Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia Builds Clinic for 10 villages

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LaCivita and her dog Mojo.

Washington, D.C., Sept. 1, 2014 - Peace Corps volunteer Garrett LaCivita, 25, of Potomac, Md., is working with her community in Zambia to build a medical clinic that would serve people from 10 surrounding villages. A portion of the funds for the project will be raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), a program that helps support Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide.

“If this clinic is completed it will provide basic things such as condoms, or antiseptics along with vaccinations and regular checkups for children under age five,” said LaCivita, a 2007 graduate of Stone Ridge High School in Bethesda, Md., who has been living and working in Zambia since February 2013.

A functioning clinic is essential in providing basic health care for community members, which includes services such as malaria medicine, mother and child prenatal care, mid-wife services, condom distribution, HIV-prevention education, and vaccine distribution.

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“With the closet clinic 17 kilometers away, it can be challenging to get there when if someone is sick or injured – especially since people walk or ride their bikes everywhere. So, rather than go to the closest clinic, most villagers rely on traditional or herbal remedies and bits of plastic or traditional cloth (icitenge) for bandages,” said LaCivita, a 2011 graduate of Virginia Tech (B.S. Fisheries Science, Wildlife Biology; minor in Leadership and Social Change).

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Construction underway on the clinic

LaCivita says that the community support has been overwhelming.  They have already started clearing sites for staff housing and brick making, they have hosted several, well-attendedmeetings to talk about the clinic, and the Ministry of Health is also providing a great amount of support

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. One hundred percent of each tax-deductible PCPP donation goes toward a development project. Those interested in supporting projects like LaCivita’s can visit: www.peacecorps.gov/donate.

About Peace Corps/Zambia: There are currently 264 volunteers in Zambia working in the areas of education, community economic development, environment, agriculture and health. During their service in Zambia, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including: Bemba, Kaonde, Lunda, Nyanya, Mambwe, Tonga and Tumbuka. More than 1,535 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Zambia since the program was established in 1994.

On Our Radar: August 29, 2014

August 29, 2014

ONE // Portraits of my Family: Part 2

Beth is a Health Volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa and an excellent photographer. In this post, she shares portraits she took of her host family along with comments about their kindness, warmth and calmness. Enjoy her beautiful photos and then submit your application to one of our programs in The Gambia. Why did Beth apply to Peace Corps? She fell “head over heels in love with the continent” of Africa.

TWO // 4-H and My Wildly Unanticipated Life

Her involvement in 4-H got Elizabeth involved in service (10 years worth in the United States!) and her Peace Corps service keeps her involved. She is an Agriculture Volunteer in Jamaica and teaches local youth about water conservation, composting and more as a part of Jamaica 4-H.

THREE // How To Buy Happiness – The Investment Of Travel

They say you can’t buy happiness, but maybe you can travel your way to happiness. Studies say that experiences and memories make people happier than material purchases. Travelling abroad, experiencing a new culture, bonding with your host family and trying new things all sounds way better than getting the iPhone 6 when it comes out. Increase your future happiness! Search our open programs and start your application now. Your future smiling self will thank you!

FOUR // A Peace Corps Stint In Madagascar Gave Him A Vision Of Vanilla

Madagascar produces most of the world’s vanilla beans but wasn’t manufacturing any vanilla extract… until recently. Two returned Peace Corps Volunteers from Madagascar recently founded Madécasse with the goal of producing vanilla extract made entirely in Madagascar by local people using local ingredients and materials.

FIVE // 14 tips to make sure your Peace Corps blog is amazing

Are you a current Peace Corps Volunteer with a blog or departing for service soon and planning on documenting your 27 months abroad? Read these 14 tips from the winners of 2013’s Blog It Home Contest to learn more about captivating your readers back here in the States.

Read this year’s winning blogs and maybe next year you’ll be on your way to DC to present as a Blog It Home winner!

// Do you have any favorite Peace Corps blogs? Let us know in the comments!

