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Category: Graduate Students

2024 spring interns
2024BlogFirst AidGraduate StudentsInternsMeet Our TeamSocial Media

Meet our 2024 Spring Interns and Volunteers

This spring we have 2 incredible new interns joining us for the semester! Olatunde will be helping us develop an advanced training to further educate, empower, and equip our Community Health Workers we have previously trained. Galia will be helping us with our social media accounts to reach a larger audience and share our mission with more people, as well as using analytics to track our interactions and engagement. We also have 2 volunteers joining us as well! Sarah will be working on an advanced maternal health training assessment, and Casee will be improving our training materials. See below what they will be focusing on in more detail, and learn about who they are!


Olatunde (Ola): He will be developing an advanced first aid training, similar to our advanced maternal health and nutrition trainings we have done in the past. He will be creating a first aid certification that covers topics that go beyond what we teach in the initial CHW training on first aid.

Galia: She will be doing more than just creating social media content, she will also be researching the best methods on how to use different platforms and how to expand our reach. Using our analytics on Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms she will help us engage more with our followers and cater our posts to what people like to see the most.

Sarah: She will focus on helping develop an assessment tool for our advanced maternal health certification.

Casee: She will help improve our training materials by adding more practical information for pain management, first aid, and general care based on her physical therapy knowledge and expertise.


Olatunde Oladipupo

I was born in Nigeria and am currently pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with a focus on Epidemiology at the University of Texas Health School of Public Health in Houston. As an International Medical graduate, my goal is to become a Family Physician in the USA. I am deeply committed to utilizing my expertise in Public Health to improve the well-being of underserved communities and enhance the overall health of the population, extending my impact beyond the patients I will care for in the clinic.

Outside of my professional endeavors, I have a strong passion for English Premier League soccer. During my free time, I relish spending quality moments with my wife and children outdoors, enjoying the beauty of the world around us.


Galia Yonaty 

Hi, My name is Galia Yonaty. I am studying graphic design and digital marketing at Santa Monica College. In my free time, I enjoy reading and baking. The organization’s crucial mission of educating communities on treating preventable diseases resonates with me deeply. In my role as a social media intern, I am eager to amplify and share the impactful work that International Help does.


Sarah Poirier

Hi my name is Sarah! I am in the second year of my MPH program at Saint Louis University, COE and I am concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. I have spent the last 9 months working on pre-assessment work with Title V at Vermont’s State Health Department. I am very excited to be working with IHELP for my capstone project and to have the opportunity to have an impact globally. I am passionate about reducing maternal mortality and closing the healthcare gap for historically marginalized communities. I enjoy hiking, trying new coffee shops, and traveling. I’m excited to join the IHELP team!


Casee Yarborough

Hello! My name is Casee. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training and I currently work in injury prevention for airplane mechanics. I am excited to pass along my first aid and healthcare knowledge for the important work that IHELP is doing across the world. When I’m not working, I love being outside, especially if it’s sunny. I am from Fernandina Beach, Florida so I love anything to do with the water: surfing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming. On a similar note, I also love to exercise. Some of my favorite ways to stay fit are through weightlifting, yoga, or a team sport, like basketball, soccer, or flag football.


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2023BlogCommunity Health WorkersEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsImpactInterns

Investing in Life-Saving Skills: Making a Difference in El Salvador

Healthcare in El Salvador has come a long way and great progress has been made in recent years. However, access to healthcare is unevenly distributed, with those living in low-income regions having less access than those in urban areas. According to WHO, only 44% of Salvadorans have access to basic healthcare services and there are significant disparities in access to care based on socioeconomic status. In addition, indigenous communities may have difficulty accessing care due to language barriers and cultural differences.

First aid training can be a powerful tool to improve access to healthcare in rural El Salvador. By implementing an Advanced First Aid Project through IHELP, we aim to empower the local communities in El Salvador. By equipping local community members with life-saving skills, they can respond quickly and appropriately in case of a medical emergency. They can help provide initial treatment and support, save lives, and prevent complications, thus reducing the burden on already overburdened healthcare facilities. In some cases, early intervention in medical emergencies can prevent complications and reduce the severity of injuries or illnesses. With first-aid training, community members can identify warning signs and provide appropriate care, thus preventing further damage.

