On December 17, 2010, I swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica after three months of training. Now, on December 7, 2012 I am officially signing the papers and closing my service as a volunteer after (almost) two years of service. Here I am with the four other girls in my training group, three of whom have already closed their service, and the fourth is about to. Below, with Marcela, my first language and culture facilitator during training.
Children stand in front of a local store in a mountainous region of Swaziland—the country with the highest HIV rate in the world. One in every four people is infected with the virus, while everyone in this small country is affected. The children of Swaziland suffer the most, many losing their parents to the epidemic. But the children are also the future, empowered with knowledge and hope that the HIV epidemic can be conquered.
According to statistics, it is likely that at least one of the children in the photo has HIV.
This photo was taken at a Peace Corps-organized HIV/AIDS educational event in Peru last year. My puppy became the mascot by wearing a red ribbon and being sweet with kids and people watching the event.
Taken after a week long training on HIV/AIDS and behavior change communication, this photo features all participants and facilitators, both Peace Corps Volunteers and Filipino counterparts.
Those attending the training organized themselves in the shape of ribbon, with a red glow from the candles and sent a framed copy as a gift of thanks to Jake, the person living with AIDS who gave his testimonial during the training.
Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer Blake Van Fleteren
The LAWRA YOUNGSTERS ASSOCIATION is an organization open to boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 24. The objectives of the Association are to educate youth, improve the community, train youth to become future leaders, to sensitize the youth against diseases such as HIV/AIDS, to organize HIV/AIDS clubs in various schools and to reduce the stigma against HIV/AIDS.
Marching is a long-standing tradition in Ghana since 1957 when Ghana gained its independence. Schools and community service organizations organize their students and members to spiff up in bright new uniforms and freshly polished shoes for competitive marching. The Lawra Youngsters prepared a banner especially for this occasion with the motto “Save Lives - Be Responsible.”
Peace Corps Volunteer Tiffany Saria works with Grassroot Soccer in Zambia, using soccer to teach HIV-prevention. She uses innovative curriculum, games and soccer activities to education youth about HIV transmissions and life skills.
The photo was taken in South Africa at a school where Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts had their permagarden training. People were encouraged to design plots in different shapes to get young people interested in gardening and to use as a teaching aid.
In this one in particular, a message about HIV/AIDS is communicated, that we need vegetables to feed HIV/AIDS infected and affected.
I served in Peace Corps Mozambique from September 2007- November 2009. During my time, I started a community art group within the secondary school, as a branch of JOMA (a Portuguese acronym for “Youth for Change and Action”). JOMA is a nationwide youth development organization started by Peace Corps Volunteers that uses communication mediums at the local level to promote healthy behavior among Mozambican youth, with a mission of social change.
My group in Monapo, Mozambique created over 5 murals in our community to promote awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS. This photo is with Momade Abdul, the group leader, helping create a mural in our local market named, “The fight with AIDS starts with us.”
In this video featured at the Peace Corps World AIDS Day Film Festival in Washington, D.C., on December 1, 2009, Education Volunteer Alison Boland shares how Peace Corps Volunteers in Mongolia combine HIV/AIDS work with sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention education in order to prevent the rising threat of an HIV/AIDS outbreak and to increase the overall awareness of sexual health among Mongolian youth. The video was produced by Alison and Health Volunteer Patrick Olsen.
Students Reading the Truth and Myths About HIV/AIDS
At my primary school in Burkina Faso, I collaborated with the teachers to teach the oldest grade level about the myths and the truth about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and stigma. In the photo students are reading a hand-out before we began the activity.
Peace Corps Volunteer Katia Sirios works with EVE for Life, an organization that offers counseling and advocacy support for HIV-positive women and children. At the organizations drop-in center, women can bring their children to a safe space where they have access to computers, job assistance programs, and counseling.