HELP in the news

Getting Involved: SUU, HELP encourages service abroad trips


Published: Monday, April 2, 2012

Getting Involved: SUU, HELP encourages service abroad trips

SUU’s Global Engagement Center has partnered with HELP International to encourage students to participate in service abroad trips offered this summer.

Earlier this semester, HELP International, a nonprofit organization that provides summer volunteer and internship opportunities, contacted the campus Global Engagement Center to help promote the opportunities offered to students. 

Taylor Beckwith, a graduate student from Las Vegas, is the campus representative for HELP International and said she is "impressed by their passion and assistance."
Beckwith, who is participating in the Thailand program this summer, said HELP International is unique because it is located various locations in Africa, Latin America and other areas and allows for a lot of hands-on and leadership experience.
According to the organization's website, their projects specialize in three competencies: public health, education, and entrepreneurship. Students are able to choose which competency they would like to participate in.
Beckwith explained most students choose to participate in the volunteer and internship programs. Students can either choose to jump right in and start work on the project or conduct research and develop the projects for other participants. 

Students can also gain hands-on business experience by being chosen as a paid manager, who helps coordinate HELP International teams around the world, or participate in a U.S. based internship, getting experience in human resources, public relations, and recruiting. 
HELP International has been a pleasure to work with," Beckwith said. "They hold trainings and fun activities like getting together at the Festival of Colors, movie nights and cultural nights."
Kurt Harris, director of SUU's Global Engagement Center, said there are a variety of benefits students receive by participating in HELP International's program.
"Students get experience that few get to have," he said. "It is a great resume builder."
HELP International's current programs travel to a variety of countries, including Uganda, India, Thailand, Belize, Fiji and more. The trips begin as early as May and can run up until late August.
Harris said HELP International is especially beneficial because the leaders are familiar with each region and the cost is relatively affordable. 
The programs run from six to 16 weeks with a flat rate fee of $2,950 that covers housing, food, project funding, training, and a t-shirt, Beckwith said.
Both Harris and Beckwith agree that participating in one of HELP International's trips is valuable because of the practical experience and networking opportunities students receive.
"You become more confident as a person having challenged yourself by going out of your comfrot zone," Harris said.
"You gain leadership skills, confidence, and a desire to make the world a better place," Beckwith said. "The most common thing that participants walk away saying is that the experience completely changed their lives."
According to Beckwith, the overall message they want to share is about "education and awareness in inspiring communities and individuals to find ways to help others." 
Beckwith said she encourages those interested to visit for more information.

Non-profit org. helps students fight poverty


Published: Sunday, October 16, 2011

Many USU students had the opportunity to travel around the world this summer and one way was through the Help International Program, which was created for young adults to serve, empower and change the lives of those in need. 

Founded in 1999, Help was created by a group of BYU faculty members and students, who raised $115,000 and spent four months in Honduras conducting humanitarian work after the country was devastated by Hurricane Mitch.

Tim Enrico, the USU campus representative for Help who served in Uganda last year, said students and young professionals of all majors have the opportunity to implement sustainable projects or help with previously implemented projects in other countries through Help.

"We get into a country and there's typically not so much there except for what (Help has) done in the past," he said.

Kellie Norton, a USU student involved with Help this summer, said, "Help does sustainable development projects in eight different countries — Uganda, Tanzania, India, Thailand, Fiji, El Salvador, Belize and Peru — every year and focuses on education, public health and entrepreneurship."

Norton, who spent three months in Lugazi, Uganda, helping marginalized women this year, said the experience was "eye-opening."

"Most of the girls didn't have access to feminine hygiene products, birth control if they were sexually active or other basic health items," Norton said. "A lot of them struggled desperately to find money for school fees. Several girls that I talked to were being pressured into having sex with their uncles or other men that were paying their school fees, with the threat of being kicked out of the house and not being able to attend school anymore if they refused."

Learning about the people in the area was something Norton said she enjoyed.     

Help participants sometimes conduct HIV screenings, support groups and in countries like India, they help among leper colonies and assist in sex trafficking rehabilitation, he added.

"It's not study abroad," Enrico said. "You're never sitting in a classroom, except for when you do your initial training, and when we do training we teach about project management, safety, or other important details, like where you'll be living in a rural village like Uganda or some rainforest in Thailand."

