“Having an intellectual disability remains a stigma in Armenia and there is a misunderstanding among the general community of what having a disability means.”

Peace Corps Volunteers in Armenia are collaborating with local non-governmental organizations to help communities create inclusive environments for children and adults with disabilities. The Volunteers are implementing programs that will enhance the capacity of parents, teachers and families in Armenia to care for and support loved ones with disabilities and foster a more inclusive environment.

Read more about their work

Armenia disability discrimination inclusivity Peace Corps Volunteers

Testing Positive

brookeinmoz:

My day begins between 6 and 6:30am, just as the women in my area begin sweeping their yards with tethered bundles of sticks and the booming bass of music begins blaring from houses near and far. Instead of the call of roosters I hear donkeys and the rumble of semi trucks as they make their way down the main ‘estrada’ that cuts through Changara. I boil water for coffee, sweep the house and veranda, take a bucket bath and am off to work around 7:50am. Towards the end of August I began my work at the hospital, and now make my way to the HIV/AIDS ward, or ATS (Acontecimiento e Testagem de Saúde), where we test and counsel patients. 

HIV/AIDS is a very real and ever growing issue here. Of the 1.6 million people living in Mozambique, about one-third are living with HIV/AIDS, more than 90,000 of them are children under the age of 15. Of this one-third living with HIV/AIDS, 5% (roughly 26,600 people) live in Tete Province. But the numbers, data and facts never prepared me for my first week in the hospital and before I knew it, in the midst of the life altering moments of complete strangers, I was having my own life altering moments. I arrived at the ATS ward and wandered into a room where our activists and counselors were preparing for the day in the field, putting together their backpacks of HIV tests, cotton swabs and paperwork. I said my greetings and I sat quietly in the corner waiting for someone to ask me to do something. Eventually everyone left and still unsure of what I was supposed to be doing, I continued to sit and wait. After about a half an hour our counselor appeared in the doorway with an older woman, frail and weathered looking. I quickly realized this was a patient and I asked if should leave, but she insists, “No, stay! Stay!”. The patient sits next to me, coughing and groaning. They’re speaking Nyungue, the local Bantu language, so I understand none of what’s being said but watch as our counselor puts on rubber gloves and points to the various posters on the wall that illustrate how HIV attacks the human body.

I’m going to watch this woman test for HIV.

I observe as her finger is pricked, her blood is tested, and two little red lines appear on the testing strip.

She’s positive.

I’ve never seen anyone tested for HIV, let alone test positive. This is such a life changing moment, all I want to do is leave the room. I don’t belong here and I can’t imagine that this woman appreciates having a strange white woman sitting next to her during such an intimate moment. The counselor slips out of the room, leaving us in the room together side-by-side. I don’t know where to look or if I should say something to console her, but I hear a sniffling, look over, and realize she’s weeping into her hands. I can feel my face getting hot and the pressure building in my chest as I choke back tears. Not before long our counselor arrives, fills out paperwork and sends the patient on her way. Before I can process what just happened or get my stuff together to get out of that room, she’s escorting in a mother and two little girls, each clutching a Hannah Montana purse and fried sweet bread. They’re each tested in just the same way. One of the little girls tests positive. I watch her swing her feet and munch innocently on her bread as her mom receives the news, knowing this little girls life just changed forever. She can’t be more than 11 years old. But they seem fine, laughing even. They leave and I can hear more laughter and music coming from the main entrance.

I ask our counselor if this work is hard for her, doesn’t she want to cry, too? She replies with a snort and a smile and says, “Nada”. I’m not sure if they’re laughing to cover up for grief and nervousness or if discovering you’re HIV+ is so common it’s not worth tears, but one thing is clear: my own perception of HIV/AIDS is very much different than theirs. On one hand this is extremely frustrating, how can they act so nonchalant about something so serious? On the other hand this is comforting, they know their status, can begin treatment and continue with their lives.

Our next patient to enter is a young woman with her two year old tied to her back. The baby just tested positive in pediatrics and the mother wants a test as well. The baby’s cooing and the mother adjusts her capulana as they wait for the test results. I watch as two little red lines appear on her test strip.

She’s tested positive, too.

It’s not even 1:00pm yet. 

hiv positive global health aids tw: illness reblogs Peace Corps Volunteers

cardamomandrice:

The Raute are Nepal’s last remaining nomadic tribe. There are only an estimated 650 of them in the country,140 of whom live in the jungle about an hour or so from my town. Our District Forest Department gives them a small stipend of 2,000 rupees (about $20) to manage wild fires in the forest. The other day, the tribe leaders came to the forestry office to collect their money and my supervisor at the district health office took the opportunity to try to give them some insecticide treated mosquito nets. Never having seen one before, the Raute leaders were pretty skeptical of the benefits, so my supervisor held a little meeting inside one to help persuade them. 

nepal raute malaria bednets health peacecorps Peace Corps Volunteers reblog

“I’m working with the NGO to help local communities understand and benefit from living in a Biosphere Reserve. The Biosphere Reserve designation allows the Ethiopian government to protect and raise awareness around the area, which contains some of the last remaining forests in the country and has become seriously threatened as the population grows.”

