Peace Corps Volunteer Kate Young is spearheading a school nutrition project to address malnutrition in her Guatemalan community by educating preschool students and their parents on long-term healthy eating habits.

Young, who has been working as a municipal development advisor in Guatemala since 2010, was inspired to pursue the project after coordinating a basic health examination for children at her local preschool.

“I made an appointment with the community hospital for the health nurses to weigh, measure and examine all of the students,” said Young, a graduate of Rutgers University. “Of those examined, 54 percent were malnourished.”

Working with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and the local government, Young has planted vegetable gardens on the school’s grounds and trained the children’s mothers in gardening, harvesting crops, nutrition and cooking. Young has also helped the mothers plant family gardens at their homes.

Read more about the project

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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

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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

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Peace Corps Volunteers Katy Todd and Melissa Bernard are working with local Togolese community members to promote women’s empowerment by organizing the third annual national women’s wellness and empowerment conference. Throughout the five-day conference, 30 women will participate in seminars and activities to enhance their personal development and entrepreneurial skills. Seminar topics will include family planning, maternal health, nutrition, food security, social entrepreneurship and financial literacy."The conference helps women realize their potential to become leaders and role models, and to have a positive impact on those around them,” said Bernard. “Participants leave equipped not only with valuable information, but with confidence in themselves and a belief that they can make a difference.”

Peace Corps Volunteers Katy Todd and Melissa Bernard are working with local Togolese community members to promote women’s empowerment by organizing the third annual national women’s wellness and empowerment conference. Throughout the five-day conference, 30 women will participate in seminars and activities to enhance their personal development and entrepreneurial skills. Seminar topics will include family planning, maternal health, nutrition, food security, social entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

"The conference helps women realize their potential to become leaders and role models, and to have a positive impact on those around them,” said Bernard. “Participants leave equipped not only with valuable information, but with confidence in themselves and a belief that they can make a difference.”

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"This mother was one of the first women in my village to receive PMTC (Preventing Mother to Child Transmission) treatments. She is HIV positive and her baby Ausi Bonolo was born HIV negative. This photo was taken in a remote mountainous district of Lesotho, where over 23% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS. With the increase health care opportunities in Lesotho, help of HIV support groups and village health care workers, Ausi Bonolo has a greater chance of growing up in an AIDS-free generation." - Peace Corps HIV/AIDS Volunteer Pamela Rogers

"This mother was one of the first women in my village to receive PMTC (Preventing Mother to Child Transmission) treatments. She is HIV positive and her baby Ausi Bonolo was born HIV negative. This photo was taken in a remote mountainous district of Lesotho, where over 23% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS. With the increase health care opportunities in Lesotho, help of HIV support groups and village health care workers, Ausi Bonolo has a greater chance of growing up in an AIDS-free generation." - Peace Corps HIV/AIDS Volunteer Pamela Rogers

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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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Maternal Health “Ah ha!” Moment - Peace Corps Service Leads to Career as a Midwife

In this video,Peace Corps Volunteer Caitlin Givens talks about her “Ah ha!” moment in the Sahel desert that led her to shift career paths and become a midwife. During nursing and midwifery school, she serves as a doula and helps women plan for labor and birth. She now draws from her Peace Corps experience to connect with and care for women from diverse backgrounds in the U.S.

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In honor of Mother’s Day, we are shining the spotlight on the maternal health work our Volunteers are doing around the world. Here’s a success story from two Peace Corps Volunteers in Albania!

Two years ago, Volunteer Barbara Stallings started a prenatal education program for expectant mothers and health professionals in her community. After her close of service, it was handed over to Volunteer Jessica Goodell, who continued to develop and grow the program. 

Barbara found that the concept of childbirth education was a very novel one in her Albanian community, with many cultural barriers, leading to nervous expectant mothers who were more likely to have complications. 

To address this issue, Barbara helped facilitate a program that successfully trained one Albanian “Childbirth Educator” with a background in nursing and physical therapy to teach classes. Eleven expectant mothers and one father participated in the classes. The participation of the one father during class is a separate success story itself! 

After taking over the project, Jessica worked with Albania’s Ministry of Health, the Institute of Public Health and her local Directorate of Public Health to organize a “Childbirth Educator Training of Trainers” to increase the number of “Childbirth Educators” who can transfer skills and expand the scope of educated expectant mothers. She applied for accreditation through the Ministry of Health and was approved to conduct the training, with seven professional credit hours to incentivize health professionals to participate. 

A total of 20 health professionals (nurse-midwives, midwives, nurses, and social workers) were successfully trained. Now there are twenty-one “Childbirth Educators” prepared to teach a childbirth education class to expectant mothers in this community. 

Great job, ladies!

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Peace Corps, PEPFAR and Global Health Service Corps Launch Public-Private Partnership to Boost Training for Health Professionals in Developing Countries

The Peace Corps, the U.S. Presidents’ Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the Global Health Service Corps are launching an innovative public-private partnership to place nurses, physicians and other health professionals as adjunct faculty in medical or nursing schools overseas. The Global Health Service Partnership (GHSP) will address health professional shortages by investing in capacity and building support for existing medical and nursing education programs in less developed countries. The new program is expected to begin in Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda in July 2013. Participants will serve in the Peace Corps Response program for one-year assignments. 

(Source: peacecorps.gov)

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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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I had incredible experiences with mothers. I saw a delivery in the crowded district hospital and after, an episiotomy repair. I also visited a traditional birth attendant home, arriving just after two women had delivered the most beautiful and perfect babies. When I left Malawi, I felt inspired and proud of my impact and the footprint I hoped I had left behind. - Peace Corps Response Volunteer Lauren Goodwin

According to figures released by UNICEF, a Malawian woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 36; compare that to America’s 1 in 2,100 and Norway’s 1 in 7,600. High maternal mortality in Malawi is due in part to the fact that only 54 percent of deliveries have a skilled medical professional present. Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) fill the gap in rural, resource-deprived areas where maternal health facilities are not accessible.
Learn more about how Lauren is trying to make “1 in 36” a thing of the past: Because 1 in 36 Is Too Much

I had incredible experiences with mothers. I saw a delivery in the crowded district hospital and after, an episiotomy repair. I also visited a traditional birth attendant home, arriving just after two women had delivered the most beautiful and perfect babies. When I left Malawi, I felt inspired and proud of my impact and the footprint I hoped I had left behind. - Peace Corps Response Volunteer Lauren Goodwin

According to figures released by UNICEF, a Malawian woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 36; compare that to America’s 1 in 2,100 and Norway’s 1 in 7,600. High maternal mortality in Malawi is due in part to the fact that only 54 percent of deliveries have a skilled medical professional present. Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) fill the gap in rural, resource-deprived areas where maternal health facilities are not accessible.

Learn more about how Lauren is trying to make “1 in 36” a thing of the past: Because 1 in 36 Is Too Much

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