Students who are interested and have completed one year of college can apply on Help's website to get involved. There is a fee, but Enrico said many students do fundraising through letter campaigns to get there.

Although it is a 40-hour work week, Enrico said students get the chance to spend the weekends exploring and enjoying the countries they serve in. Activities include riding elephants, exploring ancient ruins, going on safaris, hiking volcanoes and even bungee jumping in the Nile, Enrico said.






Volunteers give service for community development
Published: Thursday, July 7, 2011

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world," is what Matthew Colling, program co-director of HELP International, tells people every day.

HELP International is a non-profit organization committed to empowering people to fight global poverty though sustainable, life-changing development programs. This summer they are bringing their country total to eight by opening programs in two new countries: Tanzania and Peru.

Courtesy of Help International
HELP International volunteers have visited eight countries -- including Uganda in Africa, where this photo was taken -- since 1999, to teach locals and relieve suffering.

Opening the new area of Tanzania are country directors, Tyler and America Nelson.

"We are looking forward to the challenge of pioneering a new location for HELP International," Brother Nelson said. "The thought of being first on the ground and setting a foundation for years of future work in this highly impoverished location is very exciting."


Courtesy of Help International
In 2010, volunteers traveled to Uganda, where they worked together with locals to apply agricultural techniques.

Organizations like HELP International begin with people who have that kind of vision: in this case, Warner Woodworth, a social entrepreneur and organizational behavior professor at BYU. He has always been service-oriented and development-minded.

After earning a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, he decided that he wanted to take the skills that he had gained, and apply them to people who would never have the resources to pay for them...

Read the full article





International organization gives students a chance to teach life skills

A cataract is a clouding in the eye that can be treated easily with medical help, but some people suffer from blindness caused by cataracts because they lack access to sufficient medical care.


HELP International is a registered non-profit organization that teams up with other non-governmental organizations and local partners to help communities throughout countries such as Belize, El Salvador, Peru, Uganda, Fiji, Tanzania, India and Thailand.

The company recruits volunteers mostly for summer, said Suzanne Whitehead, a junior majoring in socio-cultural anthropology. Whitehead is the country director for Uganda.

Whitehead said the company and its volunteers go out to find specific needs in the community, covering different fields of human necessities such as education, public health and community development, with different expertise from young professionals who volunteer.

“Our objective is to fight poverty and empower people,” said Mike Riding, executive director of HELP International.

“In the process, everyone learns and grows.”

Lizzie Rupp, a senior in the nursing program who volunteered in Uganda in 2009, said the eye camp was one of the most memorable experiences for her. She said the eye clinic HELP ran in Uganda partnered with other organizations to do screenings for eyeglasses and perform surgery to restore people’s vision.

“Cataracts aren’t a big deal in the U.S.,” Rupp said. “But there was a man who was blind for 40 years because of it. After the surgery, he was so excited. He said something like, ‘I can see, I can see! I can finally tell if you are a girl or a boy.’ He kept saying thank you over and over again.”

Eyesight wasn’t the only health issue. The team also taught HIV groups about health, said Aly Archer, a senior majoring in elementary education, who was also a volunteer in 2009 in Uganda. She said she helped the groups build a mushroom farm to earn bus fares.

“They sold mushrooms for transportation,” Rupp said. “Many people lived too far away to travel from their homes to the HIV center.”

She also helped build adobe stoves, which replaced indoor burning fires, to reduce smoke and hold heat longer, she said.

Archer said HELP International offers more than health projects. She taught in schools on topics such as square foot gardening, utilizing small spaces and even making jewelry.

Whitney Smith, a graduate in exercise science, shared how she taught dance to adolescent mothers in temporary homes in El Salvador. She said she likes how people in different fields of expertise can come together and make a perfect group for the job. She has volunteered with HELP International more than once after graduation.

“I wanted to be able to teach people what I learned,” Smith said.

Volunteering with HELP International helps not only the people of different countries, but also some of the volunteers. Smith said her experience in HELP International changed the direction of her life. Archer said she changed her major from geography to elementary education after the experience.

“[The students] get a broader perspective of the world,” Whitehead said. “They can apply what they learned in school and see what they can personally do to help.”

Of course, HELP International isn’t the only non-profit organization out there. But these volunteers said they think the projects they worked on through HELP are the most sustainable.