We also aim to foster community engagement through the first-aid training project, thus encouraging Salvadorans to take ownership of their health. When a community feels empowered to care for themselves and their neighbors, they are more likely to take an active role in promoting healthy behaviors and practices.

– Nevin Varghese , IHELP Intern

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2023BlogCommunity Health WorkersCompleted ProjectsEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsImpactInternational HELP ProjectsInternsStories

Testimony from El Salvador

When I got the call about the trip I was ecstatic, but when I got the news it would be about a month I was nervous. I have never been out of the country for so long nor did I process that I’d be traveling with a coworker I had never met. But I fully took the plunge and it was the best decision I’ve made. A few weeks later I was packed up and meeting Madeleine in the Houston airport to start our adventure. We started our training in Las Negritas, a small community about 20 minutes away from Texistepeque. The group was all so welcoming and it was sweet to see how close of a community they are. Their closeness and eagerness to learn made the training days so much fun and filled with many shared stories.

After Las Negritas we stopped by to check on a few of our previously trained groups in Chilcuyo and La Y Griega. There we got to check in on their progress in teaching their own new Community Health Workers. It was great to talk to the leaders about their challenges and how they overcame them as well as discuss new topics they want to learn more about. We also got invited to a tree planting and environmental health project put on with the EU in collaboration with a few of our own Community Health Workers. There we were invited to talk a bit about the work International HELP does and how our health workers keep advancing the health of their communities beyond our training. It was lots of fun getting to learn from experts in their fields and they even taught us how they make fertilizer specifically for vegetation in the area.

After our stops in the Texistepeque area, we headed to Metapán where we met Monterey and her family, including her kiddos! We had lots of fun hanging out and exploring before getting started on our Advanced Maternal Health training with the Metapán Red Cross. This group was so much fun as they shared many stories about countless emergencies and how they adapted to them. Day three of training was quite the story as the day of birthing teaching happened to be the day they got a call from a pregnant mother who needed help. Thankfully all was well with mom and baby, but hearing how they grabbed their training manual and tried to follow as best as they could was amazing. Their attention to detail and questions throughout the day was incredible to see. We also got to see the festival of Metapán that happened to start day two of training. So when not teaching we were soaking up all the food, culture, and parades the city had to offer.

After Metapán we headed to Antigua, Guatemala for a few days as we had downtime between training and meetings. There we made many connections with a few nurses, medical students, and organizations that we hope to partner with for future projects. After Antigua, we headed to San Salvador to work on training and meeting with partners. Our training at COFAVAD was great! They loved the training as we had extra special guests to help demonstrate childhood health concerns.

While in San Salvador we had a meeting with the Santa Ana Diputado about how he might be able to help us in our projects in El Salvador and how to expand our reach as well. While there, he also offered us a tour of the government building which was fun to learn more about their government processes and new reforms coming through the changes in government.

Monica Bates, IHELP Intern

2023Completed ProjectsEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsInternational HELP ProjectsInterns

El Salvador Experience and Personal Testimony

In March 2023, I went to El Salvador ready to fully engage, learn, and deliver the mission and vision of IHELP, which is to “educate, equip, and empower people in need to be health leaders in their community.” I traveled alongside Madeleine who was on her third trip to El Salvador, and we were ready to live and learn all this trip had in store for us. We spent about a week and a half in Texistepeque and from the moment we landed in El Salvador to the moment we left, we were welcomed and well taken care of by community members. During this trip, we had a busy schedule that consisted of interest group meetings, training 23 new CHWs in Ojo de Agua, certifying CHWs in El Sunza on advanced nutrition, and much more. The overall trip was an incredible experience, to say the least.


This was a one-day event in which we met with this group of CHWs to pilot a new initiative of CHWs training CHWs. While engaging with these ladies, we learned about their passion to become CHWs and how these new skills would benefit their community. While this is a small group, they are strong and mighty and ready to put their new skills into action. We are very confident that they will accomplish great things in their community.


El Sunza: Advanced Nutrition 

As I began to understand the work of IHELP in El Salvador, the CHWs of El Sunza are at the heart of the organization’s work. This group of CHWs has been active for six years and has accomplished many changes within their community, including cleaning up their community river and making a garden that will provide the community with fresh vegetables. 

