| Above and beyond |
Secondary Activities for Peace Corps Volunteers
Peace Corps Information Collection & Exchange
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Information collection & exchange
Peace Corpse Information Collection & Exchange (ICE) was established so that the strategies and technologies developed by Peace Corps Volunteers, their co-workers and their counterparts could be made available to the wide range of development organizations and individual workers who might find them useful. Training guides, curricula, lesson plans, project reports, manuals and other Peace Corps generated materials developed in the field are collected and reviewed. Some are reprinted "as is"; others provide a source of field based information for the production of manuals or for research in particular program areas. Materials that you submit to ICE thus become part of the Peace Corps' larger contribution to development.
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ICE/ Peace Corps
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Add your experience to the ICE Resource Center. Send materials that you have prepared so that we can share them with others working in the development field. Your technical insights serve as the basis for the generation of ICE manuals, reprints, and resource packets, and also ensure that ICE is providing the most up-to-date, innovative problem-solving techniques and information available to you and your fellow development workers.
As a reflection of the Peace Corps experience, this manual is the work of many people. Besides the three of us, at least eight other people - the featured players in our success stories - can be considered co-authors: Stephanie Cox, Del Friedman, Frank Giarrizzo, Phil Bob Hellmich, Jeff Marcove, Nancy Picard, Casey Vanderbeek, and Susan Willett. Without their articles in the Peace Corps Times, or the material they provided us, we would have no Above and Beyond.
In addition, we had the advice of present and former staff in Peace Corps/Washington. An original committee from OTAPS, including Judy Braus, Drew Burnett, Angela Churchill, Barbara Ferris, Phyllis Gestrin, Mary Jo Larson, Paul Vitale and Ben Way, broached the idea of a new manual and suggested its content.
Staff from Peace Corps Partnership, Gifts-in-Kind, World Wise Schools, and Small Project Assistance made their files available to us, and once we started writing, provided editorial help. They also were the source for some of our photographs, but many others came from the Peace Corps Times, The Exchange, and the walls at Agency headquarters, decorated with Peace Corps scenes from around the world.
Our drafts were reviewed by Randy Adams, Betsy Davis, Amy Rule, Gretchen Gindlesperger, Eric Hornberger, Max Koller, Margie Legowski, Maryann Murray, Kathy Rulon, John Shores, Shelley Smith, Jamie Watts, and Alexandra Willson. The issues raised were discussed at an OTAPS forum, chaired by Joy Barrett and attended by staff from the entire Agency. We have tried as much as possible to respond to their combined judgment and incorporate their suggestions in our final draft. We hope we have succeeded.
Throughout, we've benefited from the direction of David Wolfe and the other staff at ICE - Gail Wadsworth, Vernell Womack, and Sheila Wright - and have been helped, too, by Louis Welton, who took our draft in its raw form and produced this manual.
But above all, we owe a debt of gratitude to the many Volunteers whose names we never mentioned but whose stories gave us a foundation to build on. Our thanks and appreciation to all of you.
In 1987, Peace Corps' Information Collection and Exchange (ICE) division produced a manual to help Education Volunteers start what were then called "secondary projects," activities the Volunteers could organize during school recesses when they were otherwise unemployed. The manual discussed the philosophy of secondary projects and provided guidelines for their execution. Chapters dealt with such topics as situational analysis, needs assessment, feasibility studies, project planning, problem solving, evaluation, and documentation.
With its focus on Education Volunteers and formal projects, however, the manual did not reflect the actual experience of many other Volunteers who were involved in a variety of outside activities. Also, using the term project made it difficult to distinguish these activities from Peace Corps Projects as defined by the Agency's Programming and Training System (PATS). After discussions with Peace Corps staff and Volunteers, ICE therefore decided it was time to produce a new manual that would demonstrate these additional Peace Corps Volunteer accomplishments.
Part I of this new manual, Above and Beyond, takes an in-depth look at seven "success stories." We try to show what prompted the Volunteers to get involved, what they did and how they did it.
In Part II we briefly describe some 50 different activities that Volunteers in the past have tried, to stimulate PCVs to come up with ideas of their own and act on them. I:)rawing on the experience of our success stories, we then present in Part III a series of guidelines that PCVs can apply to any secondary activity, from a women's handicraft business to a village cleanup campaign. A bibliography at the end cites publications mentioned in the manual as well as others that can be used to initiate, organize, or implement community activities. All are available through Peace Corps' Information Collection and Exchange (ICE) or In-Country Resource Centers (IRCs) in Peace Corps posts.
As you read through the material, consider your own interests as well as your community's needs and think about what you can do to satisfy both. We wish you the very best in launching this new venture and facing the challenges.
Do YOU THINK YOU MlGHT LIKE TO. . .
• Teach adults in your community to read;
• Organize an urban garden;
• Train villagers to operate solar-powered radios;
• Conduct a survey to find out whether people would like to improve their water supply; or
• Volunteer to work in a neighborhood center serving at-risk youths?
IF SO, YOU MIGHT CONSIDER DOING IT AS A SECONDARY ACTIVITY.
WHAT IS A SECONDARY ACTIVITY?
A secondary activity is just about anything you as a Volunteer might do to benefit the community that is not part of your primary assignment. It is secondary to the primary assignment, not necessarily secondary in importance either to you or to the community you serve.
Secondary activities can share the objectives and methodologies of Peace Corps projects and many of the same characteristics, without following the same formal procedures. A village clean-up campaign, for example, may get underway without a needs assessment or a feasibility study, simply because a Volunteer and her neighbor start talking about the garbage outside their houses and decide to do something about it.
In the more than 30 years since the Peace Corps was established, PCVs have organized an amazing range of such activities. To give a few examples, they have promoted environmental awareness through drama, established piggeries, equipped language laboratories, taught women how to make milk from soybeans, built latrines, organized libraries, and taught children to play new sports.
WHY DO PCVs UNDERTAKE SECONDARY ACTIVITIES?
PCVs get involved in community activities in addition to their primary job assignment for a variety of reasons. They may do so because of lulls in project tasks, bureaucratic delays, or simply because they want more direct involvement with people in their communities. They may have free time, or see community needs they think they can help with; they may be asked to undertake a specific activity by community residents, or may have skills and interests they wish to pursue for their own pleasure.
TO GIVE YOU AN IDEA, HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES FROM THIS MANUAL:
• In the Dominican Republic, a Volunteer had her students paint a world map on the school wall after she discovered that very little material existed to teach them geography.
• Missing the fairs she had enjoyed growing up in Iowa, a PCV organized one in her village in Mauritania to foster community spirit.
• A PCV in Jamaica who had played in a band back home turned his hobby into a profitable business for five young men, whom he trained to build and play drums.
Sometimes an APCD may suggest that a PCV continue with an activity started by a previous PCV. In the case of Paraguay's summer health camps, a secondary activity begun years ago by a group of Education Volunteers is now an ongoing part of the country's Peace Corps program.
EXPLORING YOUR OWN POTENTIAL
Your secondary activity may prove to be a particularly meaningful part of your Peace Corps service, enabling you to expand your own skills and explore your own potential. Perhaps you have always liked gardening, but never tried to grow vegetables hydroponically. Here's a chance to try! Secondary activities are most likely to be successful if you choose something that really interests you and utilizes your unique skills. Most important, make sure it answers a community need.
In some cases, it is the secondary activity a Volunteer undertakes that provides the impetus for a career once Peace Corps service is completed. In one of the success stories included in this manual, a PCV working in the Dominican Republic as a Business Development Volunteer organized a rooftop garden for at-risk youth as a secondary activity. This rewarding experience influenced him to study biology in graduate school after completing his Peace Corps assignment.
WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM THIS MANUAL?
This manual is intended to help you get started on a secondary activity by sharing the experiences of former PCVs. In the pages ahead, you will read about their successful efforts to raise poultry in Papua New Guinea, publish folk tales in Yap, establish hydroponic gardening on rooftops in the Dominican Republic, make fishing lures in Sierra Leone, repair braillers in Nepal, create rural enterprise zones in Malawi, and organize a women's leadership group in Hungary. An anecdotal approach is used to demonstrate how these ideas originated, how they became a reality, and how they made a difference in the lives of the people concerned.
IN GENERAL, THE VOLUNTEERS FOLLOWED THREE BASIC STEPS:
• First they perceived a need within their community and thought perhaps their skills could be of use.
• They then gathered information to find out whether the activity was worth pursuing.
• Finally, they enlisted the help of community members, planned together, and proceeded with the activity one careful step at a time.
