Ethiopia - 1973
Ethiopia - 1973
Peace Corps Volunteers in Morocco held a Spring Camp for girls and boys. The camp focused on a different theme each day: Gender, Health, Environment, World of Work, and American Culture. Campers made environment collages, practiced public speaking, hiked, and shared about their long term goals. By the end of the week, the group of boys and girls that started out shy and unsure were confident and inspired, celebrating their shared experience and excited for the future!
Peace Corps Volunteer Kate Young is spearheading a school nutrition project to address malnutrition in her Guatemalan community by educating preschool students and their parents on long-term healthy eating habits.
Young, who has been working as a municipal development advisor in Guatemala since 2010, was inspired to pursue the project after coordinating a basic health examination for children at her local preschool.
“I made an appointment with the community hospital for the health nurses to weigh, measure and examine all of the students,” said Young, a graduate of Rutgers University. “Of those examined, 54 percent were malnourished.”
Working with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and the local government, Young has planted vegetable gardens on the school’s grounds and trained the children’s mothers in gardening, harvesting crops, nutrition and cooking. Young has also helped the mothers plant family gardens at their homes.
We are community health empowerment facilitators implementing goals laid out in the Community Health Empowerment Project strategic framework.
We are not clinicians, but we are here to do capacity building and behavior change among the clinicians, the local health volunteers, and the villagers. (A communications plan to complement the strategic plan would go far in aiding this mission, and I’ve already expressed the value of having one. We’ll see if this develops during the next two years.)
So now that I got those buzzwords in (strategic framework, capacity building, behavior change), let me break it down for you. Fiji’s Ministry of Health is doing what it can to reverse what is essentially a non-communicable disease (NCD) “crisis” in this country of nearly 900,000. With one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world:
- One in three Fijians has diabetes
- An amputation occurs every 12.6 hours in Fiji
- Only 16 percent of Fijians live past 55 years old
Of course treating the NCDs is critical, but the ministry recognizes that educating the public about their behaviors will go along way in improving these deadly statistics.
That’s where we come in. We are working with the ministry to educate Fijians about what they can do to avoid NCDs: physical activity, healthy food choices, go to the doctor early instead of ignoring symptoms. We are working to build their capacity so that they have the knowledge to live healthy lives, and to teach their children about living healthy, long after we leave Fiji.
Will and I are in a unique situation with an open field of development opportunities because we’re in a remote region that hasn’t had Peace Corps volunteers since the 70s, and those were education volunteers. We’re at the subdivisional level, which operates a hospital, a health center, a health inspector’s office, a dentist’s office, a maternal child health clinic, and multiple nursing stations throughout six islands. We have the opportunity to educate Fijians about:
- NCD prevention
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Sanitation and hygiene
- Women’s empowerment
- Maternal-child health
So far we’ve given health talks to villagers and trained health workers about practices for women’s self-care and diabetes and hypertension prevention. Our subdivision is in the process of developing its business plan for the upcoming year, so things are a bit slow now. This gives us an opportunity to get to know our community and establish a relationship with the villagers, so they feel comfortable with us and trust us as we move forward together during these next two years.
This picture, taken in April 2013 in Uganda, shows villagers registering for long-lasting, insecticide-treated malaria bed nets. The SPA grant-funded project, called “No More Malaria!: Village Drama Outreach, Podcasting and Programming for World Malaria Month 2013,” was led by returned Volunteer Chelsea Milko in partnership with her host organization, Radio Pacis.
The project empowered 2,500 people in four rural West Nile villages with a life-saving malaria prevention information presented in the form of a live-acted Lugbara language drama, malaria bed net repair races, malaria jeopardy games, selection of malaria ambassadors and distribution of 450 nets. In addition, an English-language recorded version of the drama was distributed to all Peace Corps Uganda Volunteers and played on nine radio stations reaching 12 million listeners across Uganda and parts of DRC and South Sudan. Chelsea also delivered malaria sessions to 50 radio presenters and journalists about malaria behavior change programming.
- Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer Chelsea Milko
I am a woman.
I am strong.
I will be educated.
I will be heard.
I will lead.
I will make my presence felt.
I am the author of my own fate.
I deserve respect.
Turning awareness into action, and hoping to create a lasting message about gender equity in her community, a Peace Corps Volunteer used a screening to recruit volunteers to paint a community mural to celebrate International Women’s Day and in support of gender equity in Nepal. The Dhaulagiri Prabidhik Shikshya Pratishthan (a technical medical school in Baglung Bazar) donated their street facing wall for the mural and on it was painted an image of a Nepali woman with Nepali text translated above.