The work they do can keep going even after the volunteers leave because of the partnership with other local organizations. It’s also supported by many donors, grants and fundraising by the volunteers. It is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Whitehead said.

Along with poverty around the world, there is poverty in the U.S. Rupp said she learned there is work to be done here in America, and people can help others at BYU.

“There was a man, Kizza, and we told him that there are poor people in America, too,” Archer said. “He asked, ‘Why did you come to Uganda to help poverty, then?’ He was the most inspiring person in the community.”

Some volunteers took personal inspiration and even long-lasting friendship back home, in addition to the memories of entertainments in new cultures. Archer and Rupp are roommates now, after their experience together in Uganda.

“It fits perfectly with the BYU motto,” Whitehead said. “Go forth to serve.”

More information about volunteering for six, 12 or 18 weeks with HELP International is at

Non-profits: coping in today’s economy

It’s not common for an indigenous woman in Mexico to have a college degree, but scholarships are making it possible.

One woman from an indigenous village in Mexico is now a professional lawyer and the first in her village to have such a degree.  

There have been many similar success stories with the scholarships provided by Foundation Escalera, said Yael Guinzberg, executive director and BYU alumna.

“When we see these things are possible, nothing can compare to the joy I feel,” Guinzberg said. 

Foundation Escalera’s mission is to bring young people in Mexico out of the cycle of poverty. The foundation has three core programs, which include a scholarship program, research and school construction, Guinzberg said.

Each year, the foundation sponsors about 80 high school students. It has also partnered with universities including Oxford, Columbia and the London School of Economics to research the impact of incentives in education in Mexico. 

Every December, Foundation Escalera’s volunteers go on a four-day expedition to an indigenous community in Mexico to build a middle school. The Foundation has built several middle schools in remote Chiapas, which will ultimately help about 200 people. 

The reason for choosing Chiapas was because they found many young people there who did not qualify for continued education because they did not have a middle school education and there was a language barrier. Foundation Escalera decided to help bridge the gap by building schools in rural areas, as stated on

“Nothing can compare to what I feel when I see a school finished,” Guinzberg said. “Even when I don’t know the students personally, I just feel I am doing something good.”

Since the downturn in the economy, however, many nonprofits have seen cuts in funding and donations.

In years past, the Mexican government has contributed 50 percent of the cost of the schools built by Foundation Escalera. Since budgets are tighter this year, the government has asked the foundation to contribute more, Guinzberg said. 

The annual nonprofit economic survey in 2009, conducted by, showed a 16 percent increase in the number of nonprofit organizations that reported contributions had decreased since the year before as a result of the economic downturn.

On the same survey, 36 percent of grant makers reported a decrease in the number of monetary awards given compared to 16 percent in 2008, as stated on 

Rachel Wyatt, volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Utah County, said for their organization, as the economy goes down, the need goes up.

“We’ve seen the need rise, but not necessarily the funds,” Wyatt said. “To fulfill the need for people to volunteer, we also need the funding to do that.”

The government has had to cut back on grants given to nonprofit organizations and HELP-International has not been an exception.

“We’ve definitely seen a hit from the grants we’ve received,” said Mike Riding, executive director of HELP-International. “They’ve been reduced quite a bit.”

David Bayles, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Utah County, said their board of directors has had to look elsewhere to bring in money for the club.

However, volunteerism hasn’t really decreased, Bayles said. Instead, it seems to have increased since the fall of the economy.

“As the majority of our volunteers come from local universities, we have had a steady stream of volunteers despite the current economic climate,” Bayles said. 

Malinda Miller, volunteer coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club of Utah County, agreed.

“If anything I think that the volunteer program has grown just because in the past couple of years, they’ve really put an emphasis on the volunteer program,” Miller said.

Wyatt said Habitat for Humanity has actually seen more unemployed people come in to get volunteer hours, possibly to help their resumes. 

Riding said they’ve also seen their volunteer numbers go up over the past several years. He said it might be because students aren’t getting internships so they choose to intern with HELP.

Recently, HELP-International has actually been doing more as far as recruiting and public relations efforts, Riding said. 

“We haven’t slowed down at all,” Riding said. “As an organization, we are growing. We’re pushing even harder to market the organization and the economy hasn’t affected recruits.”


The Daily Herald, September 2009




Ryan Squires joined the network of hundreds of other HELP International volunteers by spending his summer managing eye clinics in Uganda.  Squires had a life-changing experience while gaining experience for medial school and helping people in rural villages improve their sight.