The descriptions of their experiences come from their own material, two originally appearing as articles in the "ICE ALMANAC" (now "TAPESTRY") section of the Peace Corps Times. We selected these particular examples to illustrate the variety of activities and settings in which these activities have taken place, but they are not necessarily typical of PCVs' secondary activities. Two, in fact, are distinctly atypical. Not too many Volunteers, for example, will have the time, skills, energy or ambition to organize enterprise zones, nor will many be able to follow the example of the PCV couple in Nepal and know in advance what they want to do before they start their Peace Corps service. Some activities may never even get off the ground, and if these failures were publicized, they could teach us as many lessons as do success stories. Regardless of whether these stories typify the Peace Corps experience, however, telling them provides some insight into the process that brought about their success.
AS THE CONCLUDING ANALYSIS DEMONSTRATES, WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS, WHAT THESE ACTIVITIES HAVE IN COMMON IS THAT THEY...
• Started slowly, after the Volunteer had gotten to know the community and its needs;
• Were initiated and led by the community with the assistance of the Volunteer, rather than vice versa;
• Included planning and monitoring;
• Made use of available resources;
• Were kept relatively simple and flexible;
• Were enjoyable (most of the time!) for the Volunteers; and
• Provided information for others to learn from their experience.
Keep these principles in mind as you read through Part II, "A SAMPLING OF ACTIVITIES." Then think how you might apply them to your own country and your own situation to add another success story to Above and Beyond.
BY PHIL BOB HELLMICH
During my first fishing trip in West Africa, my childhood dreams were realized as I successfully fought and landed a 25-pound Nile perch. That catch came at the end of my second year as a Peace Corps Volunteer. It marked the beginning of my wildest outdoors fantasies and of a medium for me to explore my ethical quandaries of being a Westerner living and working in Sierra Leone. What slowly emerged over the next two years was an appropriate technology project where the process far outweighed the end results.
To unwind from my primary work (an appropriate technology water well project) during the dry season, I spent the evenings fishing Sierra Leone's Rokel River with my host-country friends, the Conteh brothers - Moses, Bokarie, and Sanpha.
As I averaged over 125 pounds of Nile perch a month, my feelings for fishing began to shift. My diet, and that of 30-plus Contehs, greatly improved with the fresh fish. I discovered the Conteh brothers had similar enthusiasm for catching large fish, but the realities of providing food for their families took precedence over the "sport."
I debated my use of Western fishing lures, commonly referred to by Sierra Leoneans as "English baits." The imported lures were more effective in catching the elusive Nile perch than were the traditional methods of fishing, but I was confronted with my role as a Westerner introducing foreign gadgets, technologies, and values by my mere presence.
As a Volunteer I was often saddened when I perceived Sierra Leoneans openly embracing Western ways over their own culture and traditions. However, I could not deny the Contehs their attraction for Western ways that they had seen since their childhood. For example, the Conteh brothers had long known of English baits since Volunteers, missionaries, and expatriates had fished the area for decades.
The Conteh brothers had received such lures as presents and adapted to using them as hand lines, therefore not needing a rod and reel. English baits left to the Contehs were eventually lost to large perch or the rocky bottom of the Rokel. The cost of one imported lure was equivalent to a local teacher's monthly salary. Even though I intended to leave all of my fishing gear with the Contehs, I was saddened by my perpetuation of their desire for a Western method of fishing that they could not sustain.
My ethical struggle intensified as I replaced my own lost lures with imported ones available in a shop 120 miles from the village. My living allowance was not sufficient for me to keep fishing. Several PCV friends recommended that I make my own lures. I had never tied a fishing fly let alone carved a stick into a fishlike lure that could dive and dance in the water. The Contehs had similar self-doubts, but theirs were expressed as a reflection on Sierra Leoneans in general not being able to make the fancy "white man's" gadget. I became even more frustrated as my presence reinforced these beliefs.
Finally, I decided to address my own self-doubts and ethical quandaries by setting a simple goal: to create locally made lures that caught Nile perch and that could be sustained by the Conteh brothers. What followed was a project that went beyond our imaginations. Within two months, Bokarie caught several Nile perch - a fish that looks much like a large-mouth bass - with a lure he made himself.
Over the next 12 months:
• the Contehs became self-sufficient in making lures that caught nile perch;
• they began to sell excess catches for profit;
• they successfully imitated appropriate technology fishing reels that are used in Chile;
• Sanpha caught 101 pounds of Nile perch in a single night;
• the Contehs served as trainers for four successful workshops;
• together, we developed lures that caught barracudas and proved effective for salt-water fishing;
• and the Contehs started a small business, selling 72 lures in three months.
These are impressive "milestones" of the project, yet they were not my original intentions nor those of the Conteh brothers. If we had envisioned these benchmarks as goals from the start, we probably would never have reached them because of the temptation to circumvent the process with non-sustainable materials and/or technologies. The process was what made the milestones possible. The process had simple premises and was extremely challenging.
One of these premises was to (1) use only local materials that were readily available to the Conteh brothers. Another premise was to (2) engage the Conteh brothers actively from the beginning by drawing on their strengths.
The sustainability of the project depended on adhering to these premises. There were many times it would have been easy to look to expensive imported materials to overcome a technical hurdle. By adhering to these two premises, the Conteh brothers were an integral part of the entire process. For example, I did not know the local trees and their characteristics. The Contehs knew the qualities of every tree in the bush and which tree would provide wood with the perfect buoyancy. The Contehs relied on their own carving skills to produce their everyday tools. They did not trust me with a knife for fear I would hurt myself.
When I first suggested to the Conteh brothers that we try to make our own lures, they laughed. They identified lures as something they wanted. However, the Contehs thought they would be wasting their time to even try making lures. They were also afraid of being labeled as foolish by their peers for spending time making toys instead of working on their farms.
To start the process, I asked one of the brothers to bring me a good stick for carving. When he saw what I was doing, he took it from my hand to help me. He worked on the stick when not working on his farm. This was the start of a project that would allow the Conteh brothers to continue their farming while improving their fishing capacity.
The process was slow for the eight months. The early attempts failed miserably. When meeting a technical wall we would all go our own ways for a few days before discussing what to try next. I would debate whether it was worth trying to continue and the Contehs later admitted to hiding from me a few times. Eventually, one of us would come up with an idea of how to use a local material to overcome our obstacle. This process of sharing our ideas with one another became known as "hanging heads," a Krio expression for group consultation.
The Conteh brothers' development of pride in their work was the most challenging part of the process. I was more impressed with the first successful lures than were the Contehs.
They said the lures were "wo-wo" (Krio for ugly) while I thought the lures were profound and beautiful. My Peace Corps peers shared my opinion.
One PCV arranged for two of the Conteh brothers and me to give a workshop for National Park employees. At this point I decided to invite the Contehs to serve as instructors. I hoped that they would gain mastery on how to make lures by teaching and that they would serve as an example of Sierra Leoneans being able to make English baits. They were also technically more skilled than I.
After the workshop, outside interest in the Conteh brothers' work grew. The workshop stirred more discussion within Peace Corps and the government ministry. The Contehs themselves continued to frown on their lures. They still did not believe their work was valuable and continued to ask me if I would leave them my fishing lures before returning to the United States.
It was during the next workshop four months later that the Contehs finally gained a sense of pride.
The workshop came after the rainy season, a period when the Contehs were too busy with farming to think about lures, and just before the next fishing season.
The workshop was attended by PCVs and Sierra Leonean development workers from throughout the country, 21 people in all. After the workshop, Moses said, "I did not believe you, Phil Bob, when you said people liked our lures . . . but when I saw all of those important people listening to my every word, my head became bigger than my body."
The Contehs emerged from the workshop with both a sense of pride and a demand for their lures. They returned to their village with the dry season fishing just beginning. The hanging heads sessions became more frequent as the Contehs began to market lures and to fish. This was when Sanpha returned from the river one night with four Nile perch weighing 101 pounds.
It was at this time that I was most challenged by an important part of the entire process: not to allow my ego to come before the Contehs' opportunity to feel empowered. Keeping my ego in check was challenging for me as I was seen by some host-nationals as the "wonderful Piskoh" (Krio for Peace Corps) helping others. Keeping my ego out of fishing was particularly difficult.
After 10 months of making lures, Sanpha was suddenly telling me that he had caught bigger fish than I with lures that he had made himself. He also pointed out that I had never made a single lure from start to finish. We all laughed as I began carving my first lure.
Reflecting on the process, the old cliche "give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime" has new meaning. I do not feel that I taught the Contehs how to make lures. I believe that together we created an environment for all of us to experience our own creative potential.
