Intern Spotlight: Ball State student uses internship opportunity to help provide access to clean water

<p>Josh Heideman installs the water filtration system in the Dominican Republic. <strong>Josh Heideman, Photo Provided</strong></p>

Josh Heideman installs the water filtration system in the Dominican Republic. Josh Heideman, Photo Provided

Editor's note: Intern Spotlight is a Ball State Daily News series profiling Ball State students and their internships. If you have any suggestions as to who we should feature next, send an email to  

While some students crave an opportunity to test their newly-learned skills, Josh Heideman, a senior elementary education major, has a different vision: saving lives in third-world countries. 

Through a six-month-long fundraising stunt for his internship, Heideman Raised $4,000 that went toward providing 100 filters, allowing 100 families in the Dominican Republic to have access to clean drinking water for up to ten years. 

Heideman learned about the faith-based nonprofit organization Filter of Hope, which works to provide clean drinking water while sharing the gospel, by participating in Campus Cru, a religious organization at Ball State.

Impressed by the organization and inspired by their goal, Heideman decided to pursue an internship with Filter of Hope.

“I liked that [Filter of Hope] positively affects a hurting world in a real and tangible way,” Heidman said.

Heideman said learning that 800 million people in the world don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water and that 4,000 children die every day because of unclean drinking water shocked him and further motivated him to apply for the internship.

“A large demographic of people who don’t have access to a basic necessity of life … that’s why I’m passionate about it,” Heideman said.

Interns at Filter of Hope have the opportunity to visit one of the seven countries the organization sends filters to, but first they must do fundraising. For the trip to be free for interns, at least $2,200 must be raised, but the organization asks that they raise $4,000.

From June to November, Heideman reached out to local churches and organizations and also hosted social media campaigns, sent letters and made presentations to businesses in order to meet his goal of $4,000. 

“Josh was incredibly dedicated. He told me during his very first training call that he was going to do whatever it takes to raise all $4,000,” said Don Johnson, director of sales and partnerships at Filter of Hope. 

“A lot of times, interns will raise just enough money for their trip to be free and then they’ll stop," Johnson said. "Josh understood that what he was really doing was not going on a trip, but providing as many people as he could with clean water.”

Johnson said Heideman set the record for most individual donors and has “demonstrated more persistence than any other intern.”

In December, Heideman traveled to the Dominican Republic to give out filters and show people how to use and maintain them through basic hygiene training sessions. 

When first demonstrating how the filter works, Heideman had to drink the water to prove it was safe.

“Everyone didn’t react with this awestruck wonderment. We saw a lot of confusion because in the filter, you can put dirty water, any type of water quality — even with waterborne illness and cholera — and the water comes out just as clean as American tap water,” Heideman said. “For a lot of people, they’re confused. Some older people didn’t even trust it at first.”

During the trip, Heideman said he was impacted by the experiences he had and the people he met. 

“I’ve volunteered in impoverished areas around the United States, but it’s a whole different thing to go to a third-world country and see people who are barely putting food on the table, families with one set of clothing and people without clean drinking water,” he said.

Although Heideman has returned to Indiana, he plans to continue the work he started through his internship by working in nonprofit management after he finishes graduate school.

“People live the most fulfilling life when they are seeking to serve other people. Those who are successful are the ones who care about others,” Heideman said. “It wasn’t about me, it was never about me, but always about the people I was serving in the back of my head. That’s what fueled my passion and that’s what made this different.”

Contact Melissa Kraman with comments at or on Twitter @missy_kraman