Last day at Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School!
Munting Batangas, Balanga. Philippines
“When a student sees a postcard sent from a faraway place and realizes it’s addressed to them, it sparks an enthusiasm for learning English that the textbooks don’t match. Even my least motivated students will call me aside to help them decipher new words and phrases.”
- Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew Borden, who is teaching students in his Indonesian community English with the help of postcards through a project he calls Postcards to Java
Celia Jackson, 26, is a self-professed “volunteer junkie.” The UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Master’s International student has just received her Peace Corps assignment to Ghana and could not be more excited and pleased.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Jackson said.
Peace Corps Volunteers in Morocco recently hosted an HIV/AIDS awareness session for 60 girl students at a local high school in Tarmikt. Aside from info presentations and an awesome jeopardy game led by Peace Corps Volunteer Sairah Jahangir, the attendees also had a Skype session with two female HIV/AIDS patients from Washington, D.C.
Moroccan counterpart Fatiha Haouat translated questions written by students who wanted to know things like what it’s like being HIV-positive, how the women found out their status, and what their lives are like with the disease. For all of the students it was the first time they had ever met an actual person living with HIV, nonetheless had the opportunity to talk frankly about what living with the disease is like. Perhaps it was one of the first times HIV-positive women have ever had a platform in Morocco to speak publicly about their status and be unashamed. Michelle and Charlene, the two women interviewed, did an amazing job sharing their life stories and helped to change many perspectives on the stigma of the disease, especially as it affects women.
The resounding message was that HIV is like any other disease and that they lead very normal lives. They advocated inclusion and support of women living with HIV, and also helped promote a safe sex message among students. It was a moving interview that called into question ideas of victimhood in Morocco, and how blaming the victim is a kind of injustice: Charlene became HIV-positive when she was raped at the age of 8, an incident that also left her pregnant. Charlene is a practicing Sunni Muslim who is now a resident at N Street Village, the organization that facilitated the interview. The Volunteers who led the session said it was incredible to see the faces of these two women projected on the schoolroom wall, to hear their actual voices speaking truth to stigma in a country where HIV patients cannot speak out for fear of persecution.
Did you know March is National Reading Month?
Reading is definitely one of the more popular leisure activities for Peace Corps Volunteers. What were some of the books you read during your service? Did you bring home any books from your country? How many times did you read War and Peace during your 27 months overseas?
“We want to get the young members of rural Azerbaijan to start thinking outside of their daily scope of how men and women are seen and valued in Azerbaijan, and move into what is possible for the future of their country.”
Peace Corps Volunteers Rick Wiersma and Roxann Brown are working with members of their community to promote gender equality. Recently Wiersma and Brown held a group discussion on gender and development with more than 25 Azerbaijani students and community members in southern Azerbaijan. They reviewed the role of gender within families, women’s rights and gender equality.
The Saddlers Herbal Project in St. Kitts
Twenty-three years ago, Stennett “Kwando” Harvey was a rising athlete star in the small island-nation of St. Kitts. Highly gifted in Tae Kwan Do, he was quickly becoming a regional star in the sport with the potential to take the international stage and represent St. Kitts all around the world. All of this tragically ended with a motorcycle accident that required the amputation of his left leg. Not willing to give up on his potential, Stennett retreated to his family farmland high in the hills of Saddlers in the countryside of St. Kitts, where he spent the following months teaching himself how to do daily activities with his one leg. All on his own, he rehabilitated himself to work on his farmland (another passion of his), continued his Tae Kwan Do training, and discovered within himself a spiritual side that he didn’t know he possessed.
Now, Kwando (as he is known throughout the island), a beekeeper, farmer, and spiritual healer, has teamed up with his significant other, Dr. Elisabeth Karamat, to establish the Saddlers Herbal Project. Dr. Karamat, a former Austrian diplomat who was sent to St. Kitts four years ago by the Vienna Archdiocese to promote agriculture to the youth of St. Kitts. Together, they are striving to work with both youth and local farmers to establish organic and more productive farming practices in the face of a devastating pest in the form of the invasive Green Vervet Monkeys found throughout the island in large numbers.
The Saddlers Herbal Project has three main goals:
Currently, with the assistance of Peace Corps Volunteer Andrew Davis, the Saddlers Herbal Project is partnering with local schools and community-based organizations to provide opportunities for both students and at-risk youth who express an interest in agriculture. Through the use of summer camps, extracurricular activities, and mentors in the form of Kwando himself and international specialists, the Saddlers Herbal Project is taking vulnerable youth off the streets and giving them an opportunity to develop real skills and help them achieve something more meaningful.
Learn more about the project on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SaddlersHerbalProject
These photos were taken on May 20, 2011 at the HIV/Aids candlelight memorial in Ukraine. Students of all ages participated in a candlelight walk, quizzes focused on prevention and stigma reduction, behavior pledges, and presented interpretive dance, song and readings. The evening ended with an outdoor disco in what is now an annual event.
Peace Corps Community Development Volunteer Victoria Lamb
We are committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS
These photos show the final product of the mural the students and teachers painted at my primary school in Burkina Faso in January 2012. The mural followed activities I led with the teachers to teach the students about HIV/AIDS transmission, prevention and stigma.
Peace Corps Health Volunteer Bridget Roby
“Currently, community members either have to rely on the limited materials at the local community center or have to venture outside of the town to access information, including newspapers. The new library will promote self-learning and literacy through access to books and computer programs, in addition to imparting management skills to the teachers and students that will run and maintain the library.”
- Peace Corps Volunter Claire McManus, who is working with her Dominican community to build its first library
Students eager to learn English in Azerbaijan - 2010
Science class in Lesotho - 2009
A classroom in the Philippines - 2006