During my last fishing trip to the Rokel river, I came across a farmer fishing with a Conteh brother lure. I quietly sat back and watched as he pulled a Nile perch from the water and headed back to his village. It was a truly meaningful moment.
When Jan Kees (Casey) Vanderbeek joined the Peace Corps in 1990, he seemed the typical Volunteer. He was 23 years old, and two years out of college. A liberal arts student who was working temporarily as a salesman while his Peace Corps application was being processed, he had all the earmarks of a "generalist," albeit with a few special skills. Having grown up in a Latino neighborhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico, his Spanish was excellent; also, his interim employment had given him some business experience. Approved for Peace Corps service, he was assigned to the Dominican Republic as a Business Development Volunteer.
Wanting to work in an urban setting, Vanderbeek was given the task of working with "Canillitas con Don Bosco," an organization belonging to the Salesian order of the Catholic Church, located in the capital city of Santo Domingo. He was to help prepare teaching materials for vocational workshops that were to be part of "La Casa de Canillita," a residential/ community center attached to the Salesian trade school, where poor boys from nearby "barrios," working as shoeshine boys, street vendors, and the like, could be trained for permanent employment. Unfortunately, skyrocketing costs because of inflation delayed the center's construction, so Vanderbeek began to look for other ways he could work with these boys.
A tall blond youth, with an easygoing manner and a natural gift for the Dominican dialect, Vanderbeek had no trouble relating to these street kids. Impressed with his height, the boys were eager to join him on the basketball court, and he encouraged them to participate in the school's sports program, compete in rap and breakdance sessions he organized, and just generally hang out with him.
He was also able to help some of the boys earn more money. Five brothers in the group, for example, were working as peanut vendors, but wanted to set up a hot dog stand, which they were sure would bring them more income. Speaking before the Chamber of Commerce, the local American school and other organizations, Vanderbeek was able to raise $5,000, which went towards financing the center as well as the brothers' small business.
Vanderbeek's efforts on behalf of the boys brought him in touch with another organization working with at-risk youth in Santo Domingo - "Ninos en Marcha" - sponsored by the Dominican YMCA. He was so impressed with the dedication and creativeness of the three men who ran the program that he decided to work with them.
The organization had well-equipped woodworking and welding shops in which boys learned vocational skills, but it lacked operating funds to include the number of youths who wanted training. Rather than soliciting funds, the staff and Vanderbeek agreed that the preferable alternative would be to use the workshops to fabricate items that could be sold in nearby stores. The boys would be trained in vocational skills, while at the same time generating income for the program.
They soon ran into problems, however. For one thing, Santo Domingo was suffering from regular power failures, and without electricity, they could not maintain production. For another, their products were such cheap items that they would have to operate virtually on sweatshop labor in order to make any money, which wasn't exactly the message they were trying to get across to these boys.
But one good result did come from this experience. In the process of fabricating their wooden products, a lot of sawdust had accumulated, which was being stored behind a low cinderblock wall on the building's roof. In the warm, humid climate, a large part of the sawdust had decomposed into a material resembling soil. One of the staff members, Franklin Tamayo, had planted a small papaya tree, some sugar cane and a local herb called "oregano poleo" in this sawdust, and they seemed to be flourishing.
Invited to Tamayo's house for dinner, the PCV saw other examples of Tamayo's rooftop gardening. The Dominican had just added a second floor to his house. On the roof, he had built cement planters, in which he was growing lettuce, teak choi, radishes, and even a watermelon plant. He also had installed a 55-gallon barrel on the roof for growing a large cassava plant. Tamayo said he had gotten the idea and the technical know-how for starting this rooftop garden from a UN-sponsored Hydroponic Agriculture Cooperative that was operating nearby.
Tamayo's garden stirred Vanderbeek's imagination. He remembered how his mother had started a family garden, and how he and his brothers had each been responsible for their own plots, growing whatever they wanted, watering, weeding, and cultivating.
Through his own experience, Vanderbeek realized that "successful gardening requires a certain selfdiscipline and stability that are very positive traits in many other aspects of life. In addition the gardener is regularly rewarded for individual efforts. This makes a tremendous impression on a kid with an individual garden plot."
Vanderbeek also thought gardening could be a way of teaching the boys about proper nutrition and sanitation, and believed they'd take to the idea. They might be urban street kids, but like most people living in Third World slums, they're "no more than one generation from the land," and predisposed to farming, even in this miniature form. Discussing with Tamayo the potential of rooftop gardening, Vanderbeek decided it would be the perfect money-raising project for his boys.
With Tamayo's help, Vanderbeek became familiar with some of the literature on "hydroponics," the process of growing plants without soil. Jorge Zapp's book, Cultivos sin Tierra, Hidroponia Popular, based on the UN project he headed in Bogota and Cali, provided him with excellent and detailed source material. Another important resource was Guia Practica de Cultivos, Hidroponia Popular, written by Gustavo Salazar, an agricultural engineer, who was directing the hydroponic project in the Dominican Republic for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and who became Vanderbeek's principal mentor.
Tamayo drew up the designs for a hydroponic facility on the roof of Ninos en Marcha, which required $2,000 to purchase the necessary lumber, install a water storage tank, and improve the building's plumbing system. Vanderbeek wrote a proposal and presented it to the president of CODETEL, the local telephone company, which had a history of supporting development projects. Within a month, Ninos en Marcha received a grant of $2,400 to initiate its hydroponic gardening project.
The boys under Tamayo's direction spent the next three months getting the facility ready and doing the planting, while Vanderbeek initiated contact with Salazar to get his technical advice. At first, Salazar was reluctant to work with Vanderbeek and the staff at Ninos en Marcha because he felt that their project was too costly, but he eventually agreed and suggested they attend a week-long symposium on hydroponics that was being held at the local university, and which was being co-sponsored by the UNDP. Vanderbeek, Tamayo, and Miguel Robles, also from the staff, enrolled in the symposium, which proved to be a course to train trainers in the various technical aspects of hydroponics, focusing on low-cost methods. The success of this course can be measured by the fact that when Vanderbeek later replicated the rooftop gardening project, using recycled refuse materials at La Yucca, another "Y" facility, 15 kilometers from Santo Domingo, the start-up cost was less than $30.00.
Even though the boys' first harvest, as Vanderbeek reported, "was rather paltry," nevertheless he "had never seen kids so excited over a few pieces of lettuce." Besides the lettuce, they had also planted radishes, tomatoes, bok choi, and cucumbers, which the boys had never seen before, but devoured once they tasted them.
Using a system of seed beds and regular transplanting schedules, they were able to harvest monthly and have some excess produce to sell to a few local restaurants. But they didn't have a real money-making project, because most of their vegetables were either consumed by the people there or were given away free to neighbors.
Vanderbeek had considered raising herbs to sell to the luxury hotels and restaurants in Santo Domingo and had tried planting basil, dill, oregano, and a few others, but they required much more careful cultivation and harvesting than the boys were accustomed to doing. More important, no one wanted to market them.
"The places where we sold these items were run by foreigners or upper- class Dominicans. The normally friendly and outgoing people I worked with turned into shy and timid creatures when in the presence of these people. I literally had to drag them on sales calls."
After a while, however, Vanderbeek noticed that the neighbors were asking to take some of these herbs, particularly the basil and oregano poleo. When he questioned why they were so popular, he was told they were key ingredients for various folk medicines. One old man, for example, who sold used newspapers and magazines on the street corner across from the Ninos en Marcha building, asked if he could use some of the planting beds to raise his own basil, lemon grass and ginger - all to be used for medicinal purposes.
A month or so before Vanderbeek left the country, he came back from a trip to the beach to find Robles and three of the boys furiously planting hundreds of basil cuttings. While the PCV had been at the beach, they had contacted the owner of a local plant nursery and had received an order for 500 basil plants. They would be paid 5 pesos apiece for the plants, and if all went well, they would receive an order for another 500 the following month. It seemed the herb garden was becoming a profitable enterprise.
Vanderbeek's experience with the hydroponic gardening project convinced him that even had it not made any money, its educational and nutritional values alone made it a worthwhile activity, especially for Volunteers working with unemployed urban youth. As a result, he arranged to have a training workshop in Santo Domingo, conducted by Salazar and other technical specialists from the UNDP and Peace Corps' Office of Training and Program Support, for over 30 PCVs and their counterparts on the techniques of popular hydroponics. When Vanderbeek left the Dominican Republic, the Peace Corps assigned another Volunteer to spend a part of her time monitoring the project.
The experience with hydroponics also sparked Vanderbeek's own career. After leaving Peace Corps, he entered graduate school to study plant biology and become an agricultural engineer, a latent dream from childhood that might never have been realized otherwise.
