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Faith, Work, and Restoration – An Intern Reflection



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Elena Walker

Summer 2021 Development Intern

My time with Blood:Water will forever shape my college experience, time in Nashville, as well as my view on Africa and the humanitarian sector. I have learned a lot about both the field I will be stepping into as well as my own passions and goals for my future career. I am excited to share a little overview here at the end of my time interning for Blood:Water! 

Loving God and Loving Others

Before my time with Blood:Water, I had previously interned for another nonprofit and really enjoyed my time there… but the missing faith aspect was really weighing on my heart. I knew when I stepped into this role that Blood:Water was a faith-based organization, but I was not entirely sure how that would play out in day-to-day work. Now on the other side of my internship experience, I can tell you that I have such respect for the way everyone expresses and incorporates their faith into their everyday lives. 

I recently finished Jena’s book, and at the very end, she details her struggle with labeling Blood:Water as “Christian” and the weight that word often carries. It is something I have often wrestled with in my own life as I have moved away from “religion” and more toward a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. Without actually saying the “churchy” words or even necessarily mentioning God, every Blood:Water employee still demonstrates their love for Jesus daily as they continually put others first, serve the marginalized, and navigate relationships with each other and donors. 


Jena Lee Nardella in Marsabit, Kenya


I have never seen faith lived out so effortlessly in the work setting, which is honestly what has surprised me most over the course of my internship. The bar is definitely set extremely high when it comes to my future job search! I so appreciated being a part of this team and feeling genuinely cared for and invested in as a human being and a professional.

Jerrycan being filled with clean water

Understanding Africa

Blood:Water has helped me to practically witness and analyze some of what I have been studying the past couple of years in college. When applying for this position, I was taking an African Politics class with one of my favorite professors. She did an excellent job of painting the most accurate picture of Africa as she could… which included everything: the triumphs, the joy, the rich history, but also the extreme needs that burden the continent. It’s a wonderfully diverse continent with more nuances than one can count, which is what makes it so beautiful, unique, and oftentimes painful. 

By the end of my first week, while I was reading through emails, it finally hit me that I was communicating with real people with even more real needs. These people who were reaching out to me with requests for support to care for the orphans in their communities, or for the moms who cannot provide clean water for their children to ensure their health, made the extreme and almost overwhelming needs of sub-Saharan Africa become more and more apparent. 

I could easily adopt the hopeless perspective and say, “why does Blood:Water even bother trying? There’s just too much.” But I can’t deny the impact stories of hope and restoration. I can’t deny the thousands upon thousands of people Blood:Water has reached with clean water and HIV/AIDS care over the past near-twenty years of its existence. 

Blood:Water is not only changing lives, they are also setting the standard in how to best go about achieving these lofty goals. After replying to quite a few emails over the course of my internship, I could write you a pretty decent email filled with Blood:Water lingo about the importance of community empowerment and deference to local leadership. Even though the words come more easily now, I don’t want to lose the essential and insightful paradigm behind the particular approach Blood:Water has taken. 

Through my last internship and some personal research and study, I have realized that aid can only be one of three things: life-changing, ineffective, or extremely damaging. The results of intervening with support all depend upon the approach and who is allowed to be the hero of the story. After years of positive results, Blood:Water can show Americans the true efficacy of their let-local-leaders-take-the-front-seat approach, as not just families but entire communities have been transformed

I have realized that aid can only be one of three things: life-changing, ineffective, or extremely damaging.

Elena Walker

I know I would not be happy and will not settle for an organization that does not have some of the same values and missional goals as Blood:Water. Having the opportunity to be a small part of this mission has been an absolute honor, and I will take these principles with me as I step into my career in just a few short months.

Moving Forward

This entire experience has benefited me in so many ways already… and I anticipate that there is a lot I have gained from it that I will not see the effects of until further into my career. The way the Blood:Water team has poured into me and given me opportunities to develop in my leadership, professional skills, and spirituality is something I will be forever grateful for. I am so grateful to the staff for believing in me, supporting me, and for sending me off into the crazy work world with a lot more confidence and knowledge than I had at the beginning of this summer. 

We are so grateful for everything Elena did over the course of her internship with Blood:Water! Please join us in wishing her the best of luck as she finishes up school and begins her career. We know that her generous heart and selfless dedication to serving others will give her the ability to change the world.

We are currently hiring for our Fall 2021-Spring 2022 internships
To read more about them and to apply, check out the link below:


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