I was given the opportunity this summer to intern with Thrive Networks in their Vientiane office in Laos. The goal of our project was to provide water services to the people living in Xayaburi in Western Laos. We traveled throughout the province speaking with local officials and documenting the people living within the area. My job was to interview farmers in rural villages who were selected to receive clean, piped water, asking them questions about their daily lives. The experience was fulfilling and authentic, and unlike anything I had ever seen before. Living in the United States, access to clean water, and other utilities is something we all take for granted, but in Laos water access is not universal. However, access to electricity among the population is nearly 90% within the country, and it seemed strange that a place without water was completely electrified. The power lines hanging from house to house made me almost forget that these villages still lacked running water.
I am a junior at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Originally from the Bay Area, I returned home this summer and have spent the past few months interning with CEO Lynn Foden at the Thrive Networks office in Oakland, CA. Thrive initially caught my interest because of its focus on Southeast Asia; having visited Cambodia in the past, I’ve been hoping to develop a deeper understanding of the region for quite some time. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an intern because I was able to be hands-on with donor engagement and communications while also learning about the day-to-day functions of a small international NGO. What more can an international relations major ask for!?
One of the most exciting projects I’ve contributed to this summer is our “Give a Pho” fundraising campaign which is expected to kickoff this October. Thrive will be teaming up with social media influencers and local restaurants to raise money for our ongoing projects in Southeast Asia. Participating restaurants will give customers the option to “give a pho,” or donate the equivalent of a bowl of pho (around $8-10) directly to Thrive. Beyond raising money, this campaign will be a great way to interact with our local community for a good cause. Keep an eye out for updates over the next several weeks and if you would like to be more directly involved, feel free to reach out!
At the heart of our programs are strong partnerships with government, private sector, civil society groups, and local communities. We also implement learning and feedback strategies to strengthen our approaches to promoting gender and socially inclusive WASH practices in our partner communities.