In August of 1988, a newly married Peace Corps couple just out of college, Kathleen and Jeff Marcove, were assigned to Papua New Guinea to work in Rural Community Development. They were sent to the Gumine District Station, in the rugged highland interior of the country, to be part of the South Simbu Rural Development Project. Funded by the World Bank, the project focused on agriculture, health, and women's affairs. Jeff did agriculture extension work, while Kathy served as a health and nutrition educator at a local health center. The village of Kaukau where they were living had about 20 families, most of whom were related to each other.
The Marcoves felt that the main contribution they could make was to find a few key people in the village who wanted to improve their lives and work with them to bring about change. "Our main goal was to transfer skills to people who had the ability and interest to share those skills with other community members; this way we could continue to help people long after we returned home."
In keeping with this philosophy, Kathy worked with other members of the health center staff to organize a health conference for women from the Gumine district. They urged the participants to share the information they learned with people in their communities. At least one woman, Angelina Mal from the village of Kaukau, took the suggestion seriously.
Mal began a series of mini-conferences in her village and brought up health issues at every possible opportunity - with women visiting the maternal and child health clinic, with her women's literacy class, even with people at the market. Kathy gave her resource materials, and Mal adapted the information so that her villagers could understand it. Mal was dedicated to helping her community, and Kathy became dedicated to supporting Mal's efforts.
A few months later, Kathy was invited to attend a health education conference sponsored by Save the Children, and she decided to take Mal with her. Although the conference was all in English and attended mostly by nurses, Mal understood enough of what was going on to take notes and discuss the information with Kathy, who helped to interpret it for her. They talked about how this information could be applied to their own village; they talked about Mal's dreams for her people, and how these dreams could be realized, brainstorming ideas for possible projects. Of all the ideas discussed, Mal was most excited about the prospect of starting an egg farm.
She had learned at the conference that her people were suffering from protein energy malnutrition, and that eggs could provide them with an easy, affordable source of the protein they needed. Although people in her district loved eggs, no one was raising hens to produce them, and buying eggs required an hour-and-a-half bus ride to the nearest town where they were sold. As Kaukau was situated at the beginning of the only road leading into the district, an egg farm located there would be able to corner the market.
Fortuitously, at the same time that Mal was considering starting an egg farm, the Peace Corps office in Papua New Guinea was organizing a workshop to introduce Small Project Assistance (SPA) to Volunteers. Kathy decided that Mal's egg farm would make a perfect SPA project. She discussed the subject with her husband, and the two of them agreed to support the project jointly. Negotiating with the Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD), they arranged to have Angelina Mal, her husband Bii, and Martius Weke (another leading Kaukau villager) attend the workshop with them.
The SPA workshop proved to be a turning point. It was the perfect place to begin organizing the egg production project because it took the group away from the village for a while to concentrate on what needed to be done. At the workshop, the Marcoves and their three Kaukau associates engaged in a series of exercises that forced them to focus on the project from all angles. They learned how to plan and implement the project, including how to do a needs assessment, brainstorm ideas, assign roles and responsibilities, determine who makes decisions, identify problems and solutions, and evaluate their efforts.
Later, they tried these same exercises in a mini-workshop in Kaukau, which they arranged for their fellow villagers. They also invited the leader of another village, and his people, to attend, because he had political influence in the District and even more important, a car!
Out of this mini-workshop came the decision to spend one morning a week planning the project. They used the SPA manual, Small Projects Design and Management, as Kathy said, "like a bible." They did all the exercises, followed all the directions, and defined the limits of responsibility. The Marcoves were the facilitators:
We developed the 'seed theory of development.' In the course of a conversation we casually dropped ideas, and never mentioned them again. If people came back to us with questions elaborating on the 'seed,' we 'fertilized' those ideas with further suggestions and ideas of where they could go for more information. We tried never to rally people behind us; instead we let them take the lead and we supported their efforts in any way we could, being especially careful not to make promises or commitments we could not keep. If what we were a part of was to last, it had to be born and bred within the people of the community it benefited.
Jeff helped on transportation and technical knowledge, while Kathy interpreted Peace Corps requirements and kept discussions on track. The villagers did the rest.
Kathy remembers the process this way:
I would arrive with my portable typewriter and sit, sometimes for hours, on the ground, in the middle of the village waiting for someone to tell me what to write. It is funny when I think back on it, they must have thought I was crazy. But one day, Joseph, a village member who had been very quiet up until now, handed me a piece of paper. Written in almost perfect English was the completed proposal. I was floored. It proved to me again that you get what you expect from people. I expected them to write the proposal, and they did.
As a requirement for receiving SPA funds, the villagers had to supply at least 25 percent of the project's costs, either in money, labor, or materials. The Marcoves estimated that because of the work the community put into the project, it was well over 50 percent. As a result, they felt "personally in vested" in its success. The Mals showed their commitment to the project by building a huge shed with a fence around it to house the chickens. Nearby, they planted a garden of greens to feed the chickens.
To teach the villagers about raising laying hens, the two PCVs arranged a field trip to a town nearby to visit the chicken farm of Steven and Jenny Pupune, who had been the Marcoves' hosts during their training. The Pupunes' business was so big that their eggs were being sold throughout the Highlands.
In a day spent with the Pupunes, the villagers learned how to raise chicks, what diseases to watch out for, the kinds of birds to buy, when to feed them, how much to feed them, the number of eggs they can produce, and the cost of doing business.
The Pupunes also helped the villagers prepare a list of ongoing responsibilities and a schedule of duties to be performed on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. As a parting gesture, the Pupunes presented the would-be farmers with five chickens to get them started.
Other people were contacted to help with the project. The prospective farmers spoke with the government's extension officer who specialized in poultry raising and who offered excellent advice on where to buy the least expensive feed and what to do when disease breaks out.
Most important, they met with all the key local leaders - the district manager, missionaries, school headmasters - to gain their support. This type of networking with the community played a crucial role in establishing a market for the eggs and interest among people who could help if help were needed. Once the farm was operating and eggs were available, for example, one of the people they contacted initially put in a standing order for six dozen eggs a week. The headmaster of the neighboring school advertised the business among his teachers and made a point of stopping the school truck by the egg stand whenever he brought the teachers to town for their shopping trip.
A major part of the planning process involved determining how to manage the finances. The villagers knew that as a first step they would need to open a bank account, but they had no experience, and it took considerable negotiation and almost six months before they decided on the particular bank and savings account. As Kathy said, "This was one of those instances when Jeff and I wanted so much to intervene and say just open an account at this bank. But we refrained knowing that it was much more important for the group to learn to come to agreement and to cooperate with each other than for us to make decisions for the sake of saving time. We believed that the process was much more important than the product."
Another major financial issue was the establishment of a savings strategy. After learning from the Pupunes the price they could charge per egg and per dozen, the villagers thought they would be making a fortune, but the PCVs helped them to think realistically about the continuing expenses - the cost of the chicks, feed, vaccinations, medicines, buckets, rope, nails, and all the other supplies for raising the chickens and marketing the eggs - that their earnings would need to cover. The Marcoves designed a simple bookkeeping system to foster a savings schedule that would make sure funds were available to purchase a new batch of chickens when the time came to do so. In the end, the decision was to keep 50 percent of the earnings in the bank to be used for expenses; the remaining 50 percent would be divided among the villagers as income.
The SPA application for the egg production farm was submitted three months after the SPA workshop. Once the funds were provided and the planning stage was over, the Marcoves became less involved. As the villagers were forced to act on their own, they began to realize that they could handle the project themselves. When they first bought the chicks, for example, Bii Mal slept in the shed with them. Still they got sick, but only one died because Bii Mal immediately got in touch with the extension officer and applied the medicine she prescribed.
As the chickens began producing eggs, Kathy taught the women various ways to prepare them. The women started selling cooked eggs in the market, and before they knew it, they had more orders for eggs than they could fill.
Since returning to the U.S., the Marcoves have continued receiving letters from the Mals about the egg farm and its continued success. They feel good about what happened in the Kaukau village, not so much because of what they did, but because of what the villagers did while the Marcoves were there. The villagers learned some valuable skills - how to handle money, how to work together, and how to plan for the future - skills that will be a permanent legacy, regardless of whether or not the egg farm survives.
At the end of 1989, Small Business Volunteer Frank Giarrizzo arrived in Malawi - a small, land-locked, African nation, the fifth poorest in the world - to work with USAID's Rural Enterprises and Agribusiness Development Institutions (READI) project. An older Volunteer, an engineer with many years of experience in business and management, he was assigned to prepare small-business start-up manuals for the project. READI was phasing out, and the manuals would provide guidelines and a written record of the knowledge READI had acquired in promoting small business development in Malawi.
