Peace Corps Volunteer Helps Build Bridge for Communities in Suriname

Peace Corps volunteer Jessica Schmitt is working with 20 local community members in two neighboring Surinamese villages to construct a pedestrian bridge. The bridge will provide access to the local school, medical clinic, store, and the nearby villages. A portion of the funds for the project are being raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), a program that supports Peace Corps Volunteer community projects worldwide.

“There are many close family ties that exist between these villages,” said Schmitt, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has been working as a youth business educator Volunteer since 2010. “This path serves as a major highway for the men, women, and children both day and night. However, the path is currently obstructed by a large creek that often becomes impassable during the rainy season here in Suriname.”

 To connect the two villages, the community has been using a log as a makeshift bridge. “This solution is neither safe nor permanent,” said Schmitt. “The path remains a safety hazard for the community members traveling to the doctor, visiting their families, picking up flour at the local store and for children traveling to school.” Community members from the surrounding villages have donated wood, sand, gravel, and housing for the bridge contractors. However, due to the low income of the communities, they are still unable to meet all of the costs necessary for the bridge’s construction.

In order to receive funding through the PCPP, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the total project and outline success indicators for the individual projects. This helps ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability. One hundred percent of each tax-deductible PCPP donation goes toward a development project. Those interested in supporting Schmitt’s project in Suriname can visit and search for project number is 568-134.