Some people start their mornings with coffee

emilybecker01:

I woke up this morning at the normal time to which I allow myself to sleep when I don’t have to teach in the morning, around 8 a.m.

By this time, all the students are already at school, which means, for a few moments, my neighborhood is relatively quiet.

This morning, though, as I was in my kitchen heating up water for tea, I heard people outside my neighbor’s house. She’s a nice lady and makes her living usually by being a tailor. In the past few months, she’s also started selling the local moonshine out of her house. For 100 CFA, men come by, take a shot of sodabe and then ride off on their motorcycles, rarely staying more than 5 minutes. One of my favorite nighttime activities is to sit on my front porch and watch how many of the men who stop by I recognize, either as colleagues or the father of one of my students.

When I came back from vacation three days ago, a small hut with benches and tables had been erected outside her house, I guessed in an effort to expand her business, at least expand it out of her living room. And business has expanded, the area outside my front door becoming less like a front porch and more like the street outside a bar, but besides moto horns and loud voices, there haven’t been any real complaints.

And so, this morning, as I sipped my Harney & Son’s Tower of London tea, I silently toasted the men taking shots of sodabe next door at 8:30 in the morning. 

Peace Corps volunteer Benin Africa mornings moonshine peace corps reblogs


The Peace Corps is excited to be a partner of Saving Mothers, Giving Life. We are particularly proud of the contributions Peace Corps Volunteers have made at the community level to promote the importance of essential maternal health services, and we are thrilled to continue our collaboration to aggressively reduce maternal mortality. - Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet

Saving Mothers’ first Annual Report, Making Pregnancy and Childbirth Safe in Uganda and Zambia, demonstrates rapid progress towards reducing maternal mortality ratios in eight pilot districts.
In Uganda districts, the maternal mortality ratio has declined by 30%, while in facilities in Zambia, the maternal mortality ratio has decreased by 35%. The Report showcases the activities that have helped contribute to these gains, including:
Increasing the number of women delivering in health facilities by 62% and 35% in Uganda and Zambia, respectively
Enhancing women’s access to Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care, by hiring and training skilled birth attendants;
Strengthening transportation and communications networks among communities and facilities, in addition to strengthening the supply chain for life-saving medicines and commodities; and
Expanding testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS for women and their newborns.

Download the full report

The Peace Corps is excited to be a partner of Saving Mothers, Giving Life. We are particularly proud of the contributions Peace Corps Volunteers have made at the community level to promote the importance of essential maternal health services, and we are thrilled to continue our collaboration to aggressively reduce maternal mortality. - Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet

Saving Mothers’ first Annual Report, Making Pregnancy and Childbirth Safe in Uganda and Zambia, demonstrates rapid progress towards reducing maternal mortality ratios in eight pilot districts.

In Uganda districts, the maternal mortality ratio has declined by 30%, while in facilities in Zambia, the maternal mortality ratio has decreased by 35%. The Report showcases the activities that have helped contribute to these gains, including:

  • Increasing the number of women delivering in health facilities by 62% and 35% in Uganda and Zambia, respectively
  • Enhancing women’s access to Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care, by hiring and training skilled birth attendants;
  • Strengthening transportation and communications networks among communities and facilities, in addition to strengthening the supply chain for life-saving medicines and commodities; and
  • Expanding testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS for women and their newborns.

Download the full report

maternal health global health Africa women HIV AIDS maternal mortality Zambia Uganda USAID


In Kenya’s rural communities the word “single” before mother turns something cherished into a burden. Most single mothers struggle to earn money, live far below the poverty line, and are often treated as pariahs in their communities. Despite these significant challenges, providing and caring for their children is their top priority. Peace Corps Volunteer, Teneasha Pierson, shares her thoughts after leading a malaria prevention training with the Elewana Education Project in Western Kenya.

Stomping Out Malaria Weekly Awesome in Kenya: Single Mothers Training

In Kenya’s rural communities the word “single” before mother turns something cherished into a burden. Most single mothers struggle to earn money, live far below the poverty line, and are often treated as pariahs in their communities. Despite these significant challenges, providing and caring for their children is their top priority. Peace Corps Volunteer, Teneasha Pierson, shares her thoughts after leading a malaria prevention training with the Elewana Education Project in Western Kenya.