Helping our friends in this community learn about advanced nutrition and learning to use a glucometer was one of my favorite parts of this training. We had the pleasure to spend time with this group throughout the week which allowed me to get to know all of them better and make wonderful memories.


Ojo de Agua

This was such an amazing group to train. The energy and passion were felt during each session! We loved hearing reasons behind the purpose each community member had for attending the training and each one of them had the desire to help their community as much as possible. Our favorite day was First Aid. Community members learned about the importance of CPR and saving lives. We shared many laughs and made great memories with our new community of friends!

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador and work alongside Madeleine and implement the CHW training program. Not only did I get hands-on experience, but I also saw firsthand the impact health education has on the lives of the communities IHELP serves. Thank you IHELP and Madeleine for all that you do and for helping me grow as a public health professional.


Adriana Araica, IHELP Intern


2023BlogCommunity Health WorkersCompleted ProjectsEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsInterns

The Role of Health Knowledge in Community Empowerment

Implementing Community Health Worker Trainings in Texistepeque, El Salvador

June in El Salvador

In June 2022 as part of my MPH internship, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks with IHELP team members in Texistepeque, El Salvador to implement our Community Health Worker (CHW) trainings in two caserios (small villages) within the municipality of Texistepeque: Bendición de Dios and La Y Griega. IHELP began the Texistepeque caserios partnership to empower local people to become health leaders in their communities. IHELP’s commitment to equipping local health leaders is particularly relevant as it is a rural area with limited access and increased barriers to healthcare. Because of our established relationships with local people in Texistepeque, in addition to a community needs assessment, IHELP worked with community members to identify key health issues affecting their communities most. We taught several topics including taking care of a sick person, taking vital signs, nutrition, diabetes, renal failure, general first aid, respiratory illnesses, and much more.

Community Impact

As an IHELP intern and team member, my role consisted of directly teaching certain health topics, translating, assisting in monitoring and evaluation work, and more. My favorite part of the experience was getting to know community members, and embracing hospitality being welcomed into their lives and realities in rural El Salvador. This experience connected me to IHELP’s approach and mission, that is, to come alongside local community members providing knowledge and tools to improve overall health in their communities.

While engaging in dialogue with CHWs, I was touched hearing what motivated them to participate in our CHW training. One CHW shared with us that “it is never too late to learn or to try something new in life.” I quickly noticed that several women came to be trained as CHWs. Many shared that they wanted to become CHWs to meaningfully serve their communities beyond traditional gender norms in their culture. There was much beauty in accompanying community members genuinely interested in learning about health topics that otherwise would not have access to health education. In El Salvador, I witnessed the fruit of IHELP’s empowerment education model: the commitment of CHWs to share the health knowledge they have learned and taking ownership of their community’s health. This will have a sustainable impact on health promotion for years to come. 

Mutuality in Global Health

Being an IHELP intern, both within the United States and El Salvador, I could not help but reflect on the role of relationship-building and community organizing in Global Health. Partnering with international communities is an immense privilege and opportunity to engage in reciprocal relationships and mutual learning (mutuality). Mutuality proves a powerful path forward in global health to ensure voices are heard of the community members we aim to educate, equip, and empower. If we engage in such relationships at the grassroots level, a bottom-up approach (instead of top-down programming often seen in the field) takes into account the lived experience of each community member. Even as a capacity-building organization offering health training to CHWs, we as trainers and as an organization have much to learn from the CHWs we train. In El Salvador I gained an increased appreciation for this mutuality as I learned so much from CHWs; we all have something to offer and learn from one another, regarding health knowledge and beyond. I conclude with a quote by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who wrote in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “Nobody educates anybody else, nobody educates themselves, people educate among themselves mediated by the world.”