Peace Corps Volunteer Promotes Forest Conservation and Income Generation in Ethiopian Community

Ethiopia environment conservation forestry Peace Corps Volunteers


To help address the environmental and health problems caused by cooking on firewood and charcoal, a group of dedicated doñas (this is a respectful reference to older women) and I decided to build improved cookstoves in my community. These stoves have an enclosed cooking chamber that burns firewood more efficiently than cooking out in the open. The fire inside the stove heats up two hot plates, so Dominican women can still cook their daily pots of rice and beans, but unlike an open fire, these stoves have chimneys that take smoke away from the cook. 
Also, the improved cookstoves reduce the use of charcoal by rural families, because the stoves work best when dry firewood is used. Less charcoal use means that more trees in my community can remain standing! 
- Peace Corps Community Economic Development Volunteer Courtney Columbus on the EPA blog

To help address the environmental and health problems caused by cooking on firewood and charcoal, a group of dedicated doñas (this is a respectful reference to older women) and I decided to build improved cookstoves in my community. These stoves have an enclosed cooking chamber that burns firewood more efficiently than cooking out in the open. The fire inside the stove heats up two hot plates, so Dominican women can still cook their daily pots of rice and beans, but unlike an open fire, these stoves have chimneys that take smoke away from the cook.

Also, the improved cookstoves reduce the use of charcoal by rural families, because the stoves work best when dry firewood is used. Less charcoal use means that more trees in my community can remain standing!

- Peace Corps Community Economic Development Volunteer Courtney Columbus on the EPA blog

dominican republic climate change environmental awareness cookstoves community economic development Peace Corps Volunteers Environmental Protection Agency EPA

Five Peace Corps Volunteers completed the first Tigray Trek in 2013 and educated nearly 530 community members in nine villages along the way. Their success and local community support led the Volunteers to organize this year’s trek, which has grown to include 15 additional runners and 12 additional volunteers to help lead educational sessions. 

Read more about it

Ethiopia global health AIDS running Peace Corps Volunteers

All moved in!

jtlunar:

Wow, so its been over a month since i last updated you on my life here in China and SO much has happened since!

So, since my last post i have…

Been a brides maid in a Chinese wedding.

Had many nights of singing karaoke with my friends at our training site.

Learned how to play Mahjong (an extremely popular Chinese game).

Climbed up a famous mountain outside of Chengdu. Four hours up and two hours down.

Grew very close to the 20 people at my training site.

Watch my host family go to America for two weeks.

Ate pizza which did not compare to American pizza in the slightest.

Went ice skating with my host cousin.

Found out and visited my permanent site placement in Tongren, Guizhou, China. 

Met my counterpart; a Chinese English teacher who is a colleague, friend, and support system here for me for the next two years.

Depart my host families house in Chengdu to meet up with the rest of the volunteers for four days in a hotel of more training before our departure to site.

Found out my Chinese language level. Novice-Mid which is what i expected and am happy with but Peace Corps was hoping we get Novice high, one step up.

Swore in as an official Peace Corps China Volunteer

Said many hard goodbyes to close friend, some of whom i wont see for several months. That probably doesn’t sound that bad but when you are forced to see 20 people every single day and go through something so foreign to us all for two months you grow incredibly close.

Got sick the night before my departure to Tongren. I’m pretty sure it was food poisoning and was hooked up to an IV for the day to hydrate me from the continuous throwing up that happened the night before. 

Took the 12 hour train ride from Chengdu to Tongren.

Tongren, i am here for good now! ive moved everything into my new apartment, which is actually very very old. I feel like i am living in a log cabin on the inside. So to give you a tour of my new home, as you walk through the front door there is the kitchen table to the right, bathroom straight ahead which is basically i closet with a shower head, a hole in the ground for my toilet (squatter), a mirror and a hose that is used to fill the manual washing machine that sits right outside the bathroom door. I have a small kitchen with the only sink in the house. i have a little stove top, a rice cooker, and a water heater in there as well. Next is the living room with a couch that probably 100 years old so i am in the process of getting a couch cover so i can sit down. then there are two rooms, one i keep closed because it has a bunch of junk stored in there either from previous volunteers or the home owner. Room number two is my bedroom consisting of a bed, closet, mirror and a few shelves. I have one set of windows at the front of my apartment and they are always kept open.

I arrived here Sunday night and that is when i found out my teaching schedule. I would be teaching that Tuesday and have 6 classes a week. The college classes here in China consist of two 45 minute periods with a ten minutes break in between. I have three classes of sophomores and 3 classes of freshman with Mondays off. The freshman in China start about a month later than the rest of the college because they go to military training which pretty much just prepares mentally prepares them for life in college. They do wear camo though. So as of now i only have 3 classes to worry about. 

