When was the last time you attended a Hack-A-Thon or charged your device using solar energy? Volunteers around the world apply different technologies to engage with their communities. Whether it’s to finish a project or connect back home, with community members, or each other, Volunteers use various social media sites, translation services, and hardware devices to strengthen their connection with the community and the community’s connection to the world.Are you ready to serve? Get started here!

When was the last time you attended a Hack-A-Thon or charged your device using solar energy? Volunteers around the world apply different technologies to engage with their communities. Whether it’s to finish a project or connect back home, with community members, or each other, Volunteers use various social media sites, translation services, and hardware devices to strengthen their connection with the community and the community’s connection to the world.

Are you ready to serve? Get started here!

tech4dev technology community development digital

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

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.

Paraguay Feed the Future nutrition Small Project Assistance USAID community development

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

"I love the ocean and have shared that passion with kids in my community. The potential for tourism and economic development exists here, but a focus on coastal conservation is needed to realize that potential."

Peace Corps Education Volunteer Patrick McGettigan, who recently organized a three-day Ocean Fair in Mozambique to promote coastal conservation

(Source: peacecorps.gov)

education conservation ocean environment tourism economic devlopment travel community development youth development water

"I took this photo of myself with three second grade girls in a village in Guatemala, where my site mate and I worked with the community to build a three-classroom bottle school. These girls helped us collect bottles and fill them with trash. Someday I hope these girls will be able to attend school there." - Peace Corps Health Volunteer Rebecca Dreyfuss

"I took this photo of myself with three second grade girls in a village in Guatemala, where my site mate and I worked with the community to build a three-classroom bottle school. These girls helped us collect bottles and fill them with trash. Someday I hope these girls will be able to attend school there." - Peace Corps Health Volunteer Rebecca Dreyfuss

(Source: collection.peacecorps.gov)

Guatemala education bottle school recycling girls Peace Corps Volunteer schools community development health sanitation

Did you know March is National Reading Month?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?

Did you know March is National Reading Month?

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?

National Reading Month books literacy Peace Corps Volunteers guinea youth education community development teachers students TEFL TESOL Africa Peace Corps Digital Library

onyva:

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.

onyva:

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.

Senegal Africa education inspiring women NGOs development work host country nationals community development capacity building schools student government classroom challenges Peace Corps Volunteers

Fighting AIDS with Art   

I served in Peace Corps Mozambique from September 2007- November 2009. During my time, I started a community art group within the secondary school, as a branch of JOMA (a Portuguese acronym for “Youth for Change and Action”). JOMA is a nationwide youth development organization started by Peace Corps Volunteers that uses communication mediums at the local level to promote healthy behavior among Mozambican youth, with a mission of social change.
My group in Monapo, Mozambique created over 5 murals in our community to promote awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS. This photo is with Momade Abdul, the group leader, helping create a mural in our local market named, “The fight with AIDS starts with us.”

Peace Corps Education Volunteer Nia Chauvin 

Fighting AIDS with Art   

I served in Peace Corps Mozambique from September 2007- November 2009. During my time, I started a community art group within the secondary school, as a branch of JOMA (a Portuguese acronym for “Youth for Change and Action”). JOMA is a nationwide youth development organization started by Peace Corps Volunteers that uses communication mediums at the local level to promote healthy behavior among Mozambican youth, with a mission of social change.

My group in Monapo, Mozambique created over 5 murals in our community to promote awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS. This photo is with Momade Abdul, the group leader, helping create a mural in our local market named, “The fight with AIDS starts with us.”

Peace Corps Education Volunteer Nia Chauvin 

Mozambique Africa education community development art youth youth development social change HIV AIDS World AIDS Day


My husband, Ben, and I were Volunteers in the rural village of Mokuruanyane, South Africa from 2007-2009. I was a Community & HIV/AIDS Outreach Project Volunteer and Ben was an Education Volunteer.
My primary project was working with four women educators to develop Chrysalis Girls Club, an after-school girls empowerment program for the 75 7th grade girls in our village. In the 2008 school year, six weeks of our program were devoted to women’s reproductive health, sex education, and HIV/AIDS awareness & prevention. The girls designed an HIV/AIDS mural, and Ben worked with five male students from the secondary school to sketch the mural onto the wall of Abbotspoort Higher Primary School.
While I worked with the women educators to provide HIV/AIDS education, Ben supervised the girls in painting the mural. Ben took this photo in November 2008, at the end of our first successful year of Chrysalis Girls Club. The mural faces the main road that runs through Mokuruanyane.

Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer Susia Barr-Wilson

My husband, Ben, and I were Volunteers in the rural village of Mokuruanyane, South Africa from 2007-2009. I was a Community & HIV/AIDS Outreach Project Volunteer and Ben was an Education Volunteer.

My primary project was working with four women educators to develop Chrysalis Girls Club, an after-school girls empowerment program for the 75 7th grade girls in our village. In the 2008 school year, six weeks of our program were devoted to women’s reproductive health, sex education, and HIV/AIDS awareness & prevention. The girls designed an HIV/AIDS mural, and Ben worked with five male students from the secondary school to sketch the mural onto the wall of Abbotspoort Higher Primary School.

While I worked with the women educators to provide HIV/AIDS education, Ben supervised the girls in painting the mural. Ben took this photo in November 2008, at the end of our first successful year of Chrysalis Girls Club. The mural faces the main road that runs through Mokuruanyane.

Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer Susia Barr-Wilson

(Source: peacecorps.gov)

World AIDS Day Peace Corps Africa South Africa community development youth art HIV AIDS education health

Peace Corps Volunteers Lead Gender Equality Discussion in Azerbaijan

“The goal of the presentations was to promote social awareness as well as critical thinking in local community members,” said Wiersma, a graduate of Liberty University who has been living and working in Azerbaijan since September 2011. “We want to get the young members of rural Azerbaijan to start thinking outside of their daily scope of how men and women are seen and valued in Azerbaijan and move into what is possible for the future of their country.”

Azerbaijan gender equality education community development Peace Corps Volunteers gender women's rights social awareness culture