Chevy Chase Peace Corps Volunteer Builds Water Pump, Gardens in Senegal

Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 2014 - Peace Corps volunteer Katherine Carroll, 24, of Chevy Chase, Md., is working with a community organization in Senegal to reconstruct a water pump and provide a reliable source of water for crops and improve food security for families in the area. A portion of the funds for the project will be raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), a program that helps support Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide.

Carroll“Our overall goal for this project is to improve food security by engaging women and young people,” said Carroll, a 2012 graduate of Colorado State University (Anthropology), who has been living and working in Senegal since September 2012. “We want to train them in improved gardening techniques and provide jobs for the community’s youth. The entire project is run and designed by local community members, and we need this pump to serve as a reliable source of water for crops.”

The new pump will replace the 20-year-old water pump that is the sole source of water for crops, increase efficiency and provide a reliable source of water, which will allow a family gardening project to continue.

Carroll2“Twenty women and their families work in the fields every single day. This water pump will allow them to continue harvesting vegetables and increase their yield. I have done several trainings on gardening techniques and it has been a very successful partnership that I’m excited to continue,” said Carroll, who attended the Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.

The local community paid for the expert assessment of the old water pump and will pay for 50 percent of the replacement pump. Community members will also order, transport, and install the new pump.

carroll3In 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. One hundred percent of each tax-deductible PCPP donation goes toward a development project. Those interested in supporting projects like Carroll’s can visit: http://www.peacecorps.gov/donate.

About Peace Corps/Senegal: There are currently 278 volunteers in Senegal working in the areas of agriculture, environment, health and community economic development. During their service in Senegal, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including: French, Wolof, Pulaar du Nord, Fulakunda, Pulafuta, Seereer, Malinke, Mandinka and Jaxanke. More than 3,435 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Senegal since the program was established in 1962.

Wisdom Wednesday: Sarah Singletary

This week’s #WisdomWednesday comes from returned Peace Corps Volunteer Sarah Singletary (Niger 2009-2011) and (Cameroon 2011). To learn more about our programs in Cameroon, visit Peace Corps Cameroon’s website and explore their job listings

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“Even when you encounter frustrations and roadblocks, just remember how cool it is that you are forging a new life in a beautiful country. You’ll never have quite the same experience again anywhere else.”

About Peace Corps/Cameroon: There are currently 214 volunteers in Cameroon working in the areas of education, agriculture and health. During their service in Cameroon, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including: Pidgin English, Fulfulde and French. More than 3,470 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Cameroon since the program was established in 1962.

Blog Star: Packing for the Dominican Republic with Liz

Our newest blog star Liz Verrecchia, a JMU grad from Arlington, Va., hopped on a plane to the Dominican Republic last week to begin her service as a Peace Corps Health trainee! We’ll be following Liz throughout her service from trainee to Volunteer to RPCV. For her first post, she answers one of the most important questions for someone departing for Peace Corps service: 

What did you pack??

That right there is the million-dollar question! It’s been a challenge to try and make a packing list since I’ve heard that Dominicans dress to impress! I’m planning on taking a 65L backpacking backpack as well as a 60L duffle bag to check, and a smaller backpack to carry on. With such limited space, I keep trying to narrow down my packing list since in reality I don’t think I’m going to need as many clothes as I think I do. I have my packing list broken down into three lists, toiletries, clothes, and random (all color coordinated of course)!

packing 1I’m planning on packing lightweight clothes such as:

  • linen pants (2)
  • jeans (1)
  • skirts (3)
  • dresses (5)
  • a mix of plain and fancier cotton shirts (5)
  • tank tops (3)

I also plan on bringing a few bathing suits because I cannot wait to visit the beautiful beaches in my free time! I love to run and, although I’m not sure I’m going to be able to run, I’m going to bring a few running clothes in case I live in a community in which running is appropriate. I’ve tried to focus on clothes that seem durable; as I’ve heard that hand washing really takes a toll on cotton! As for shoes, I’m not sure yet, but I can promise that my Chaco sandals are number one on my list, they are so comfortable and durable and I cannot imagine leaving them behind! I plan on taking mainly sandals, flip-flops, and a pair of running shoes.