Tuesday i had class at 8am and i was extremely nervous! I prepared some introduction activities so that the class could get to know me and i could get to know them. After starting class and the students giving me strange looks i realized they could barely understand me. i laer learned through the activities that this class is at a very low level of English. One activity took basically the whole class and the other activity i had to ditch because there is no way they would be able to understand the directions. The class had almost 50 students so it was hard to keep them quite especially when other students were speaking. Wednesday was my second class, i think i was more nervous for this class but it went so much better. The students were wanting to participate and were at a high level so class moved faster. Tomorrow is my last class of the week and i will be going over the same introductions but depending on their level we will see how much we can do. I am still worried about lesson planning so i hope my confidence and knowledge of being a teacher will grow over time.

Today i did not teach so i slept in till about ten, made some oatmeal with bananas and met my city mate named Leah. We ventured up a small mountain with an amazing view at the top. I’m still so amazed whenever i see mountains, they are like some mystic made up landscape out of the movies, but now i am surrounded by them and i love it! After our hike we got some ice cream at a bakery and ran into two foreigners which is strange for the “small” city of Tongren. We then made our way over to a huge open market full of anything from car seats to shampoo to bikes and everything was extremely cheap. I bought two pillows a small rug and towel; and bargained for them all!  

So as of now i am adjusting to being a teacher, living on my own, feeling lonely, and finding my place here. My emotions have been up and down moving faster than a roller coaster these past few days. I am often questioning if i can do this, but in the back of my mind i know i can. Its not in me to give up and that’s what pushes me. But on the other hand i miss America so damn much! Its all the little things that make it so hard. 

I plan to make friends, integrate into the community, and pick up hobbies here that i will enjoy and that will distract me for now until i grow to love this place and what i do. Im staying hopeful and positive over here and it definitely helps when i hear from all of you that i love and miss so much Your support is still as strong on the other side of the world. 

That is it for now. I’m going to enjoy my first rainfall in Tongren while watching a movie. 

xoxo

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The best training group!! 

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"living room"

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"bathroom"

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Kitchen

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Kitchenimage

Bedroomimage

The symbol of Tongren. This stone is at the top of a mountain.image

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My counterpart April. image

My counterpart took me to her hometown in the province next to us called Hunan. image

Beautiful Ancient cityimage

Peace Corps volunteer 19 and 20 groups of Guizhou. Im on the far right.image

My training group at swear in. Some of the girls got traditional Chinese dresses made.image

My language class.

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Saying goodbye for now to my wonderful host mom.

china tongren reblogs Peace Corps Volunteers

How is packing for Peace Corps different for people with disabilities?

disabilities hearing loss cochlear implants deaf culture Peace Corps Volunteers


 Peace Corps Volunteer Lindsay Carrera of Hartland, Wisconsin, is empowering local Ugandan girls and improving their health through sports. Since June, Carrera has been working with 30 secondary school students ages 12-14 to form the region’s first female field hockey teams.
“I played field hockey in junior high and high school, and my best memories are the unlikely friendships and sense of community and pride that came along with being on a strong team,” said Carrera, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has been living in Uganda since 2013. “I created the field hockey teams with the hope of inspiring some confidence and capacity in the young girls of my rural region.”
Carrera has witnessed the harmful effects of gender inequality throughout her service in Uganda, which rates in the bottom 40 percent on the United Nations Gender Inequality Index and many young girls abandon their education once they reach their teenage years.  
Along with a fellow teacher, Carrera will coach team practices, which will incorporate educational sessions on gender-based violence and its causes and cyclical nature. By involving a Ugandan counterpart who is also passionate about gender equality, Carrera hopes the project will continue after she completes her service.
“By forming these field hockey teams, I am hoping to get the message to these girls that they have a future, and even if they don’t all become Olympians, they were a part of something special,” Carrera said. “Down the road, I want to incorporate the whole town in a dialogue about gender stereotypes in Ugandan culture.”

 Peace Corps Volunteer Lindsay Carrera of Hartland, Wisconsin, is empowering local Ugandan girls and improving their health through sports. Since June, Carrera has been working with 30 secondary school students ages 12-14 to form the region’s first female field hockey teams.

“I played field hockey in junior high and high school, and my best memories are the unlikely friendships and sense of community and pride that came along with being on a strong team,” said Carrera, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has been living in Uganda since 2013. “I created the field hockey teams with the hope of inspiring some confidence and capacity in the young girls of my rural region.”

Carrera has witnessed the harmful effects of gender inequality throughout her service in Uganda, which rates in the bottom 40 percent on the United Nations Gender Inequality Index and many young girls abandon their education once they reach their teenage years.  

Along with a fellow teacher, Carrera will coach team practices, which will incorporate educational sessions on gender-based violence and its causes and cyclical nature. By involving a Ugandan counterpart who is also passionate about gender equality, Carrera hopes the project will continue after she completes her service.

“By forming these field hockey teams, I am hoping to get the message to these girls that they have a future, and even if they don’t all become Olympians, they were a part of something special,” Carrera said. “Down the road, I want to incorporate the whole town in a dialogue about gender stereotypes in Ugandan culture.”

(Source: 1.usa.gov)

Uganda girls' empowerment gender equality sports field hockey Peace Corps Volunteers

18 candid (and conflicting) Malawian responses to "What's America like?"

Malawi Africa cultural exchange second goal Peace Corps Volunteers Peace Corps Passport