In January, 143 New York University students and deans built 262 cleaner burning stoves, treated 800 patients, built three lavatories at schools, and planted 6,000 trees over 10 days in the cities of Cusco and Urubamba, Peru. The cohort included undergraduate students and deans from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholars; and members of NYU administration. Working with ProPeru Service Corps, a not for profit development agency, the group worked 9-hour days to complete development projects alongside Andean community members; many of the students stayed with host families in Cusco, the seat of Incan heritage.
“I’m proud of Steinhardt students’ commitment to global public service,” said Mary Brabeck, dean of NYU Steinhardt. “Their dedication to improving the lives of those in the developing world speaks to Steinhardt’s mission to prepare students to lead in an ever-changing world.”
The Peru project was the biggest, most extensive international service trip Steinhardt has organized, said Lindsay Wright, assistant dean for planning and communication at NYU Steinhardt. “The decision to spend a week engaged in international development work evolved from discussions with the students themselves,” she said. “Seeing firsthand how individuals become change agents, within the context of a developing country, was an invaluable lesson for them.”
Students installed cleaner burning stoves in homes where families traditionally cook over an open fire without a chimney. The families inhale a dangerous amount of smoke, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the developing world. The stove funnels the smoke out of the home and reduces the amount of wood burned by 20 to 50%, improving lung and eye health and conserving trees.
Students also traveled to communities to give workshops on nutrition and hygiene and help local doctors and nurses treat patients. Students worked in obstetrics, dentistry, and general medicine, helping with teeth cleaning, anemia testing, treatments for stomach parasites and tapeworms, and pap smears to test for cervical cancer. Without the clinics, many of the patients would not have been able to see a doctor or pay for the treatments.
The students worked directly with community members to build hygienic lavatory facilities for three local schools. Before the construction, children had no clean facilities for hand-washing. According to ProPeru Cusco Site Director Kenny Ewan, “Proper bathrooms are so important because parasites in children lead to problems with growth and development.”
All of the students participated in one day of tree-planting to help replenish the native forests of Peru and reduce global warming. The students also worked individually with community members to plant every tree, forging connections with individuals they might not otherwise have the chance to meet.
ProPeru Service Corps is a not for profit development agency founded in 1998 and funded by ProWorld Service Corps. ProWorld’s mission is to promote social and economic development, empower communities, and cultivate educated compassionate global citizens.
For more information about ProPeru Service Corp., journalists can contact Adam Saks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877.429.6753.