I’m also trying to limit the number of toiletries I’m taking, even though it’s hard to think about not washing my hair with my all-time favorite Dove shampoo and conditioner each time I take a shower. If you’re anything like me then life without Q-Tips is very challenging… so I’m taking many Q-Tips! Most people have said that you can get everything you need in the Dominican Republic so I’m only taking the essentials to start me off:

  • 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner
  • soap
  • hand sanitizer
  • face wash

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My ‘random’ list includes items such as:

  • host family gifts (which I have yet to get)
  • quick dry compact towels
  • pictures of home
  • my laptop and iPad
  • an external hard drive
  • a headlamp
  • converters
  • a compact pillow
  • a sleep sack that my sister is making for me
  • and much more!

I’m also going to bring a few snacks from home to ration throughout the first couple of weeks of training as I get settled in and to share with my host family who I hope I can share my love of food with!

Q&A with RPCV Azerbaijan, Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Georgia

Leah Elcock has been a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Georgia for the past six months. Before that, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Azerbaijan from 2011 to 2013, working as an English Teacher Trainer. Leah continues to teach English in Georgia with Azerbaijani speaking populations. She is from Washington, D.C. and graduated from Howard University in 2009 with a bachelor’s in Spanish Language and Literature. Her advice to future Peace Corps applicants? “Do it!”

Read about what her life is like as a Peace Corps Volunteer below: 

Q: How did you hear about Peace Corps and why did you decide to apply?
A: I first heard about Peace Corps from my Spanish professor at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado. Almost every lesson was accompanied by an anecdote about his service in a South American country. When there was a Peace Corps presentation at the college, he encouraged us to go, and I went. Over the next eight years, I continued to hear about Peace Corps from people I met at university, work, and in random places. All of them encouraged me to apply, and the stories I’d heard about their services made Peace Corps sound like just the thing for me, so I applied. Ten years removed from that Spanish professor in Colorado, I was accepted into the Peace Corps.

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Q: Describe where you lived in Azerbaijan and your current site in Georgia.
A: My first site was typical for a town in central Azerbaijan. The land was flat and dry with mild winters, blazing hot summers, and millions of mosquitos. My second site, although very much Azerbaijani, seemed to be the exact opposite of the first. It was a village in Georgia, surrounded by mountains bringing cold winters, verdant summers, and few mosquitos. The folks here mirrored the environment with their rugged day-to-days, genuine smiles, and easy-going temperaments.

Q: What project are you most proud of? 
A: One month before school let out, my counterparts and I began meeting to plan a sports and dance camp. The camp was only going to be two days, one for sports and one for dance. I wanted to let them decide everything, so my role was “questioner.” I questioned them on EVERYTHING I could think of, great and minute. Only when I saw that a decision they had made was going to cause problems during camp did I suggest another way.

After the planning stage came preparation. It was during this stage that my admiration for these two counterparts grew and grew. Whatever task they were given was faithfully carried out sans me having to remind them. They got the names of all the 50+ students who would be attending and delivered the hand-written list to me. They obtained the keys for the gym, checked the equipment there, and noted what materials we’d need to get.

They were justifiably nervous at the beginning of camp, but with a little encouragement they began to come into their own as teachers even though they’d never taught in this way. I purposely gave myself the job of “wanderer” so that I could answer any questions that came up while they were teaching. This also seemed to help them relax. At the end of the first day they were tired but extremely excited to have accomplished what they had set out to do. They were also very encouraged by the kids’ overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to the first day. The two days went so well that the students asked for more. My counterparts were a little apprehensive about that because I would be out of the country. I told them very frankly that I had complete confidence in their ability to continue the camp without me. They put their heads together with the two other people recruited to help with the camp and decided to give the students two more days of camp.

Those two days were very successful; a success for them, yes, but also for me. These women now have a wider view of what is possible in their communities and I am confident that they will have camp again.