Stomping Out Malaria Weekly Awesome in Kenya: Single Mothers Training

maternal health global health Africa Kenya gender issues motherhood

Peace Corps Volunteer Emily McKeone is working with her community members and local school teachers to bring safe, clean drinking water to three schools in Zambia to improve students’ health and boost school attendance. People in the communities currently travel long distances to get water that frequently comes from unprotected sources like local streams, which often leads to water-borne illnesses and sanitation concerns at school facilities.

By constructing borehole wells, the community’s water sources will be protected from contaminants and safe to drink. The additional water supply will also support school construction projects and enable students and teachers to plant gardens and orchards. The resulting produce will help raise money to maintain the boreholes.

“School attendance by students and teachers will improve from enhanced sanitation and clean drinking water,” said McKeone, who is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has been living and working in Zambia since July 2012. “The schools currently have construction projects that have been delayed due to a lack of water, preventing completion of much needed classrooms, and these boreholes will allow for the completion of those projects.”

(Source: 1.usa.gov)

Zambia water education gender issues Africa global health clean water sanitation

Ter is the first to point out that his story is only partially about him, and equally about the many friends and ‘family’ members who have adopted him – and whom he has adopted – throughout his unlikely global odyssey, from northwest Kenya to sunny Florida to the cold mountains of Azerbaijan and back to academia in Boston.

It is a story of kindness. And it is the story, in its elemental sense, of thanksgiving.

I’m not crying, YOU ARE!

(Source: bit.ly)

Sudan Africa Kenya University of Florida azerbaijan inspriational The Christian Science Monitor

In developing nations, a relatively simple footbridge can make the difference between getting an education and staying at home, between receiving health care and being sick. 

Peace Corps Response Volunteer Nate Bloss has been working with Bridging the Gap Africa as a project supervisor in Kenyan communities where people and economies are affected by the ability to cross waterways safely.

Check out these pictures from the “walking world” – and see how a bridge can make all the difference.

Kenya Africa Bridging the Gap Africa international development bridges

"I think their favorite part of the tour though was playing on the beach because many of them had never seen the ocean before.”

A group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Namibia recently came together in collaboration with a local nonprofit organization to lead a week-long educational tour of the country for 40 at-risk youth. The tour is an annual initiative led by Peace Corps Namibia’s diversity committee aimed at providing orphans and marginalized youth — many of whom have never traveled outside of their own community — with the opportunity to explore Namibia, develop a respect and appreciation for other local cultures, and build healthy lifestyle and leadership skills. 

(Source: peacecorps.gov)

Africa Namibia at-risk youth diversity culture health leadership travel

No Sex for Fish - Redefining Gender Relationships in Lake Victoria, Kenya

Women living along the shores of Lake Victoria whose livelihood depends on trading fresh fish are exceptionally vulnerable to contracting HIV. In order to acquire fresh fish daily, the women are often pressured into having sex with the fishermen who supply the fish. It is not uncommon for the fishermen to maintain several such relationships simultaneously with women at different beaches where they land with their fish. As such, women fish traders are extremely susceptible to contracting HIV.

A couple of years ago, two Peace Corps Volunteers – Dominik Mucklow (an Education Volunteer, 2009-11) and Michael Geilhufe (a Community Economic Development Volunteer, 2010-12) – who lived near Lake Victoria decided to do something to help these women. With support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), they assisted a group of women fish traders to acquire their own fishing boats. The women then employed men to go fishing using these boats. This simple advancement allowed the women to be free from sexual exploitation in order to secure their fish supply.

A third Volunteer, Samantha Slater (a Community Economic Development Volunteer, 2011-13) just completed her service. Samantha dedicated her work to helping the women with the business aspects of operating the boats and their fish trade. The women have since obtained additional loans to purchase new nets or replace damaged nets. They were also taught how to keep sound financial records and manage the business well enough to be able to pay back their loans in a timely way. Recently-arrived Volunteer Lori Armstrong will continue working on good business practices with the women. The work that these volunteers initiated has generated significant interest in development circles, and there is now a clear push to expand this “No Sex For Fish” initiative to other beaches along Lake Victoria. With additional support, this simple initiative promises to completely re-write the gender relationships that rule Lake Victoria’s fishing industry today.

(Source: blog.aids.gov)

AIDS gender sexual exploitation PEPFAR Africa Kenya Lake Victoria community development economic development fishing global health small business development women