Cover Image
close this bookAbove and Beyond - Secondary Activities for Peace Corps Volunteers (Peace Corps, 1995, 116 p.)
close this folderPart three - Guidelines for success
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentStarting slowly
View the documentLetting the community take the initiative
View the documentRelying on local resources
View the documentEnjoying the activity
View the documentPaying attention to the nuts and bolts
View the documentKeeping is simple and flexible
View the documentFollowing up, documenting and sharing your experience

Relying on local resources

There are many different types of resources - human, informational, material, technical, financial, and natural. All of these need to be considered in planning your activity.

As a first step, it would tee wise for you to discuss your idea with your APCD.

He or she will probably have suggestions for you both on the feasibility of your idea and where you can turn for help.

For technical information, see what's available in your Peace Corps In-Country Resource Center (IRC).

If you need technical information, check the Whole ICE Catalog to see what materials on the subject are available from Peace Corps' Information Collection and Exchange (ICE). Your IRC should have the publications ICE distributes that relate to your country's projects; materials from World Wise Schools and other Peace Corps programs; as well as resources specific to your country's needs, including local publications, references to local organizations, and information on your country's history, culture, and development. If you have access to other local library facilities, explore these also.

Mobilize local support.

You need to consider which people within the community, who may or may not be directly involved with the secondary activity, can contribute to the project. Are there local government officials who can play a role? What about missionaries, social groups, school groups? Can they help provide information, raise or donate funds, provide labor or materials? You as the PCV, together with others in the community, need to investigate these options.

In exploring what resources are at hand, discuss your activity with your counterparts and anyone else in the community who may be involved or knowledgeable about it. Nancy Picard's women's conference in Hungary grew out of her discussions with her fellow teachers, which led to a women's organization, and finally a country-wide conference.

Find out who can offer technical support. Casey Vanderbeek's primary source of information on hydroponic gardening came from a UNDP agricultural engineer working in Santo Domingo. Technical assistance can also come from people who lack professional training but have experience. The Marcoves sought advice on chicken farming, for example, from the Pupunes, their hosts during training, who ran a profitable farm.

And don't forget your fellow Volunteers, especially if your activity extends far beyond your immediate community, as Nancy Picard's did, or involves a variety of skills other PCVs may be able to provide. Our sampling is replete with examples of group projects - PCVs supporting an orphanage in Quito, Ecuador, or running a summer camp in Paraguay - and the major players in two of our success stories are married couples who pooled their talents in a joint activity.

With "appropriate technology, "tine project has a better chance of being sustained once the Volunteer leaves.

Casey Vanderbeek's experience underscores the importance of making full use of what's readily available, before looking to outside resources. After he learned more about hydroponics from the UNDP expert, he was able to start a second project for only $30.00, by using recycled refuse material. The start-up grant for the original project had been $2,400!

Clearly, a project that costs little and depends on materials easily available has a better chance of surviving than one that requires outside assistance. It will also be something people in the community can identify with and take pride in as being their own product.

If additional technical support is necessary, consider the resources available from OTAPS.

If your activity requires technical information that is not available either in your IRC or any local library or other institution, then your APCD probably will suggest contacting Peace Corps' Office of Training and Program Support (OTAPS). Your APCD is probably familiar with OTAPS because of the many types of services and technical assistance OTAPS provides all country programs. If your secondary activity is linked to women or youth, you may have had contact with OTAPS' Women in Development (WID) or Youth Coordinator, who may have advised you on its planning and support. Nancy Picard, for example, sought help from the WID Coordinator in organizing her women's conference in Hungary.

In all likelihood, you've already reviewed The Whole ICE Catalog and received technical information or publications from OTAPS' Information Collection and Exchange. ICE can make available to you virtually all the materials mentioned in this Secondary Activities manual. ICE also helps to establish and support IRCs, and maintains its own Resource Center, encouraging PCVs to send their reports, newsletters, and other field-generated documents to Washington for use there and to disseminate the information more widely. You or your IRC Manager can write to ICE for specific publications or information, and ICE will send the publications and either answer your inquiries directly or contact people with the technical expertise at headquarters or at another organization in the ICE Network to put you in touch with them.

In our sample, we describe the help a farming cooperative in Tonga received from another special OTAPS program, Farmer-to-Farmer (FTF), which was instrumental in sending an expert to teach the farmers how to maintain their farm machinery. Based in OTAPS' Agriculture Sector and funded by USAID, FTF sends these volunteer experts to Peace Corps sites on short-term assignments at the request of PCVs (made through their APCDs). These volunteers, recruited by the nonprofit organization Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (VOCA), are not only farmers, but may be veterinarians, agricultural engineers, soil conservationists, land management specialists, marketing specialists, agribusiness experts, and the like.

If fund-raising is required, whenever possible, start locally and let local people take the lead.