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Q: What part of your service did you enjoy most? What do you think will be most memorable about your service?
A: As a Peace Corps Volunteer and a Peace Corps Response Volunteer, I think the most memorable part of my service was the time I spent with my host families. I had three host families and managed to become a part of each one in such a way as to rival the relationships I have with my biological family. It wasn’t all my doing, though. All three families treated me as family from day one in their house. I’ve been a part of their weddings, birthday parties, funerals, national holidays, and religious celebrations. More importantly, I am a part of the more mundane: eating watermelon on lazy summer days, huddling around the stove on cold winter nights; rocking babies to sleep; making bread; and going to the market.

Q: Describe your relationships with your counterparts and host community.
A: My counterparts and I had a relationship that went beyond reaching project goals. At the end of each service, it felt like I was leaving my aunts or sisters. In my communities I felt right at home. I could walk the streets at any time of the day or night. In every corner of the community there was always a place I could go and hang out, making conversation over a cup or two (or three) of tea.

Q: How has Peace Corps changed or enlightened your personal perspective?
A: I’ve learned to be more accepting of things that are completely foreign (or downright weird) to me yet work perfectly for the people around me.

Q: What did you miss most about the United States?
A: Honestly, the only thing that couldn’t be found or substituted was my family. I really wanted them to be a part of my experiences on a day-to-day basis, not just through e-mail updates.

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Q: What do you hope to do after Peace Corps?
A: I plan on getting a Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) so that I can live and teach in other countries. Living abroad has increased my drive to get to know even a little bit more of the world that exists outside of the U.S. The world is my job market. I am willing to go anywhere as long as there are people to teach and languages to be learned.

Q: Are you bringing anything interesting home from service?
A: I left Azerbaijan with an entire suitcase filled with scarves, each one different from the next, but all with a buta (unofficial symbol of Azerbaijan) somewhere in the pattern. I had a great time passing those out to my friends in the States and seeing them put to good use.

Q: What advice would you give to a potential Peace Corps applicant?
A: DO IT! No matter what happens during your service, you will not regret having been part of another culture, even if for such a short period of time.

 

About Peace Corps/Georgia: There are currently 90 volunteers in Georgia working in the areas of English education and community economic development. During their service in Georgia, volunteers learn to speak Georgian. More than 515 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Georgia since the program was established in 2001.

On Our Radar: August 22, 2014

August 22, 2014

ONE // 7 reasons to apply to the Peace Corps campus program you’ve never heard of

You don’t have to be ready to apply to start getting involved with Peace Corps. If you’re a current college student, we encourage you to apply to be a Peace Corps Campus Ambassador. Why should you apply, you ask? We’ve got 7 reasons for you!

TWO // I’m Officially a Peace Corps Volunteer!

Remember Liz? Three months of training is now complete and she’s officially a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo. Her group’s ceremony was hosted at the Ambassador’s home and he recounted stories of meeting people all over the world whose lives had been touched by Peace Corps Volunteers. We can’t wait to hear more about Liz’s service and the difference she makes in Togo!

Read what our Blog Star Charlie has to say about training and site visit in Kosovo, too!

THREE // A Classroom on the Water

Tonia Lovejoy is a returned Volunteer who served in Nepal and is still dedicated to the Peace Corps motto of think globally, act locally. She is a native of Wilmington, N.C. and founder of Beautiful Nation, an all-female team of sailers whose goal is a global floating classroom on their ship, Makulu. They venture around the world and teach via web to a dedicated following of over 1.6 million students.

FOUR // Everything is going right this Tuesday!

Shreya had a great Tuesday this week and we are so happy! She’s from Ashburn, Va. and a Virginia Tech grad and left for service in Cambodia last month. She writes about teaching English and one very important question from one of her students: “Who love you?”

FIVE // Back from Armenia, Peace Corps volunteer feels fulfilled but ‘surreal’

Congratulations to Lauren Engel, a Rodgers Forge, Md. resident and graduate of McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., who just returned from her Peace Corps service in Armenia.

Kelley Matney of Crofton, Va. and a graduate of Salisbury University in Salisbury, Md. also just returned home from her Peace Corps service as a Health Volunteer in Paraguay. What will she miss about Paraguay? The tranquil life that she’s grown to love and all the great friends she made!

// Do you have any favorite Peace Corps blogs? Let us know in the comments!