783 million people live without clean water. That’s 1 in 9 people, and more than twice the population of the US without access to safe water for consumption. The statistic seems so large and distant that I’m still trying to wrap my head around it after carrying a jerry can around campus for a week last semester to raise awareness for that very statistic, and after three months of an internship here at Solea. Honestly, it’s hard to fight the water crisis when you’re surrounded by rivers and freshwater streams that provide access to clean water every time you turn on your sink. But just because it’s not an obstacle for me doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem. In fact, it makes it an even bigger challenge.
The summer spent here at Techartista, the office where Solea is located, has provided me with so many different opportunities to learn about working in the nonprofit sector. In contrast to last summer when I worked for a regional volunteer organization, the day to day of working for an international charity organization is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It wasn’t uncommon for me to walk into the office and see Rachael already on her second business meeting of the day, talking to local partners in Latin America, and talking about finances, social media, water campaigns, or whatever else the situation called for. Techartista is a co-working environment, and other office members who share the space often pop their heads into our office to ask for advice, lend a hand on a technical problem, and even donate shoes to our fundraising campaign so Solea Water’s office is always full of great ideas and even better people.
While a main focus of my internship is collecting data on and applying for international water grants, one moment at Solea I could be researching funding opportunities for water filtration systems and the next I’m reading about how to incorporate health education into a school district in Belize. Despite still being in college and lacking job experience in the nonprofit field, my age and eagerness to social change have been viewed as a pro here at Solea instead of something that signifies inexperience or ineffectiveness. The learning opportunities at Solea are as diverse as the water projects and the opportunity to add ideas and perspectives to every facet of the organization has left me feeling both deeply connected to the organization and the people we are serving.