World Water Day 2014: Rain water collection makes a big difference in Mexico

World Water Day Mexico Environmental Protection Agency clean water sustainability community development water resource management Peace Corps Response Peace Corps Volunteers


Armed with laptops, pillows and coffee, University of California Berkeley students gathered on a mid-November weekend for one reason: to hack for the Peace Corps. Working through the night, seven teams battled for $2000 in prize money and, after twenty long hours of work, presented their innovations to a panel of judges. But that weekend, winning wasn’t everything.
This year, Peace Corps sponsored UC Berkeley’s School of Information’s annual hackathon. “Normally at hackathons, people are mostly excited about their own ideas and own pet projects. The enthusiasm people showed for the Peace Corps was very special,” said Seema Puthyapurayil, a veteran hackathon attendee and one of the organizers.

Code for Good: The Peace Corps/UC Berkeley Social Innovation Hackathon

Armed with laptops, pillows and coffee, University of California Berkeley students gathered on a mid-November weekend for one reason: to hack for the Peace Corps. Working through the night, seven teams battled for $2000 in prize money and, after twenty long hours of work, presented their innovations to a panel of judges. But that weekend, winning wasn’t everything.

This year, Peace Corps sponsored UC Berkeley’s School of Information’s annual hackathon. “Normally at hackathons, people are mostly excited about their own ideas and own pet projects. The enthusiasm people showed for the Peace Corps was very special,” said Seema Puthyapurayil, a veteran hackathon attendee and one of the organizers.

Code for Good: The Peace Corps/UC Berkeley Social Innovation Hackathon

technology University of California Berkeley social innovation

postcardsfromethiopia:

One afternoon, I walked into a restaurant near my school to grab some lunch by myself, but instead, I got invited to eat with three police officers! 

Total strangers, but in 15 minutes I knew everyone’s background story (where they worked before Leku, how many siblings they have, which towns they are originally from, etc.) and favorite foods. Not surprisingly, most of them said siga (meat – Ethiopians LOVE meat) and bursame, a Sidama Zone dish, made from the roots of the false banana tree.

They also found out where I am from, what I’m doing here in Ethiopia, which compound I live in - turns out one of them knows who my landlord is, and why I cannot have more than 2 cups of coffee a day. (Sleep would be extremely difficult to achieve, and for me saying ‘I love sleep’ is a huge understatement. Inkilf almat’am!)

This is after we ate a meat+soup dish called k’ilk’il and injera. And of course, we must finish lunch with a cup (or 2) of buna.

I don’t record these things on here enough, but almost every day something unexpected happens, and usually it turns out to be a pleasant twist. You meet someone at a buna bet who becomes your new good friend, or you get invited to eat at a teacher’s home because you saw her while walking on a different route than normal, etc. These moments and people truly humble you, and make you remember to take each day as it comes. Be present, wherever you are.

leku snnpr ethiopia lunch time peace corps life peace corps food fridays reblogs peace corps volunteers

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!

Morocco education youth camp

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.

Read more about the project

nutrition Guatamala global health maternal health healthy eating

What we do in the Peace Corps

rebeccaandwill:

image

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.

peace corps fiji fiji international development peace corps reblogs peace corps volunteers global health


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

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

Uganda global health malaria Africa bed nets