It may take longer that way, but the results can contribute to local empowerment. Before the women's group in Hungary had received funds from Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance program to run a women's conference, the members had already gotten support from local businesses, through in-kind donations and reduced costs. The SPA grant may have eased the way, but the women's efforts helped them realize what they could accomplish on their own.

See what the community itself can do and, if necessary, go to the region or the capital before seeking resources from outside the country. Casey Vanderbeek's funding came from the local telephone company. Frank Giarrizzo had the support of the local Rotary Club.

Most Peace Corps programs and many international donors, in fact, will require your host country community to make inkind or cash contributions to match any outside funding the activity receives. In this way, people receiving assistance will have a personal investment in the activity's success.

If your activity demands outside funding, then you can serve to link the community with the most appropriate source of support.

If your activity has the full backing of your community but requires funding that cannot be supplied locally, then find out what other sources exist. You may find help forthcoming from the major international development organizations, such as the United Nations, especially its Development Program (UNDP) and UNICEF; the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the World Health Organization (WHO); and the World Bank. Your Peace Corps country staff should be familiar with how to get in touch with these organizations. Also, your In-Country Resource Center should have on hand the InterAction Member Profiles [WIC No. RE027], describing non-governmental organizations working in international development, including some that donate funds in support of projects proposed by outsiders.

Support for Frank Giarrizzo's activity came from the Trickle Up Program (TUP), which he heard about during his Peace Corps training. The brailler repair project in Nepal was supported from the beginning by the Perkins School for the Blind outside Boston, and PCVs Cox and Friedman secured continued assistance from a German PVO also working with blind people in Nepal.

Another frequent approach Volunteers take is to contact those groups they were associated with at home: business organizations, church groups, Rotarians, YM & YWCAs, Chambers of Commerce, professional organizations, schools, and alumni associations. These groups often have a special interest in helping "their PCV," especially when the activity is related to their mission. All official contact with such groups can be made through Peace Corps/Washington's Office of Private Sector Relations, specifically the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) and Gifts-In-Kind (GIK) Program - and many PCVs whose activities are described in our sample have followed this route.

The Peace Corps Partnership Program offers an opportunity for grassroots organizations in the United States to become involved in international development by providing funds for community development activities in which Peace Corps Volunteers are involved. PCPP is a resource available in all Peace Corps countries and, as our sampling indicates, has been used to support a wide range of activities, from constructing schools to developing environmental education materials; from assisting the handicapped to improving computer technology. Through Partnership, direct links are established between U.S. Partners and the PCV's host community, and the opportunity for cross-cultural exchange is fostered.

Gifts-in-Kind does not offer funding, but can provide materials for project support. GIK seeks donations in response to specific requests from PCVs, who complete an application form, which is signed by the Country Director or APCD and then submitted to GIK in Washington. The materials requested must directly facilitate the PCV's ability to implement a secondary activity or primary assignment. Requests have ranged from baseball equipment to typewriters, from crayons to sewing machines. Although the GIK program does not guarantee that all requests will be fulfilled, it does make every attempt to do so.

Another important source of funding from Peace Corps/ Washington is OTAPS' Small Project Assistance program, frequently cited in this manual. SPA offers grants of up to $10,000 for community initiated self-help efforts. These SPA projects must be completed within one year and before the sponsoring PCV's Close of Service; they cannot encourage nor depend upon further outside assistance; and the community must be involved, contributing a percentage of the resources needed in materials, labor, or funds.

Besides offering project grants, SPA also provides Technical Assistance funds for programming consultations, project design and management workshops, and technical training to support the development and implementation of projects funded by SPA grants. These technical services are provided to PCVs and their host-country counterparts, with the requests submitted by Peace Corps staff and then being approved in Washington. The egg production project in Papua New Guinea is a good example of SPA at work, first through its support of a project design and management workshop where the idea for the egg farm took shape, and then in providing a grant to help make it possible.

The role of the PCV frequently includes proposal development, but the community should carry es much of the responsibility es possible.

As a PCV you bring with you a perspective of the world and a confidence in interacting with it that the people of your community may not have. You have contact with the outside and know how to communicate in a professional manner.

Casey Vanderbeek in the Dominican Republic, for example, was already a successful fund-raiser for his primary job assignment when he took on the task of raising money for the rooftop garden and wrote the proposal that was presented to the president of the local telephone company. Whether requesting financial assistance from Peace Corps or non-governmental organizations, such as the Trickle Up Program, Volunteers must submit an application accompanied by a proposal.

While it may be necessary for you to write and translate the proposal yourself, it is better if - like the Marcoves - you can get community members to undertake the task. The Contehs' workshops in which they explained their fishing lure techniques were supported by the Peace Corps Partnership Program, and working with their PCV to prepare the proposal added to the pride and capabilities of these Sierra Leoneans. One of the greatest services you can do is to share your skills so that when you leave, the people of your community can identify and draw upon the resources necessary to meet their own needs.