice and the environment, and provide support to select GE projects.
This year, the university sent groups of students to three different Green Empowerment program countries: Ecuador, Nicaragua, and the Philippines.
Ecuador: Students joined Green Empowerment and its local partners in building on the successful implementation of renewable energy, drinking water, and sanitation technologies in the Esmeraldas and Carchi provinces of northern Ecuador. Participants worked side-by-side with rural farming families, building and installing biogas digesters, improved biomass cookstoves, and potable water & sanitation systems.
Nicaragua: The group helped Green Empowerment and local partner AsoFénix to improve community health and protect the natural environment in the central hills of Nicaragua.
The students traveled into the countryside to the villages of El Bálsamo and El Jazmin to spend a week and a half working with local families and technicians planting gardens, installing solar technologies, and constructing hygiene and sanitation facilities to improve the health, quality of life, and economic opportunities of residents.
Philippines: After arriving in Manila, the group took a short flight to the island of Leyte to spend a week and a half in the small rural community of Marao.
After spending several days immersing themselves in the local culture and celebrating the new year with residents, the students were challenged to design, lead, and facilitate sanitation, hygiene, and environmental conservation learning activities for the school children of Marao Elementary School. The activities complemented the new rainwater harvesting tank and sanitation facilities installed at the school by GE as part of the USAID-funded program “Building Climate Resilience in Water Stressed Communities” (CREST).