Ashley Richard, IHELP Intern

2022BlogCommunity Health WorkersGraduate StudentsInterns

The Roles and Functions of Community Health Workers in Primary Care

Community Health Workers (CHWs) play a major role in providing emergency health services in certain situations like Natural Disasters when there will be a shortage of health workers or slower response from the Local Government Health System. Some common natural disasters which will have a huge impact on many people in the community & require quick help from CHWs:

Fall 2021 Interns Photo
2021Graduate StudentsInternsMeet Our Team

Meet Our 2021 Fall Interns

This fall we have a new group of incredible interns helping with a variety of projects over the coming months. Those projects range from finalizing program details for training expansion in rural El Salvador, completing country profiles, and analyzing the needs of the community in Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as updating and helping develop our Google Classroom software for remote training in Syria. We’re so excited to see all the amazing work they will do and the support they will provide to help us equip, empower, and educate local people around the globe. Welcome to the team!

Bassima Alodini

Hi! I am Bassima and I am from Yemen, which is known as Happy Yemen. I studied medicine and practiced many medical aspects focusing on primary health care. Volunteering and participating with young people and communities are the main drivers of my passion. Then studying global health in Bonn university, enhances my knowledge in empowering communities, organizing and planning projects and trying to manage the environment’s issues. As we need everyone to be healthy, this will not be without treating the unanimous health issues globally, and that is why I am here in this esteemed, valuable organization.


Giselle Correia

My name is Giselle, I live in Houston, Texas. I am currently attending Southern New Hampshire University, completing a Masters in Public Health Program. Global Health is my concentration and I am very excited to be a part of this program.


Kaitlyn Keely

I’m from Washington, IL, which is a small town 2 hours South of Chicago, and have recently moved to just outside of Asheville, NC. I’m currently a Senior at Boston University studying Health Science with hopes to pursue a Law Degree after graduation. In my free time, I love to explore the city of Boston and find new restaurants or sites to see.


Abigail Lipe

Hi! My name is Abigail, and I’m currently finishing up my Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. My area of focus is tropical medicine and infectious disease, with particular interest in HIV and women’s health. Ultimately, after a few years of experience in the field, I hope to continue on to get a PhD in Epidemiology and become a professor of infectious disease!


Deena Ayesh

Deena is currently an undergraduate chemistry student at the University of California, Irvine. She aims to eventually study medicine and achieve her dream of becoming a pediatric intensivist for an international organization such as the World Health Organization of Doctors Without Borders. Alongside her full-time courseload, she works as a Starbucks barista and a freelance artist in her spare time. Her hobbies include human rights advocacy, jewelry-making, and learning different languages. During her internship with International HELP, Deena hopes to gain more insight in the process of addressing disparities for health education programs in underprivileged communities.

Developing Nation Impoverished Houses
2021BlogCommunity Health WorkersGraduate StudentsInterns

Community Health Workers’ Roles in the Medical System of Developing Nations

Community Health Workers (CHWs) hold a unique role within the public health and medical systems. They provide a wide range of services and assist with several public health programs around the world. Many CHWs in the United States and high-income countries act as health promoters, educating community members about health-related topics.1 CHWs have an in-depth understanding of their communities, and they can engage community leaders and members and spread public health messages in a culturally acceptable manner. In this context, CHWs serve a supporting role to well-established medical and public health systems, and it is easy to imagine a sharp distinction between Community Health Workers and trained healthcare professionals.

In contrast, CHWs in developing nations often complement overstretched healthcare systems and provide a wide variety of primary healthcare services.2 The type and complexity of these services as well as incentives and pay will vary widely depending on location and level of education attained by the CHW.2 This can blur the distinction between a layperson volunteering and a healthcare professional providing a service as a career. A systematic review of research on community health workers found that CHWs could be generally classified into three levels from lay people with informal training to “paraprofessionals” with in-depth training.2 Each level has different roles within the healthcare system, but the authors note there is a lot of evidence that all levels of CHWs contribute to increasing healthcare coverage.2 This shows that pinpointing the exact role of the CHW in the medical system of developing nations is difficult, but training CHWs is nonetheless a worthwhile global health project to increase healthcare coverage for hard-to-reach populations.

– Timothy Ramseyer, MPH Intern


1. Malcarney, M. B., Pittman, P., Quigley, L., Horton, K., & Seiler, N. (2017). The Changing Roles of Community Health Workers. Health services research, 52 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 360–382.

2. Olaniran, A., Smith, H., Unkels, R., Bar-Zeev, S., & van den Broek, N. (2017). Who is a community health worker? – a systematic review of definitions. Global health action, 10(1), 1272223.