Read the full article




LDS Church News, April 2009

u seya stove


Started as a strictly humanitarian organization, HELP International now aims for sustainable development projects with lasting impact. In the process, volunteers are trained to be lifetime social entrepreneurs. Founder Warner Woodworth explains that the need for HELP International is greater now than ever before.

Read the full article




The Daily Universe,  April 2009





A love of helping the disable has led Laura Webb to spend every summer since she was 13 volunteering around the world.  Webb has participated in HELP International programs in Uganda, and recently traveled to El Salvador with HELP to work in the Hogar de Niño Orphanage.



Read the full article





The Daily Universe, March 2009


U child in rags


After sending a combined nearly 1,200 participants to impoverished countries, HELP International and Empowering Nations, two similarly modeled Utah-based non-profits, have merged.  The move will combine the organizations’ resources and eliminate the competition for volunteers.


Read the full article





The Daily Universe, February 2009


HELP International will add a program in Fiji starting summer 2009, with in-country projects including organic gardening and health classes.  The Fiji program does not require language skills and allows program participants to fight poverty in an often-overlooked country.



Read the full article




The Deseret News, November 2008

U child and baby


Fifteen members of Provo’s Timpview High School girls soccer team will volunteer with HELP International programs and Goals for Girls in June 2009.  The team will be just the second high-school aged girls soccer team from the United States to travel to Africa, where they will work to better lives through soccer.


Read the full article



The Daily Universe, October 2008


u chils in jerry can


As the Global Action Malaria Plan takes strong measures to fight malaria in Africa, HELP International program participants work with educations programs in Uganda, a nation devastated by the world’s deadliest disease.


Read the full article





LDS Living, September 2008


E volunteer loving kids


From humble beginnings in the wake of Hurricane Mitch’s destruction to Honduras, HELP International has grown to operate in eight countries and has sent hundreds of volunteers.  Successful projects include rural libraries, health classes and safe water for villages, changing the lives the volunteers and those living in poverty.


Read the full article





The Daily Universe, September 2008


U ashley w


HELP International will join forces with local musicians to present a benefit concert for Uganda.  The event, featuring everything from an a cappella group to a high school choir, will help raise money for children and families assisted by HELP programs in Uganda.


Read the full article





The Daily Universe, June 2008


G cut tin can stove



Founded in 1999, HELP International works towards sustainable development through meaningful trips for volunteers and locals.  Many alumni point to their experience with HELP as the starting point for their continued work in development.


Read the full article





The Daily Universe, March 2008


E teaching esl


Helping single mothers in El Salvador is a regular occurrence for HELP International participants, but now every member of the BYU community has a chance to help the program.  BYU students and clubs will host a week of service to benefit outside organizations, including HELP International.


Read the full article





The Daily Universe, December 2007




After seeing the corruption and awful conditions of orphanages in Guatemala, 24-year-old Guillermo Rangel created Clara Fantasia, an orphanage focused on reuniting children with their families.  HELP volunteers assist Rangel and have seen firsthand the incredible changes that come as families are brought back together.



Read the full article






The Daily Herald, June 2007




After volunteering with HELP International in El Salvador in 2005, Rachel Perkins knew she had found something worthwhile.  Her love for humanitarian work grew as she served as HELP International recruiting specialist, and she will soon be a country director in El Salvador.  Perkins credits her life-changing experience with HELP to her new-found passion in life.



Read the full article





The Daily Herald, March 2003


G group smile


Business classes for the poor run by HELP volunteers in Peru have changed the lives of many people.  HELP, along with other non-profit organizations, will be featured at BYU’s Microenterprise Conference to teach of the importance and raise awareness about microfinance and development.


Read the full article




The Daily Herald, April 2001


E a young mothers


HELP volunteers throughout the world are using their experience to better the lives of the impoverished and improve their own lives through meaningful service.  The unique approach to development has led volunteers to create successful projects, including health clinics and rural libraries.


Read the full article




The Daily Universe, April 2001

E b vol and girl readingWanting to raise awareness about what it means to live in poverty, two BYU students will travel to El Salvador and Peru this summer with HELP International to create a documentary.  Both students served LDS missions in Latin America and want to share their love of the people with the world.


Read the full article