Samaritan's Purse sends interns overseas (July 26, 2013)

Written by Craig Macartney

Published by Christian Week on Friday, July 26, 2013

CALGARY, AB—Samaritan's Purse Canada is partnering with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs to send 16 interns to development projects around the world. The interns are spending eight months supporting sustainable agriculture programs and constructing water filtration systems in developing countries.

"Interns have been a large part of the growth of our water program," says Ron Orcajada, a program manager with Samaritan's Purse. "In the past, interns have initiated new projects with us. We are looking for the interns to use their skills to further develop the capacity of our projects."

In June, the interns spent three weeks training at Samaritan's Purse headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, then they split up, travelling to Samaritan's Purse projects in Nicaragua, Uganda, Kenya, Cambodia or Indonesia.

"Water and sanitation issues are very prevalent in a lot of areas. In the project in Kenya access to sanitation is below 30 per cent, so [the interns] are meeting tangible needs," explains Orcajada, adding that Samaritan's Purse water projects have helped over 1,000,000 people access clean water.

Interns working on the water project spent a month helping construct bio-sand filters developed by a Canadian. After familiarizing themselves with the work they also helped train community members and evaluate the program's effectiveness.

"We are not just going in and transferring the technology to a community, we are getting the community really involved so they have a sense of ownership over the project," explains Jessica Oh, one of the interns working in Kenya. "We find that sense of ownership is associated with a high adoption rate of the technology."

Jason Martens, Internship Program Manager says ensuring people have access to safe water contributes to their overall development. He explains that children and parents who become sick from contaminated water are unable to attend school or go to work, trapping them in cycles of poverty.

"We are passionate about the bio-sand water filter because it is a point of use filter that families can have in their homes," says Martens. "It is a low cost, highly effective device and it's something where we can very easily measure the results."

This is the 13th group of interns Samaritan's Purse has sent overseas through Canada's Youth Employment Strategy, which helps students completing post secondary degrees gain skills, knowledge and tools to help them bridge into a career.

Martens explains the government program, "is primarily and investment in the intern and their professional development, but it's also designed for organizations like us to contribute to [international] development work through the expertise and education the interns have."

Ying Mow, another intern working in Kenya says, "what is stretching for me personally is to be able to develop the skills I've been learning about and carry them out in the field. I want to get a sense of what international development is like and see what kind of role I could fulfil [in an international development career]."

Mow says when she returns she hopes to be able to share with those around her how important it is to help others with the things that God has provided.

"As a Christian organization, Samaritan's Purse is passionate about sharing God's love in tangible ways," says Martens, adding that the interns deeply understand their holistic approach. "We want to broaden their worldview and their understanding of the way God works in culture and how to work cross-culturally."

For more on international development projects and the bio-sand filters, visit