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!
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.
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.
The National Malaria Control Centre organized mobile clinics around townships to screen, test, and treat people.
The Peace Corps Stomp Out Malaria Coordinator Jane Coleman and a Linking Income and Food Environment Volunteer Laura Walls walked around with community health workers and their loud speakers, letting people know to come to the mobile clinic to get tested!
Jane and Laura spent the rest of the morning with the patients and staff screening, testing and treating mothers, children under five and even some of their fathers.
People were lined up around the clinic and many people went home with Coartem and will be happy and healthy for the month of May!
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.
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
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 Volunteers Introduce Alternative Fuel Source to Communities in Madagascar and Rwanda
Peace Corps Volunteers in Madagascar and Rwanda are working to reduce the impact of deforestation by introducing green charcoal into local communities. This environmentally safe method of charcoal production serves as a sustainable alternative to wood charcoal and can generate income for local families and organizations. Green charcoal bricks are created using a combination of biomass materials such as agricultural waste, leaves, grass and sawdust. The material is chopped up and soaked in water, and then pressed with a manual ram and cylinder into a pellet and left in the sun to dry.
In September 2011, Health PCV Emily Engel from Anchorage, AL worked with her counterparts Haoua Ouédraogo and Mamouna Zida to promote neem cream production. The group created a full day workshop to reach all of the satellite villages in their health jurisdiction. During the workshop 55 women from surrounding villages learned about the basics of malaria, the business of selling neem cream and how to make the locally produced mosquito repellant.
Women in Kalsaka formed a group to produce neem cream after the workshop. They sell neem cream in small bags for 150 cfa and 200 cfa. The group is also working to produce liquid soap and hard soap as well as encouraging the women to have their own small businesses. Burkina is the second largest producer of Shea Butter in the world, so this major ingredient in neem cream is easily found in most small villages. The project is an inexpensive and popular among volunteers and communities in Burkina Faso.