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.

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In recognition of Mother’s Day, Peace Corps Volunteers worldwide are engaging in projects to improve maternal health, educate new mothers and support women and children. Volunteers regularly serve in maternity clinics, teach nutrition to new and expecting mother’s and provide information to keep families healthy. 

Today, 22 percent of all Peace Corps Volunteers work in the health/HIV sector. Health Volunteers help communities meet basic public health needs through education and awareness, providing access to safe drinking water, distributing bed nets for malaria prevention, teaching sanitation measures and more. Even though Peace Corps volunteers are not medical care providers, they provide the skills and training to help keep communities healthy and safe. Many volunteers participate in health-related projects during the course of their service. 

We thank our Volunteers for supporting mothers worldwide and wish all the mothers in the Peace Corps family a happy, healthy, and safe Mother’s Day!

(Source: go.usa.gov)

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As a Small business development Volunteer in a rural village in Morocco, I worked with the local weaving association. One of my projects was creating a carpet catalog for the weavers. This took me into all the houses of the weavers where I photographed their carpets and family members. Here I photographed one of the weavers, Sadia, with a carpet made entirely of recycled sweater thread from her family. She had just finished it and her nephew, Mohamed, was excited about his modeling opportunity.

- Peace Corps Small Business Volunteer Terra Fuller

As a Small business development Volunteer in a rural village in Morocco, I worked with the local weaving association. One of my projects was creating a carpet catalog for the weavers. This took me into all the houses of the weavers where I photographed their carpets and family members. Here I photographed one of the weavers, Sadia, with a carpet made entirely of recycled sweater thread from her family. She had just finished it and her nephew, Mohamed, was excited about his modeling opportunity.

- Peace Corps Small Business Volunteer Terra Fuller

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“When you join the Peace Corps, you think you’re going to another country to give of yourself—but you end up receiving much more than you give,” says Anne-Claire Benoit (MPA ’12), who is doing her best to balance the scales.

During her three years in the Peace Corps in Niger, Anne-Claire formed a very deep connection with a young woman named Ramatou. “I met her on my first day in the village, and as soon as I saw her I knew we would be connected,” she declares, describing her friend as having a bubbly, happy personality and being extremely smart.

(Source: blogs.miis.edu)

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I took this photo in August, 2011, in Moldova, at my Romanian tutor’s home. My tutor, her husband (pictured), and I spent the day in the garden collecting fresh fruits and veggies to prepare for an afternoon feast that we would all help prepare. Gheorghe made me try every vegetable and fruit their garden had to offer. Here, he just tasted a cucumber and was giving it to me for an official taste test. It was delicious!

Peace Corps Education Volunteer Alexandra Chebuhar

I took this photo in August, 2011, in Moldova, at my Romanian tutor’s home. My tutor, her husband (pictured), and I spent the day in the garden collecting fresh fruits and veggies to prepare for an afternoon feast that we would all help prepare. Gheorghe made me try every vegetable and fruit their garden had to offer. Here, he just tasted a cucumber and was giving it to me for an official taste test. It was delicious!

Peace Corps Education Volunteer Alexandra Chebuhar

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Peace Corps Volunteer Allegra Panetto of Haworth, N.J., is working with a local health center in the eastern part of Malawi to power electricity in several of the health center’s rooms using solar energy. A portion of the funds for the project were raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) that helps fund Peace Corps Volunteer community projects worldwide.

"Each month, more than 60 infants are delivered at the health center. Half of these infants are delivered in the middle of the night, and because it only has lights in the labor ward and out-patient room, mothers’ pre-and post-delivery must wait in a room without electricity,” said Panetto, a Columbia University graduate. “Installing solar energy at the health center will better the lives of both the patients and staff.”

The health center serves more than 17,000 people in 35 villages near the shores of Lake Malawi. Prior to installing the solar panels in the health clinic, the staff will renovate the in-patient room and staff housing to prepare for the installation. In 2009, solar electricity was already installed in the out-patient room and labor ward.

"The sun’s power is the sustaining forces behind this project,” said Panetto, who has been working as a health Volunteer in Malawi since July 2010. “The area is a very hot and sunny, even during rainy season. The acquisition of electricity to the in-patient dorm will increase the capacity of patient attendants, nurses, and family members to care for patients – expectant or new mothers, or those suffering from life-threatening diseases.”

In order to receive funding through the PCPP, 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.

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