“Peace Corps is an organization for which I have a strong personal affinity. The dedication and professionalism of Peace Corps Volunteers in our education system made a great impact on me during my formative years. Since 1962, Peace Corps Volunteers have been great ambassadors to my country and I know they will continue to play a critical role as we write the next chapter in the history of my country.”
During his visit to Peace Corps Headquarters today, President Ernest Bai Koroma of the Republic of Sierra Leone was reunited with Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Sharon Kasper Alvarado. Alvarado served in Sierra Leone from 1964 to 1966 as an education Volunteer and got to know President Koroma’s family and schoolmates. The two had not seen each other for nearly 50 years.
Peace Corps Education Volunteer Jennifer Jiggetts is currently serving in Lesotho, southern Africa and shared this photo of the Peace Corps-inspired manicure she did for Peace Corps Week early this month. We love it!
85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet
6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases
About 66% of Africa is arid or semi-arid and more than 300 of the 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment
Water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for ~70% of global freshwater withdrawals (up to 90% in some fast-growing economies)
Our Volunteers around the world work with local governments, clinics, nongovernmental organizations, and communities at the grassroots level, where the need is most urgent and the impact can be the greatest, focusing on outreach, social and behavior change in public health, hygiene and water sanitation.
"In my small village in Ukraine, The Meeting of Spring is the single largest public celebration held each year around March 1st. Each Street creates a float-type submission and everyone who lives on the street passes through the town before doing a skit on the main stage. In these photos, I’m with my host mother Laryssa and her street neighbors who were dressed as aliens!"
- Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer Jessie Park
Reading is definitely one of the more popular leisure activities for Peace Corps Volunteers. What were some of the books you read during your service? Did you bring home any books from your country? How many times did you read War and Peace during your 27 months overseas?
These kids are from my lowest-level English class. At the beginning of the year they were bored, disinterested and I thought they hated me.
Today they called me up and wanted to see me to give me a gift: a box of apples in honor of women’s day. They were all smiles, and so sweet. They’re not the same kids as they were in September, and I’m not the same person either.
Yesterday I spent six and a half hours in a round table meeting with all possible community partners of the Linguere High School. It started out extremely well - the student government had put together a great (albeit rather dramatic - can a school really be in agony?) presentation about the problems facing the school and what they would like to do to change things. Then community member after community member came up to pledge their association’s support - the gendarmes are giving 100,000 CFA, the Association for the Development of Women is giving a ton of cement, etc. Then this one man comes up and goes, “Well, this is great and all, but why don’t we just have an NGO build us an entirely new school? That’s what they’re there for.”
He’s partly right. There are plenty of NGOs whose sole mission is school construction. But the attitude of “oh, we could do this ourselves but why bother because an NGO could do it for us” is one of the biggest obstacles that we come across in the Peace Corps. Many NGOs here provide resources of the monetary sort, while we are primarily here to work on capacity-building, and a lot of people have trouble understanding that. Not to mention that when a community has the motivation and capabilities to do a project themselves, I have a huge problem with them taking resources from an NGO that could be building a school for a community that has no resources whatsoever. (All of this rant glossing over the fact that the school is supposed to be a governmental project anyways, but the administrations of both the previous and current presidents have done nothing to fix things.)
Luckily, I think those who are most involved with the project, including Ngouille Sec (pictured above) and her sister Jamma, are pretty set on getting things done themselves. If everything goes well, by next October when classes start up for the fall 2013 semester, the high school will have at least two new classrooms. And that will be very inspiring to see.
Seminars - One of the more rewarding parts of being a Teaching English volunteer. Basically, all the English teachers in the region gather together so we can tell them new strategies to apply in the classroom. Surprisingly, many listen.