As part of his Pre-Service Training, Giarrizzo spent a few days in three villages about 50 miles from the capital, Lilongwe, in the central portion of the country, where he would be living. Fortunately, his host in the village where he stayed had worked in Zimbabwe, spoke a little English, and was happy to accept Giarrizzo's offer of employment as his houseman in Lilongwe.
After working a while for Giarrizzo, the houseman asked his employer to hold most of his earnings as savings so he could start a chicken farm. Having heard from Peace Corps about the Trickle Up Program (TUP), a nonprofit organization that stimulates microenterprise development through start-up grants, Giarrizzo suggested that his houseman might want to join with other interested villagers and get TUP assistance to start his business earlier.
Giarrizzo applied to the organization to become a volunteer TUP Coordinator, and in the process, learned about a new enterprise-zone concept TUP was introducing, which would concentrate TUP supported businesses in a specific geographical area. His discussions with his houseman convinced Giarrizzo that the three villages in the Dowa district that had been the site of his home-stay training had the potential for becoming one of these enterprise zones.
In organizing this Hills of Dowa Enterprise Zone, or HODEZ as it came to be known, Giarrizzo was helped by his houseman, who was slated to be the next tribal chief and therefore had access to all the key people in the villages. Giarrizzo first met with the clan elders and village headmen to discuss the proposal with them and to gain their approval and support. The headmen next went to the Dowa District Commissioner and the local and district Malawi Congress party leadership to assure their support. Then, they sought approval from the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Community Services, who all were eager to cooperate. Although Giarrizzo's READI supervisor, a non-Malawian, at first strongly doubted that the project would succeed, he finally approved the use of READI office space, supplies, and equipment, recognizing that Giarrizzo had the time, expertise and enthusiasm to get the project off the ground.
Ironing out the details involved frequent meetings with the village headmen and the government agriculture extension officer who directed the farm program. The headmen took the lead in choosing the participants and the 12 young volunteer "training facilitators," who would be working with Giarrizzo to prepare the community survey, business plans, and business reports TUP required.
Because Giarrizzo did not live or work in the villages and could only be there on occasional weekends, the planners recognized that someone else would need to be in charge on a regular basis. With the help of his APCD John Barbee, Giarrizzo secured funds from the Lilongwe Rotary Club to hire a former primary school teacher as a "field supervisor." Also with his APCD's assistance, he obtained a supply of training manuals from ICE to assist him with the project. He used them especially in providing guidance and advice to the field supervisor and to the training facilitators, who had less than an eighth-grade education but with his support, were able to complete the community survey required by TUP. After discussing the information with them, Giarrizzo prepared the required documents for the TUP application.
The first of three TUP conditional, start-up grants of $50.00 each were approved in June 1990. Most went for farm inputs to establish 39 farmers groups, each one consisting of five or more members who had to be from the same clan. The clan leaders selected those whom the community survey indicated were "the poorest of the poor." To participate they had to agree to work together farming the one acre of land each group received from the village chief and adhere to TUP requirements of developing and following a business plan and reinvesting 20 percent of their profits into their farming enterprises.
With the PCV's help, the community's leaders worked out a business plan for these farming cooperatives. They agreed they would all raise the same cash crop - hybrid maize - and their plan contained projected costs, income, and profits.
These producer coops eventually joined together into one large marketing cooperative, the TUP Enterprise Zone Farmers Association (TUPEZA), which enabled them to get a better price for their farm outputs.
The farmers groups used one plot for demonstration purposes, with the agricultural extension officer providing the training. As the groups received their grants of seed and fertilizer to get their own plots started, the training facilitators monitored their efforts and helped each group produce a business plan and business report.
In addition to the farmers groups, four micro-enterprise groups were started - a bakery, grocery store, irrigated vegetable garden, and a chicken farm to produce and sell eggs. These groups each consisted of at least five members, but their selection was more competitive. Instead of being "the poorest of the poor," they tended to be the better educated. They received grants based on merit, awards going to the most innovative business plans that met village needs.
To deal with finances, early in the project, the village headmen and other community leaders, under Giarrizzo's guidance, submitted an application to the Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (MUSCCO) in Lilongwe to begin the process of forming a local savings and credit cooperative society. Using less than $5.00 of the TUP $50.00 start-up grant to pay membership dues, they started the Nafisi Study Club, named for a small nearby river, and received ledgers, deposit books, and other materials from MUSCCO. They needed at least another $1,200 to become a full-fledged MUSCCO Society. Before the year ended, with the profits from the first farmers groups' harvest and the second TUP grant, they had more than enough money to set themselves up as the Nafisi Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO).
In two months, this fledgling credit society became well established. With help from MUSCCO trainers, SACCO elected officers, appointed a board of directors, formed committees, set up an office in the community mud hut where TUPEZA was meeting, and hired a part-time manager.
By this time, the READI project had ended and Giarrizzo was now assigned to MUSCCO, giving him the advantage of being closely associated with the agency providing the technical training and materials to make SACCO possible. All business accounts were now kept in SACCO, and although not a TUP requirement, the farmers groups agreed to put their second TUP grants into their savings account to help capitalize the SACCO and provide enough credit to increase their farm production the following year.
Every one of the original farmers groups and micro-enterprise groups received a second grant. After a year, families in the farmers groups had doubled their annual incomes, while some of the non-farm businesses were earning in a month what the farmers were earning in a year.
Because of these initial success stories, the enterprise zone was extended to include seven more villages, with a total of 125 TUP-funded business groups. In the second year, after receiving assistance from a local soy processor, the farmers groups switched from growing hybrid maize to growing soybeans, a more profitable and more nutritional crop.
The original 39 farm groups expanded acreage from one acre to almost two-and-a-half acres in the second year. Sixty-five tons of hybrid maize were produced in the first year of the project and 85 tons of high-quality soybeans in the second year, despite the worst drought to hit Malawi in over 100 years.
Each one of the micro-enterprises also expanded. The grocery store added 30 to 40 new items, including children's clothing. The bakery, which used to bake bread in a hole in the ground, had a brick and metal oven built with outside help, and began to market its baked goods outside the village. The egg man had a second hen house built to accommodate more chickens and increase egg production, while the vegetable gardener began to supply the local hospital and secondary school with tomatoes and cabbages. With this increased economic activity, a new village market was built, and a local maize mill about to close down for lack of business resumed production.
Apart from generating income and consequently improving the economic life of the villagers, the Trickle Up Program brought concomitant educational, social and health benefits - an essential part of the Enterprise Zone philosophy. Now accustomed to working together, the villagers volunteered their time to add three new classrooms to a local primary school, using cement, lumber, and metal purchased with Rotary Club funds and a grant from Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance program. With additional space and increased family income to afford school fees, another teacher was brought in to handle the additional pupils. The villagers also used the construction materials to build a new well, which prompted the government to repair the old one, increasing the available water supply. Partly because of the
The 'hills of Dowa' enterprise zones project interest generated by the Enterprise Zone, the Ministry of Health for the first time provided a medical assistant to work in the villages.
When Giarrizzo ended his Peace Corps service, the PCV who was assigned to work with the Malawi Cooperative and Credit Society Organization succeeded him as TUP Coordinator. Unfortunately, a severe draught had weakened agricultural production, reducing farmers' income and savings. With the former supervisor no longer on the staff and the PCV unfamiliar with the procedures, the farmers failed to reserve the required savings and repay SACCO loans. Giarrizzo, who returned to Malawi for a visit, had to intervene, and through continued negotiations with the parties concerned, helped them reach a settlement.
The experience, however, underscored the need for PCVs to be careful about monitoring and documenting their activities, yet at the same time, cautious about assuming too much responsibility, lest they become indispensable. Repayment of loans continues to remain an issue, and TUPEZA has tried to compensate by demanding that first-year savings be forfeited if loans are not repaid.
Since leaving the Peace Corps, Giarrizzo has been trying to interest USAID in replicating HODEZ in other parts of Malawi, by means of a USAID project that provides Services for Health, Agriculture, Rural and Enterprise Development (SHARED). He was instrumental in organizing a group of people formerly associated with READI into the Village Enterprise Zones Association (VEZA), and returned to Malawi as a volunteer with the International Executive Service Corps to help write the USAID proposal. In 1993, VEZA became incorporated as a voluntary international organization headquartered in Chicago, with Giarrizzo as its first president.