Comment: iamsidibe said “Photo of a photo taken at my mother’s Peace Corps host village in Senegal. My mother lived in Senegal for four years where she built a school, dug wells, planted trees, and well, made me. Earlier this year, I visited her village family and they showed me this picture. Life had come full circle.
#tbt #senegal #babel #peacecorps #villagelife #henna #impact #touch #memories #myheartisinafrica”
RPCVs Sean and McKinze Cook (Georgia 2010-2012) always wanted to start their own business, but had no idea what it would be — until they were noshing on some of their host community’s cuisine. “One day near the end of our service, while brainstorming what life after Peace Corps could look like, our host mother called us in for an afternoon snack of khachapuri. As she buttered and sliced the gooey, cheesy, delicious bread, we knew we had to find a way to introduce it to Americans.”
In early 2013 Sean and McKinze opened Kargi Gogo, a food cart in Portland, Ore., that serves authentic Georgian street food.
This photo was taken on the island of Grenada. This photograph is from Grenada's inaugural Camp G.L.O.W. (Girls Leading Our World) 2012. The mornings began with outdoor yoga. In this photo two campers are working together to achieve a partner pose.
- Peace Corps Education Volunteer Katie Moran
I have been working with these kids for about a year, they came in barely knowing how to strum, some not even that. Nowadays, they pick up songs and rhythmic patters in a heartbeat. They are some of the most rewarding kids I have had the privilege to work with. Yet, they have no idea how big of an impact they have on my life.
At the community center Mita Rory, a place that supports 180 families giving homework help, family support, and regular beneficial presentations, a group of 12 women work together to help run the community center and to improve their community. One of their projects is a soup kitchen that provides lunch three times a week to approximately 400 children of the community. The women work together voluntarily using local government donations in order to cook and provide meals to these hungry children. Every three months, the community center is provided with food donations, which are supposed to last them until the supplies are replenished. Unfortunately, due to the poor conditions of the kitchen, food donations are always spoiled or ruined, preventing the soup kitchen to provide meals to children.
The kitchen at Mita Rory was, essentially, a rotting wooden shack that constantly leaked from rain and became home to dozens of rats. Due to water damage and hungry rodents, the food would become unusable, and the lunch program would be suspended until new fresh food was supplied again, leaving hundreds of hungry children that depend on this program. The women cooked what usable food they had inside this shack by burning wood or carbon, causing a cloud of smoke in the room affecting their health as smoke filled their lungs and stung their eyes. It became clear to the 12 women in charge that rat traps and patching holes in the roof was not the solution and that, if they wanted to continue the soup kitchen, they needed to improve their infrastructure.
Every week, the women met to devise a plan as to how to gain the funds to improve their kitchen. For months they tried soliciting help from the local government, but were denied. Eventually hope came from a local NGO donation, which provided the community center with new kitchen equipment. The community center now had pots, pans, plates, cups, and tables but where still left with the wooden shack. With a little more insistence from the women, the community center was provided with a new refrigerator and a large oven that would eventually be used in cooking/confectionary courses for community members, in order to provide new work skills and generate income. Still, the women were left with their wooden shack, and were in fear of installing their new equipment for it would surely be destroyed from the leaks (maybe even the rats). Exhausting all resources, it was finally time to take advantage of outside resources and apply for a Small Project Assistance (SPA) grant through Peace Corps-Paraguay.
The community center was awarded with approximately $2,600 to be used for construction and was put to use right away. Community members came together to tear down the old shack piece by piece, saving any materials that could be used again. The women worked together to help monitor expenditures and evaluate the construction’s progress as they proudly witnessed their dream slowly coming true. As they realized that more money would be needed to finish the building, they set up their new oven and began cooking for a bake sale in order to gain the extra funds needed.
Soon enough, the building was put together and the tables were placed in order to serve its first lunch on “Día del Niño” or Children’s Day. Here, 500 people were able to come together in the newly built room, to have their first sit down lunch as they appropriately celebrated Children’s Day, marking the first of many lunches in the building.
No one knows better than Peace Corps Volunteers that long-held norms and beliefs about gender can constrain female students, women’s cooperative members or female farmers – not to mention wives and mothers – from participating fully in their country’s development. In spite of the fact that women and girls are an important part of development, challenges to realizing gender equality remain 39 years after the United Nations proclaimed International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, 1975, and which we celebrate this Saturday. Every day Volunteers are inspired by their female community members as they take small steps to get their fair share of education, information and decision-making.