Nina Yousefzadeh is a clinical pharmacist living in New York. When she was going through school, her friends started calling her "penicillin girl."
"It was one of the first major antibiotics to be discovered," Yousefzadeh told The Huffington Post. "I got the nickname when I graduated pharmacy school, and since then I've liked it."
When it came time to name the nonprofit organization that she'd decided to start, she stuck to her roots and The Penicillin Girl Project was born. Penicillin Girl aims to provide access to medications and nutritional supplements for underserved populations in developing countries -- all the while working with local health care volunteers.
Yousefzadeh said previous volunteer trips to Peru and Honduras kindled her passion for giving back, and she hopes others are inspired to give back as well. To that end, Penicillin Girl will be the subject of a documentary film highlighting the problems that poor access to medicine wreaks on communities.
The organization is headed to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala in late October of this year. Yousefzadeh said that about 15 people will go on the trip, including physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and other volunteers. "We're going to be working in several clinics and providing basic medical care to the indigent population," she said.
"Mayan Families is a huge, very visible and amazing nonprofit," Yousefzadeh said. "They have limited medical experience, so we'll be bringing in that factor -- they're mostly involved in nursery and elderly programs, or helping raise money for families to pay rent. Vivamos Mejor is an organization that works directly with the Ministry of Health in Guatemala, so they'll be coordinating our team and bringing their patients to our clinics."
Starting her own organization wasn't easy, Yousefzadeh explained in a Forbes blog post:
"I had to learn everything: from registering as a non-profit, to creating a logo and a brand, and creating a website from scratch, all with very little money. I had to get people's buy-ins to believe in my cause and donate their time and money. I have had to ask doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists to give up their vacation and time off to volunteer their services for a one-week mission where they would be working long days and in very poor conditions. I have called, emailed, texted, Facebooked every friend and contact in my network and my friends' networks for donations and attendance to my fundraisers."
Yousefzadeh appears to have learned well -- her organization (which has a full board and plans to complete more missions in the future) had previously raised nearly $10,000, and she happily reported that at a New York fundraiser Tuesday night, Penicillin Girl raised an additional $6,000 toward the cost of its October excursion.
For more information, including how to make a donation to Penicillin Girl, please visit the organization's website.