When Stephanie Cox and Del Friedman, a husband and wife team from the Boston suburbs, left for their assignments in Nepal, they had already mapped out a secondary activity for themselves. They were going to train local people to repair braillewriters (or braillers as they are commonly called in the U.S.), the machines that emboss braille dots on paper for the blind to read.
Cox' interest was natural. Having just completed her doctorate in Special Education, she went to work with the Nepal Association for the Welfare of the Blind (NAWB), visiting schools around the country and consulting on special programs for visually impaired students. For seven years prior to joining the Peace Corps, she had been a teacher and administrator at the Perkins School for the Blind, where the leading braillewriters used throughout the world, the Perkins Braillers, are manufactured by the Howe Press.
Friedman's interest was less obvious. In contrast to Cox, Friedman had neither experience in teaching nor in special education. Formerly a manager of a computer company, his Peace Corps assignment was to teach computer programming to staff in the evaluation unit at Nepal's Ministry of Education. His wife's experience in teaching blind people, however, had piqued his own interest. He felt it was especially important in Nepal to help them because of the unusually high percentage of the country's population who suffers from cataracts and vitamin A deficiency, the leading causes of blindness. With his engineering background and mechanical aptitude, he was the perfect candidate to learn how braillers are put together.
Before she left for Nepal, Cox spoke with the former Director of International Services of Perkins School, Larry Campbell, about her Peace Corps assignment. One major obstacle, he told her, to teaching visually impaired students in Nepal would be finding enough braillers in working order to produce materials they could read. Another colleague, who had taught in Thailand, said how frustrated she had been trying to teach students without a working brailler and no clue how to fix it. She felt they needed a good operating brailler more than any teaching advice she could give them.
Having had discussions with Peace Corps about a possible cooperative program, Campbell thought that Cox's and Friedman's assignment to Nepal was an excellent opportunity to test his ideas. Together with the two prospective Volunteers and Leon Murphy, the repair training supervisor at Howe Press, they worked out an arrangement to have Cox and Friedman take some training in brailler repair before they left for Nepal. Under Murphy's tutelage, Cox was given a basic, 12-hour course in cleaning and adjusting the machines, while her husband was given a complete 40-hour course on the repair and maintenance of Perkins Braillers.
Once they arrived in Nepal and started working as Peace Corps Volunteers, they began putting their training into practice. As Cox began touring the country, she found that most of the approximately 30 Perkins Braillers in the 21 programs and special schools for the blind operating countrywide needed repair. Each time she came across a broken brailler she brought it to Friedman for fixing.
Friedman and Cox, however, were not simply interested in repairing these braillers, but in transferring skills to Nepalese people. They had made these intentions clear in a letter they sent to an Education Specialist at Peace Corps headquarters after completing their training at the Perkins School. They waited to put these ideas into practice, however, until after they were well established in the country. Although Cox's supervisor and co-workers at the NAWB were happy to have the braillers repaired as soon as possible, Cox felt it was important to wait until she and her husband had their complete trust and confidence, before discussing plans for a brailler repair training.
In their second year of service, when Cox began discussing the training program with her co-workers, they approved the idea but questioned the PCV's recommendation that the trainees be local typewriter repair people and not teachers of the visually impaired. The staff at NAWB wanted a program that would enable teachers to clean their own machines and keep them in running order as part of their job. Cox and Friedman, however, saw the need for a professional repair service and had already learned from the unsuccessful experience of a Perkins School instructor in Thailand that the teachers were unlikely to have the mechanical aptitude required. Eventually, Cox and Friedman's opinion prevailed and the NAWB staff was convinced that these complicated, expensive machines required regular servicing by someone equipped to take them apart and do the necessary repairs.
Once the issue of the trainees was settled, then plans could move ahead. Based on their own training and experience and with technical assistance from a colleague with Christoffel-Blindenmission (CBM), a German voluntary organization specializing in programs for the blind, Cox and Friedman designed a twoweek course of study. The Perkins School agreed to provide the tools, repair manuals, and enough brailler spare parts to last for six months - the length of time the PCVs had remaining in their Peace Corps service. The NAWB agreed to provide a room in its headquarters, with a large table in the middle, as the training site. On the NAWB's behalf, the PCVs submitted a proposal to Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance program (SPA) for a grant to pay for trainee allowances, training materials, and administrative costs to operate a repair service for six months. CBM agreed to continue subsidizing the service if it got off the ground, once the grant ran out.
The NAWB identified two people as the first trainees. They were both in the typewriter repair business, and the organization had employed their services on several occasions. Apart from their technical abilities, these two men were eager to take the training and make up for the loss in business they were suffering as computers were beginning to make typewriters almost obsolete. Friedman would be their chief trainer.
In a mixture of Nepali and English, Friedman began the training by briefly introducing his two students to braille and the use of the brailler. From that point onward, the trainees spent their time in hands-on instruction. Notwithstanding their limited English, they were able to learn how to use the manual, to follow the diagrams, and to identify over 100 different brailler parts with their correct inventory numbers. After two weeks, they knew how to repair braillers.
As a result of their training, the two repairmen entered into a contract with the NAWB to do annual maintenance of the Perkins Braillers. The NAWB would provide the tools and spare parts; the repairmen would be paid on a piecework basis, on a scale depending on the amount of work required.
Cox and Friedman prepared a detailed inventory of all the brailler parts that the Perkins School had donated. With SPA funds, Cox and NAWB's Chief Administrator Madhav Arjyal purchased a large cabinet where the tools and brailler parts could be locked up and stored. A carpenter was hired to build the boxes for storing the equipment.
Six months later when Cox and Friedman were leaving the country, just about all of the braillers were in working order. To keep them in good repair, the NAWB with Cox designed a schedule for annual maintenance. Also, to make servicing easier, the organization had steel boxes constructed and lined with foam so that the braillers could be safely transported from village schools to the service center at NAWB headquarters in Kathmandu.
Contacting the NAWB after they left the country, Friedman and Cox learned that the organization had delayed following through on the maintenance schedule because construction of a new building was taking priority, but intended to concentrate on brailler repair once the building was completed. Shortly afterwards, they received a letter from the NAWB indicating that the organization had begun to inform schools about the service and the repairmen had successfully repaired several braillers.
In 1990, the first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Eastern Europe. Among them was Nancy Picard, an English major who had worked in public relations and was being assigned to Sopron, Hungary, to serve as a TEFL teacher. Having written a report on local government in Hungary for the International City Management Association, Picard was more knowledgeable about the country than were most Volunteers, yet still was suprised by some of the conditions she found there.
Picard began teaching in a high school, one of two in a town of 60,000 located on the border with Austria. She soon picked up other assignments: teaching an evening class for adults and an afternoon class for children; teaching a group of railroad station employees; and tutoring fellow teachers. She also assisted the local forestry university as a judge during the state examinations. Because the demand for English teachers was so great, she often returned home to find people waiting outside her door, hoping to learn the language from a native English-speaker.
Apart from these various teaching assignments, as a member of the first group of PCVs in Hungary, Picard, like her fellow Volunteers, spent her first year gathering information about the school system and Hungarian society in general. The Peace Corps staff in Budapest had told the Volunteers to be flexible, to develop their own questions, and to find out the answers.
From the outset, she became concerned about one issue she had not considered a serious problem before: the role of women in Hungary. On one particular day four or five months after she arrived at her site, she was teaching a class of high school seniors using Dear Abby columns to discuss with them how to give advice. One of the articles was about a 16-year-old girl who was being beaten by her boyfriend. After discussing the article, the girls in the class gave this advice: "No, she should not go to the police; the police do nothing... She should find out why her boyfriend wanted to hit her and try to work things out...No, we don't have this problem in Hungary."
These responses shocked Picard, but at the same time reinforced the impressions she already had of Hungarian women's opinion of themselves. Her female friends had told her their stories of loneliness and isolation, attempted suicides, and low salaries not keeping pace with inflation. In involving herself more deeply in her community's activities, learning the language, and interacting with many different people, she saw how much women were being excluded from playing a major role in Hungarian society.
Several international and aid-based organizations visiting Sopron offered instructional and informational aid but were clearly directed towards men only. A few of Picard's friends who were women had attended some of these meetings and had felt excluded.
Peace Corps' Women in Development (WID) newsletter, The Exchange, showed Picard that similar problems existed worldwide for women, and that Volunteers had initiated and supported many activities to assist women in taking part in their community life. One article in particular affected her. It told of a woman in Thailand who had turned around her feelings of powerlessness and depression by organizing a women's conference where women's issues could be aired. Picard thought that if a women's organization existed in Sopron, then there would be a structure for women to communicate with each other. It might also serve as a channel for women to receive some direct economic assistance from international donors.