2021BlogEl SalvadorGraduate StudentsInternsOrganization Updates

Expanding the Texistepeque, El Salvador Project to Reach More Communities

In June 2017, 16 Community Health Workers (CHWs) were trained in the city of Texistepeque, El Salvador through Oasis de Gracia Iglesia. In 2019, the community partner and IHELP decided to expand the project to reach the rural caserios (villages) surrounding Texistepeque. However, COVID-19 put that plan on hold. It wasn’t until this past spring that IHELP was able to fully start the project again.

As I started my internship in May, this new project became my top priority, as it is one of the largest projects IHELP has taken on. After meeting with a community leader, we learned that 48 potential caserios are looking to participate in the CHW training. To ensure these future CHWs are trained effectively, I have spent the last two months researching Texistepeque, analyzing community assessments, developing project plans, working through program evaluations, and compiling the training curriculum.

Since COVID-19 is still a very present global issue, the CHW training will likely not occur until January 2022. However, these next 5 months will allow us to build our project capacity to meet the needs of this vast project. By putting in the time now, we can ensure all CHWs are effectively trained to end preventable diseases throughout the rural caserios of Texistepeque. I look forward to spending the remaining time of my internship on this project and doing my part to further the mission of IHELP.

– Madeleine Burkholder, MPH Intern, Saint Louis University

2021BlogCommunity Health WorkersDisaster PreparednessGraduate StudentsInterns

Community Health Workers and Disaster Relief

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are trusted individuals who assist in improving health through promotion and education, help with chronic disease management, and provide necessary social support, counseling, and patient care access to members of their community.1,2   Although they occupy several roles and their work has been repeatedly linked to health outcome improvement, an additional discipline where Community Health Workers may provide valuable support is disaster response. When a community is faced with disaster, they may be able to step in and offer emergency aid in two main areas to include:

1.) Providing emotional and social support

Following disasters, community members are often anxious and fearful due to the loss of vital resources such as food, water, and housing. Inevitably, stress, and in some cases, depression may have an impact on their health and wellness.2 It is often necessary to acknowledge what is termed “secondary disasters” when catastrophe impacts a community. These secondary disasters refer to the psychosocial well-being of everyone affected by the disaster and encompass addressing their mental and emotional state.2 Based on their training, community health workers may be able to provide counseling to those in need, and if they are unable to meet their needs, they can provide referrals to the appropriate professionals for those services.2 Due to the established relationships that community health workers often have with community members, they are likely to confide in and trust these individuals and be receptive to the care that they offer.2 Additionally, they may aide in equipping community members with appropriate preparedness knowledge, and awareness on what to expect in the days and weeks to come, helping to ease anxiety and fear.2

2.) Assessing resource availability and medical needs

Community Health Workers may be key in linking community members to necessary resources for food, water, and shelter, in addition to more advanced emergency aid when necessary.2 They may work to assess the need and assist members in signing up for post-disaster recovery aid.Being that community health workers often live in the communities they serve, they are aware of the everyday needs of their fellow community members and are therefore able to conduct an accurate assessment of the loss and availability of resources following a disaster. Community health workers are often trained to provide limited direct medical services routinely, and their knowledge of how to address basic medical needs may become useful during a disaster, especially when access and transportation to medical facilities may be limited. Additionally, family separation is a common result of disasters, which can be detrimental for individuals with chronic diseases who rely on familial support and care for their condition.2 Community Health workers may step in and work to provide that support and temporary medical care.2

The value of Community Health Workers is boundless. In the area of disaster response, with appropriate training and incorporation of these individuals into disaster preparedness plans, they may be of substantial assistance in helping to sustain communities when they are faced with foreseen and unforeseen circumstances as a result of catastrophe.

– Kayla Vanhook, MPH Intern


  1. Role of Community Health Workers. (2014, June). Retrieved November 30, 2020, from /healthdisp/role-of-community-health-workers.htm
  2. Nicholls, K., Picou, S. J., & McCord, S. C. (2017). Training community health workers to enhance disaster resilience. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 23 Suppl 6 Suppl, Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, S78-S84. doi:10.1097/PHH.0000000000000645