it’s coming along slowly but surely
Cameroon - 2009
Peace Corps Volunteers Caryn Steinbrecher and Leslie W. Stewart IV organized a youth leadership camp called “Super Vacaciones” in Nicaragua. Twenty-four kids, between the ages of 7-12, participated in the camp, which covered topics including: HIV/AIDS awareness, teenage pregnancy prevention, gender roles, self-esteem development, life skills planning, leadership, and creativity. The goal of the camp was to provide students with an intellectually stimulating environment, which incorporated physical, creative, and thought provoking activities.
Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer Kathleen Howell-Burke organized a career fair for over 400 Moroccan students in Southeastern Morocco. During the fair, Moroccan professionals and college students from the area led panel discussions and workshops to help inspire Moroccan youth to pursue higher-level education and professional careers.
Malaria is an incredibly deadly, pervasive disease. It kills between 750,000 to 1.2 million people every year, mostly children and pregnant women.
When you really see it at the local level, though, its real impact becomes clear. In my host family alone every single child had malaria last year at least once, some three or four times. It exacts an extraordinarily heavy toll on the health, productivity, and finances of the village, and nearly every family has lost children to the disease.
Prevention work can have incredibly positive effect on the well being of these families. Simple interventions like bed nets, indoor residual spraying and prompt treatment can save huge amounts of money, time and ultimately lives.
- Peace Corps Health Volunteer Ian Hennessee
Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday
More than 7 million children will die this year before they reach their 5th birthday. That number is equivalent to the entire population of New York City. And, even more disturbing, most of these children will die from preventable causes.
At the same time, as a global community, we have made staggering progress in the reduction of child mortality. Over the last 50 years, child mortality has been reduced by 70%. This result is largely due to high-impact tools and interventions for child survival, notably new vaccines and more community health workers.
However, we must not let this progress hide the reality that more than 7 million children are at risk every year. In rich and poor countries alike, the poorest and most disadvantaged children continue to miss out on lifesaving, affordable interventions.
The tremendous declines in child mortality in Rwanda, (over 50%), and the 28% decline in both Tanzania and Ethiopia prove that these simple, cost-effective interventions can save lives. Now is the time for every nation to build on this proven success.
All governments and citizens are responsible for the survival of their most vulnerable children. Stakeholders in every country – from the government to civil society to the faith community to the private sector – are responsible for the survival of the world’s children. Their existing commitments as well as future commitments must be fulfilled.
Ending preventable child deaths is possible, if we all work together.
Peace Corps Volunteers Commemorate Earth Day
Peace Corps Volunteers worldwide commemorated Earth Day by working with people in their local communities to become more environmentally conscious and protect the local ecosystem. Volunteers regularly help communities organize recycling projects and environmental youth clubs, assist with park management, and forest, soil, and marine conservation.
Peace Corps Volunteers worldwide commemorate Global Youth Service Day by working with children, youth and young adults to be more active citizens in their communities. This year, many Volunteers are using Global Youth Service Day activities to promote environmental awareness on Earth Day.
Observed April 20 to 22, Global Youth Service Day provides Volunteers with an opportunity to engage youth and local community members in long-term service projects. For more than 10 years, Peace Corps Volunteers and their community partners have celebrated Global Youth Service Day and Earth Day through various activities.
Throughout the year, Peace Corps Volunteers work with youth to foster skills for transitioning from school to work, and becoming engaged in their communities. Volunteers also develop extracurricular activities that help local youth build confidence and develop decision-making, communication and leadership skills that promote positive relationships with peers, parents and adults.
Five percent of Peace Corps Volunteers work in the youth in community development sector as their primary assignment, while another 40 percent of Volunteers work in the education sector.
Peace Corps Volunteer Simon Williams is working with his Ukrainian village to build a community athletic field and create a soccer league for the local school. Williams, who played baseball professionally with the St. Louis Cardinals organization, says the current athletic field at the village school is inadequate.
“The school sits on top of a hill and the field that they have is the size of half a basketball court, which is not sufficient for most physical education activities,” he explains. “Having been active in athletics my whole life, and knowing how soccer-crazy all these kids are, it would be great to see them have an adequate place to play.
“The plan is to make this a very hands-on project,” says the University of Maine graduate, who was Captain of the UMaine baseball team. “The village and its people have very little money but are excited to be a part of building a soccer field for the school.”
Williams has been working as a Youth Development volunteer since 2011, teaching English to students in a Kindergarten through 11th grade school. “We are playing stick-ball and the kids love it. I cut down a broom handle, bought a tennis ball and made the bases out of rocks and they are beginning to grasp the basics. The students always try for a home run, which is hilarious. I like their hustle,” he adds.
In order to receive funding through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost 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. Support Williams’ project in Ukraine
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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 www.peacecorps.gov/donate and search for project number is 568-134.
This photo features a group of 5th graders at Waterberg Primary School in Namibia. It was taken November 10, 2009 shortly after the new computers arrived and the desks and painting had been completed. Along with teachers from my school, I solicited and created a relationship with a nearby local German NGO which ultimately donated 22 new computers to Waterberg Primary School, while the school fundraised for and built the tables and desks. The new computer lab that resulted was used by the school faculty and staff, students and surrounding village community and I held daily training courses for teachers, adults and students. When I left Waterberg, the Internet had not yet been set up, but my explanations and lessons for computer use had registered and made an impact, because 10 months after my departure from the school (and to this day), I received an email from my principal (and several from eager former students), I knew that the computer lab was being used and valued.
- Peace Corps Education Volunteer Melissa Becci
The 1st National Environmental Youth Group gathering. A three day, two night workshop to form and strengthen environmental youth groups. 22 PCVs and 45 Paraguayan youth from all over the country came together to create a network of youth protaganism in effort to protect the environment. Rock on!
Peace Corps Volunteers Lindsay Fay, Mario Leiva, Brett Michaelson, Maureen Stickel, and Casey Weston recently coordinated the first “Young Entrepreneurs of Paraguay” workshop in Asunción, Paraguay. Thirty-nine youth from across the country attended sessions on business development, entrepreneurship, marketing and career planning. Several Paraguayan organizations donated resources for the workshop and five young Paraguayan entrepreneurs shared personal success stories during guest speaking sessions.
“We wanted to promote entrepreneurship education in a fun and dynamic way,” said Stickel, a graduate of Georgetown University who has been working as a community economic development volunteer since June 2010. “The workshop was a great way to connect like-minded youth, and it was amazing to see how much the participants grew in such a short period of time.”
The Children’s Garden is an essential project as it will provide children with the opportunity to learn about nutrition while encouraging them to grow their own crops of which they can take home to their families.
Many children and adults currently do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables within the village. Therefore, a significant portion of the population tends to be undernourished due to the lack of diversity and essential nutrients in their diets.
Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer Christina Alexander