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Category: Interns

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

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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

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2023BlogInternsMeet Our Team

Meet Our 2023 Spring Interns

This spring we have 5 incredible new interns joining our team. They will be helping us research for our upcoming projects in Guyana, El Salvador, and Honduras. Here is a list of what each intern will be focusing on this spring semester.

Nevin: Developing and finalizing our advanced certification in nutrition and first aid

Ayodele: Guyana and Curacao: Program planning for 2 new community projects.

Adriana: El Salvador: Program planning for new community project and translation.

Joyce: El Salvador: Program planning for advanced certification with current CHW’s in nutrition. Also, helping with translation and being the point of contact for a few of our current CHW groups

Erin: Honduras: Program planning for a new community project.


Nevin Varghese  

Nevin Varghese is a physician from Texas who enjoys patient care and teaching medicine. He considers himself an
educator and believes that the advancement of global health depends on education and research involving all levels of society. He is also completing Master of Public Health at Benedictine University, a strong interest he developed d
uring the Covid pandemic. The MPH program focuses on health policy, epidemiology, social and behavioral aspects of health, medical ethics, public health education, health and environment, biostatistics, and research methods. He believes that this path will help in advancing global healthcare and eliminate health disparities. Nevin is currently doing an Internship/Practicum with International Help through which he aims to improve global health needs in Central America. Besides medicine, you would find him learning new languages and exploring new cultures. He enjoys watching international movies and documentaries and reading about the universe and space exploration.


Ayodele Tyndall 

Ayodele Tyndall is a Master of Public Health student with a concentration in Nutrition at Liberty University. She is passionate about community education and nutrition intervention. Her interests in disease prevention through good nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits. Her goal is to equip individuals in the community with the knowledge to choose and live healthily.


Adriana Araica 

Adriana Araica was born in Managua, Nicaragua. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Community Health from George Mason University, with a concentration in Global Health. While completing her studies she worked at a small nonprofit dental organization, servicing the indigent population of Northern Virginia. As a Community Health worker for the Fairfax County Health Department, she aided clients to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, she works as a family assistance worker, providing resources to the residents of Fairfax County, as well as finalizing her MPH studies. During her free time, she enjoys reading, watching documentaries, and spending time with her chihuahua, family, and friends.


Joyce Gonzalez 

My name is Joyce Gonzalez. I am originally from New York and have a big family as one of 8 siblings. I am a Navy veteran with over 15 years of navy service. I married a fellow sailor, and we have two beautiful boys, Sebastian (4) and Gabriel (7). I work for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, issuing permits and clearances for wastewater collection systems.   I am currently in the final year of my MPH at the University of Nevada Reno. I enjoy playing video games, reading, and spending quality time with my family in my spare time.


Erin Bates 

Erin Bates is a dentist in upstate New York with a background in private practice dentistry and an interest in global health. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia, she attended the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Dentistry. Erin completed a General Practice Residency at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine and then returned to her home state of Missouri to practice. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Health through Liberty University with the aim of utilizing ongoing continuing education to augment her dental practice and enter the academic realm in the future. She is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry and the American College of Dentists and enjoys having the opportunity to travel, spending time with her husband, and adventuring in the great outdoors with her dog.

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20222023BlogInternsMeet Our Team

Meet Our 2022 Interns

Hello 2023! We are so grateful for all of our 2022 interns. We had a total of nine new interns join the team, as well as a few that stayed with us from previous semesters. We wanted to give you the opportunity to learn more about the people who made this past year possible. With their help we were able to complete nine projects, training over 140 Community Health Workers in El Salvador, Syria, Honduras, and Zimbabwe! Once again we want to say a big thank you and highlight our awesome interns


Fatou Cisse 

My name is Fatou, and I am an MPH student at the University of Miami. My experience consists of 10+ years of non-profit public health experience. My interests are in epidemiology and program development. I became interested in the field by observing inequities in underserved communities along with low levels of health literacy and its effects on the population’s disease conditions and overall health.  I have been involved in founding and consulting a non-profit foundation, supporting community-based programs, and using research data to plan and execute community interventions in underserved populations.


Ashley Richard 

My name is Ashley, and I am studying for my Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health at Saint Louis University. I am passionate about partnering with communities to improve health and well-being, from the people’s perspective. I am excited to join the International HELP team!


Bobongile Nkala

My name is Babongile Blisset Nkala. I am a Registered Nurse and Master of Science in Public Health degree (MPH) candidate. I have vast experience working in TB & HIV research projects in Eswatini and Sierra Leone. I have worked within a variety of settings with diverse contexts thereby, providing me with valuable experiences. I am passionate about working closely with communities in countries with limited resources and various health system gaps to provide sustainable solutions.


Kelda Lee

I am an MPH Candidate at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GWU. I am also working part-time as a Public Health & Community Development Consultant in Maputo, Mozambique where I currently live.


Kaitlyn Mikalic

Currently, I am a graduate student at Arcadia University in Philadelphia completing a dual MPH and MMS degree. I graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2020 with an undergraduate degree in Health Science. Personally, I enjoy the beach, listening to podcasts, and writing in my planner. Throughout my time in Orlando, I worked and volunteered for various organizations and health care clinics. I found my passion for public health through these experiences as I recognized just how important it is to not only treat diseases acutely but also take an upstream approach to understand the root of the problems people are experiencing. During the first few semesters of my MPH degree, my favorite classes were program planning and communications and through these classes, I’ve gained the knowledge and skills to create communication materials and programs that promote positive health behavior changes. I am very excited to put my new skills to work this spring and to learn even more from my new internship with International HELP. 