First and most important, she had to determine if the women of her town were interested. She spoke with close friends, both men and women, about a women's organization and its benefits for the community. A teacher colleague whom Picard was tutoring in English was enthusiastic about the idea. At the advice of another colleague, a Hungarian English teacher, Picard wrote a letter to the local government, which this teacher translated, requesting space for a women's organization to meet. The letter was given to the mayor. Two weeks later it was returned: The local government had no space and no money.
Picard's translator was quite happy to give up the effort to start a group. After many discussions, it became clear that she was concerned that she might be persecuted for initiating any self-assistance efforts. She was worried that her name would be put on a list and given to local police and other authorities, and that she would be harassed.
Picard began to realize the difficulties and sensitivities of what at first had seemed to be a simple task: coming together and speaking and sharing. The legacy of the former political system had made Hungarians fearful, jealous, and suspicious of each other and mistrustful of themselves and their ability to move forward.
In late September, Picard with the help of her translator wrote another letter, this one more personal and directed to individuals, detailing the benefits of a women's club and including a reply questionnaire to be filled out if the individual was interested. Picard and the other teacher who was enthusiastic about a women's organization spent several hours, two or three times a week, handing out the letters door to door in the town. As they did so, the teacher explained the idea of the club, generating a lot of discussion in the process.
One of the women who received a letter offered a place in a downtown language school for the group to meet. With an approximate 15 percent return on the questionnaires, the PCV and her fellow organizer chose a date to hold the first meeting, and together with the other teacher wrote letters to the women who had responded. The local newspaper heard of the event and published an article on the front page about Picard and the meeting. On Friday, December 13,1991, billed as a "Lucky meeting on an unlucky day," 40 women gathered together.
The first meeting was spent answering questions about the purpose and possibilities of a women's club. One woman suggested that all of the women present mention why they had come. Some were looking for English lessons; others, for company; still others, for business and personal advice. The group decided to meet again after Christmas vacation.
Armed with information from The Exchange and correspondence with women's organizations in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe, Picard facilitated the first meeting; volunteers from the group facilitated each meeting afterwards. Using procedures and exercises described in Women Working Together, a manual distributed to Volunteers by Peace Corps' ICE and originally produced by OEF International, the women adapted the sessions to Central European situations in order to gather information about Hungarian women and their lives. The women also worked to obtain the necessary approval to officially register the organization.
The Sopron Women's Club, as it came to be known, met once every two weeks. Picard met with the facilitators in advance to prepare them for their role. The meetings were announced in the local newspaper, and several times, curious husbands and boyfriends came along to observe the activities. The Hungarian English teacher helped out as a translator whenever Picard had a problem making herself understood.
After awhile, it became clear that the women had many questions that could be more easily answered in a conference-type setting, with Hungarian speakers who could discuss topics the women had identified as of great importance to them: legal issues, environmental concerns, family psychology, business skills, body image, and others. The perception of Hungarians giving Hungarians advice might help to promote self-sufficiency.
The women agreed to arrange a WID conference, entitled "Coming Together," to be held in Sopron in May. One of the Education APCDs, Kathy Rulon, suggested that Picard apply to Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance (SPA) program to fund the conference. Picard applied, but in the meantime went ahead with helping to organize the conference.
Picard and her group sent letters of invitation to women all over Hungary. They used the registry from the American-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce plus additional names suggested by Peace Corps staff to prepare the list of invitations. Included were representatives from the Green Women of Hungary, the Hungarian Association of Entrepreneurial Women, the Budapest University of Economics, and an international peace organization based in Berlin. The women were ambivalent about inviting members of the Feminist Network because of their distrust of the term "feminist," but eventually invited them after being convinced by Picard of the need to have different facets of women's lives represented. (A member of the organization spoke at the conference about the history of feminism and was well received.)
In planning the conference, the women organized themselves into various committees, which met weekly. The teacher who had worked with Picard from the very beginning agreed to be the conference chairperson, and several women from the community were willing to facilitate sessions. The Hungarian English teacher translated all the background documents for the conference brochure.
Attendance at the Women's Club meetings fluctuated during the several months before the conference. The women were anxious and concerned that the conference would not take place, yet when they invited speakers, such as a child psychologist, to their meetings, attendance rose, so they had some reason to believe the conference would draw an audience.
Peace Corps' WID Coordinator sent a consultant in March to help with a needs assessment, and Zsuzsana Rawlinson, the other APCD for Education, provided the main link for Picard with the Peace Corps office in Budapest. In the meantime, before they knew they would receive SPA funding, the women began asking local businesses to support the conference. One local computer center donated $150 worth of photocopying and typing of the conference packet. A local hotel and conference center rented the group rooms at a 50 percent discount.
Once the SPA funds arrived, another woman used some of the budget to produce posters and flyers, which were distributed around the town. Articles and newspaper interviews with Picard and her Hungarian partner began circulating as well. The two women were also interviewed on a local radio station. Members of Picard's adult evening class participated, too, helping as photographers and with other small jobs. Eleven PCVs who attended the conference helped with the last-minute details of making signs and buying supplies.
Peace Corps' WID Coordinator arrived in town a few days before the conference to conduct several training sessions with the local facilitators and PCV counterparts. She also provided needed advice and kept things calm during a generally hectic three days.
When the conference day arrived, the wife of the U.S. Ambassador gave the opening address. More than 100 people attended the conference, which lasted two days. With such high-level participants as a member of the Hungarian Parliament, the acting mayor of Sopron, and the U.S. Ambassador, the conference generated considerable publicity and was reported in all the country's newspapers.
A highpoint of the conference was a panel discussion by entrepreneurial women, which demonstrated what Hungarian women were able to do. The conference also served as a marketplace for local business women, providing these entrepreneurs with needed income and reinforcing the message that local women could succeed on their own.
Overall, the conference was evaluated a success by those who attended. In reviewing it, the women of the Club thought that more time should have been allotted to informal discussion, and more diverse women's groups should have been invited.
After the conference, the women took a summer recess. The Club revived somewhat when the International Executive Service Corps, a volunteer organization based in Stamford, Connecticut, sponsored a week-long business course in Sopron for Club members, but it was difficult for the group to reorganize on a regular basis. With funding for office supplies, but having lost their meeting room, the members had difficulty arranging meetings.
With Rawlinson and Picard's assistance, the woman who had acted as the conference chairperson went on a U.S. Information Agency "Foreign Visitor's Program" to the United States the following summer in order to meet and talk with various women's organizations. She returned to Sopron and began organizing the Women's Club again.
The conference was repeated the following year on a larger scale by the Foundation for the Women of Hungary, and the Sopron representatives were able to network in Budapest for more contacts and information. They had become self-sufficient in working with other Hungarians.
To document her experience with the Women's Club, Picard prepared a report for her fellow Volunteers, including the materials she used and tips for anyone who wants to follow her example. After completing her Peace Corps service, Picard obtained a contract from a local organization to spend some additional months in Hungary, continuing with her writing and community development activities. She also worked to support the efforts of PCVs in Poland to promote a women's organization in Poland similar to the Sopron Women's Club.
BY SUSAN WILLETT
As a community development worker on Yap, I was aware that my success depended on my ability to recognize and be attuned to local cultural values. A community development advisor must first examine and understand the culture as a whole before assuming any task.
Culture is not what people do, but the ideas and standards that guide their behavior. By respecting and understanding these ideas and standards, a community development advisor can begin to see and hear people's needs and wants.
These are the principles I followed in the project I designed as a Volunteer on the island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia, where I served from 1986 to 1988. I had a dual assignment as community development advisor and English language teacher.
In Yap, for cultural continuity and safety, Volunteers must live with Yapese families. I lived with a large extended family, who adopted me as one of their own. During my first few months of service, my Yapese father became my mentor. He taught me many customs and treated me like one of his own daughters, not an outsider. In fact, he inspired the project I am describing here.
In teaching oral English to elementary school children, one reward technique I used was to read aloud a story every Friday after a weekly quiz. I discovered from testing the students' comprehension that they understood best those stories relevant to their culture. Legends from Africa and Australia made more sense to them than did such American classics as Mary Had a Little Lamb or Johnny Appleseed. Unless adapted, these classics were confusing: Apple trees became mango trees and rivers became oceans.
I saw a need for culturally relevant storybooks for these children that would be available to them in English. In considering this need, I remembered my conversations with my Yapese father, in which he had said, "There are a lot of Yapese stories for kids," and began to think of ways to make use of these stories.