Djenabou Diallo

My name is Djenabou Diallo, an MPH in Epidemiology student at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston at the San Antonio Regional Campus. I am originally from Guinea but moved to the United States in 2009. The health and science field has always been an interest of mine from a young age. I was fortunate to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) for my undergraduate studies and earned my Bachelor of Science in Biology there. My undergraduate studies helped me hone in on microbiology and infectious diseases as my fields of interest. After a semester at UTSA graduate program in Microbiology and Immunology, I decided to pursue my master’s in public health. I hope to find my professional fulfilment in the public health field as an infectious disease epidemiologist that intersects research knowledge and advancement with everyday health measures and practice for the betterment of people’s health; be it locally or globally. My hobbies include cooking, visiting parks and museums, sleeping, and volunteering. As a practicum intern with an organization like International HELP who seeks to educate, empower, and equip future health leaders to serve their communities; I wish to take my first steps in public health practice learning as much as I can with a powerful mission and vison centered around sustainability and the communities I serve.    


Riley Connelly

Hi! My name is Riley, and I am a sophomore at Saint Louis University studying Public Health, International Studies, and Spanish. I hope to pursue an MPH in the future with concentrations in Global Health and Biosecurity/Disaster Preparedness. I am passionate about disease prevention, and I am so excited to work with this incredible organization to do just that! In my free time, I enjoy exploring coffee shops, taking outdoor walks, and reading.


Joanna Herrera

My name is Joanna Herrera, new intern for International Help. I have been a Registered Nurse for over 18 years and work in Los Angeles. I grew up in the Northern Virginia area. This is my last year in my Masters in Public Health degree in American Public University System. I love art, traveling, barre, nature walks, and writing.


Alicia Etwaru

Hi! My name is Alicia Etwaru and I am an MPH intern at International HELP. I studied Health Sciences on a pre-med track during undergrad where I was exposed to the field of public health. I am currently completing my 2nd year of the MPH program with a concentration in Urban Health at Northeastern University. I am passionate about community and global health with hopes to improve the health status of underserved communities. I look forward to working with International HELP as we learn from various cultures while educating and empowering individuals to take charge of their health. 

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:

2021BlogCommunity Health WorkersInterns

The Importance of Nutrition for Community Health Workers

Being a Community Health Worker (CHW) is a difficult job at times, especially when it comes to the topic of nutrition. Nutrition is a very important component when CHWs are doing their work as it is the key to a lot of the health issues that are faced in society, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc. CHWs must always make sure they emphasize a healthy lifestyle through nutrition because if people are eating healthy, then their risk of developing chronic illnesses or diseases in the future is decreased.

One thing that has to be remembered with nutrition is that the Community Health Workers (CHWs) must take the economic and environmental status of the people they are teaching into consideration. A good CHW will tailor their nutrition recommendations based on these factors. 

Nutrition is something that is often ignored when addressing health issues at times. It is important when addressing several health issues. As a community health worker it is important that nutrition is always being addressed. 

– Ashley Mason, IHELP Intern

2021Community Health WorkersInterns

Cultural Competence in Public Health Work

Cultural competence is defined by the CDC as “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations”.

The term “culture” in this sense encompasses the different patterns of human behavior demonstrated in language, thoughts, communications, actions, institutions of race, ethnicity, customs, values, beliefs, traditions, religion, or social groups.

Competence” is having the capacity to effectively work as an individual or as an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs that are demonstrated by the target community. Within the realm of public health, cultural competence can significantly impact how well a program is received and sustained within a community. Public health organizations and officials must be culturally competent and fully aware of the community before implementing any health behaviors.

Understanding the culture of the community you’re working in can be advantageous to containing the spread of diseases, improving sanitation practices, and help communities understand the importance of changed health behaviors. For example, the utilization of gendered roles in a community at risk for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) creates a more efficient approach to community surveillance and treatment in areas lacking proper health infrastructure. Supporting women and men in their cultural gender roles by educating women on how to treat family members, quarantine procedures, and personal protection from transmission can reduce the strain put on a country’s limited hospitals/clinics. Likewise, giving otherwise unemployed young men surveillance and community supply management roles has aided in preventing social conflict by giving them the sense of purpose that their culturally propelled role strives for.

Cultural Competence requires that organizations:
  • Have defined values and principles, and demonstrate attitudes, procedures, behaviors, and structures that enable them to work efficiently cross-culturally. 
  • Have the capacity to value diversity, manage the dynamics of differences within the community, research and implement cultural knowledge, and adapt to cultural situations and contexts of the community they are serving.
  • Have the ability to incorporate all of the above aspects regarding policy-making, practice, service delivery, as well as pass on these abilities to potential stakeholders and employees for future sustainable programs. 

International HELP utilizes different resources as well as thorough research to assess the cultural needs of the communities it targets. Cultural norms, traditions, beliefs, and religious aspects are all taken into consideration when planning a public health outreach within this organization to ensure an effective and sustainable program is implemented.

– Hayley DeHart, IHELP Intern


Cultural Competence. CDC Website. 2015.

Lack of Cultural Competency in International Aid Responses: The Ebola Outbreak in Liberia. Frontiers in Public Health. January 31, 2017;5(5).

Cluster of Ebola Virus Disease Linked to a Single Funeral — Moyamba District, Sierra Leone, 2014. CDC Website. 2016.