The Yapese people, like other peoples of the world, have an abundant store of oral legends. Many are like Aesops' Fables: They teach social values and customs.
Only 50 years ago, education consisted of parents teaching their children basic survival skills by having families gather together at night to listen to their elders recite. Storytelling taught children the customs and values necessary to be a respected Yapese community member; the stories children heard at night reinforced what their parents had taught them during the day.
These legends are familiar to most people on the island, but virtually none are available in printed form. I began to search for these legends. My father was too ill to recite any for me, so I asked my school principal to tape record one. I also wrote to every regional research center, university, and museum in the Pacific Basin, asking if they had any of these stories translated and printed.
The few I received proved to me that these printed legends could be useful in the classroom as a way of teaching Yapese values and customs. Yap, like all rapidly changing societies, has had a problem accommodating the old culture to the new. As one Yapese gentleman told me, "It's kind of mixed up." Yap society asserts, "Obey the local customs"; however, it accepts some Western influences that challenge those same customs. The problem is especially difficult for Yapese children, whose information in school comes from outside sources. Students cannot productively shape a value system when contrasting their lessons in school with what they learn at home.
I therefore asked permission to work with the Yap State Department of Education to develop an English language curriculum based on the traditional Yapese legends. The objective was to give students a solid foundation for them to judge the past and the present and compare the two so that they could reach their own decisions. I received permission and began working with the social studies curriculum writer, who became my counterpart.
The project blossomed. My counterpart showed me two drawers full of transcribed legends and handed me an index dated ten years previously. I suggested he collect and translate some legends and I would polish them. He asked some elders to recite them, and in a month's time, we had collected, transcribed, translated, and edited ten legends.
While I was on vacation, my counterpart had the legends illustrated. When I returned, he proudly showed them to me. I was thrilled!
Given the Yapese culture, it did not seem realistic to expect the project to continue moving so quickly. I made incremental goals of each step, rather than focusing on the end product as the one major goal. I did not want anyone to lose interest. I wanted to help them through each step of the project to have them learn the necessary skills, so that one day those drawers of legends might become an economic resource for the people.
Our next step was to devise lesson plans for each legend aimed at reinforcing the values it expressed. The chief curriculum writer, my counterpart and I met to discuss different types of lesson formats and decided that each of us would be responsible for writing up one. We would present all of them at our next meeting so that we could merge our ideas and create a suitable format to write an individual lesson plan for each legend.
At our next meeting, I presented my work; however, my colleagues had done nothing. They praised and accepted my work but no assistance followed. I could not figure out what had happened to our teamwork.
At this point, I knew I had the following choices: I could let the project be shelved again; I could continue the project alone; or I could back off for awhile and seek advice on Yapese culture, in an attempt to reestablish a working team.
I chose to seek advice. I sat down with my APCD, whom I viewed not simply as an administrator filling out forms and signing papers, but as a friend and valuable resource person.
He explained to me that Yapese people placed a great deal of importance on discussing ideas; that unlike Westerners, Yapese people do not make decisions quickly but need time to think things over thoroughly. He told me they react this way because they live in an island society, a closed society, where people must be extremely careful not to offend anyone because they know each other and live together all their lives. A wrong decision, especially concerning their oral history, could bring about adverse community feeling toward the State Department of Education and/or Peace Corps.
I followed his advice and tried again. I slowed down and quit making decisions for my team members. I waited. At times, decisions were made after five minutes of silence; other times, I waited weeks. More important, I accepted their decisions without criticizing or judging them; I left all decisions in their hands.
The project got back on track. It took longer and was more difficult to accomplish than it would have been if I had operated alone, but we finished the lesson plans together. My teammates' input was essential for community acceptance of our project.
My counterpart organized a pilot test in some of the elementary schools, which we conducted and evaluated. We agreed on some changes, did the final editing, then submitted the material for approval. Once approval was granted, we pasted the material together, and my counterpart coordinated the process of having it printed as a book.
Throughout the project, we always discussed the possibility of publishing the legends and drawings together because we liked the drawings of our talented illustrator. I discussed the idea with the axgovernor of Yap, and we agreed it would best be accomplished if we had the book copyrighted in the name of the Yapese people. Any monetary proceeds could then be used for a public library. At the moment, only the high school and the Peace Corps office have a library, and there is no bookstore on Yap.
During my last three months of service, we collected, translated and edited 30 legends to compile a second book. My counterpart and I were distributing it around the office when the head of curriculum approached us and asked. "Sue, what do you think about publishing this?" I replied, "That's a great idea! You know the procedure better than I do" - and he did. The end result was Yapese Legends, a book of stories in English, written and produced by the Yapese people. The Story of Manbuth, which appears here, is one of these legends.
When I think back on this project, I realize that it accomplished more than I had anticipated. From a personal standpoint, I learned a valuable lesson: It is easy to say one must work within the culture, but it is not easy to do. I knew the importance of being culturally sensitive; yet, without realizing it, I had imposed my Western work ethics on the Yapese, and they resisted.
I realized my mistake and sought advice in order to establish a solid working relationship with my teammates and work within the Yapese culture to finish the project together. Doing so took patience and perseverance, and I had to set aside my personal values about work.
From the community's point of view, the project's main accomplishment was not the books it produced, but the skills learned in producing them and the discovery that they could be an economic resource. Community development is not writing books, but giving people confidence in their own potential, making them aware of opportunities and providing them with choices.
I saw my role as a catalyst for the Yapese people to develop their folklore for their own practical use, as storybooks for children, and as an export commodity to provide the capital for a community service - a public library. They have a process now for capitalizing on a unique resource, whereas before they only had two drawers of transcribed legends collecting dust. They also have a sense of community pride.
In previous chapters we described in detail seven different examples of Peace Corps Volunteers who successfully developed secondary activities as part of their Peace Corps service. Our interest was to show how they did it - who originated the idea; how the activity got started; who did what; the problems that arose; and how they were resolved.
If our analysis seemed to suggest that the process is more important than the activities themselves, the sampling in this chapter should show that both are important.
To make reading easier, we have grouped the activities into 12 different categories - Appropriate Technology and Energy; Arts and Entertainment; Business; Construction; Environmental Education; Health Education; Literacy; Recreation for Children and Youth; Resource Centers and Libraries; Services for People with Special Needs; Volunteer and Vocational Training; and Work with Women. These categories are not mutually exclusive, however, and an activity that focuses on women in development may also help business, promote the arts, and use appropriate technology. For that reason, we suggest at least glancing at all the examples offered to stimulate your own thinking about what you'd like to do to enhance your Peace Corps experience.
Some of the activities were initiated by the PCVs themselves; they saw a need and came up with an answer that was personally appealing. Others were ongoing efforts started by local individuals and organizations to improve their communities, which PCVs joined either on their own initiative or at the behest of these community groups.
You should understand that in selecting these activities, we intended to give you an idea of the types and variety of activities, not to do a survey of what interests Volunteers the most. That "Business" seems the most popular is understandable: People assume that income-generation can make a large and immediate difference in their lives; it is also a prime motivation for getting people to participate in an activity and to continue to do so after the Volunteer has left.
With respect to Environmental Education and Work with Women, however, while these undoubtedly are popular themes, their visibility in our sample also reflects the materials we had at hand - copies of The Exchange and case studies of Peace Corps projects prepared by the Environment Sector. The same is true of the Volunteers' role in fund-raising: Its prominence in our sample reflects the source of our information, not its importance as a secondary activity. Much of our information came from SPA and Peace Corps Partnership files, which consist of PCV applications for assistance. While Volunteers do get involved in fund-raising because of their contacts and perceived expertise, they are encouraged to rely as much as possible on local resources so that communities can learn to help themselves.
In our sample, we have included every region, but not necessarily every country in which Volunteers serve. Were we taking a Gallup-type poll, we're sure that every Peace Corps country would have success stories to add to our list. Still, our examples do show what's possible when PCVs put their talents to work.
Automating Services in Fiji
A PCV in Fiji decided to put his computer skills to good use by helping the govenment's Water Authority institute an automated system for serving its clients, advising the Authority on the hardware and software needed. He also assisted the Peace Corps Office with its computer needs, setting up the Email network and making sure it was operational.
Lighting a School Library in Uganda
With a degree in Architectural Engineering, this PCV wanted to make his math and science classes as interesting as possible by engaging the students in practical activities. Although he had no formal training in solar energy, he decided that devising a way to light the school library by using solar energy would be a perfect activity for his students.
Collecting information from ICE and other sources, he integrated the installation of a solar lighting system into his students' curriculum. Securing funding through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, he was able to purchase a solar lighting system and receive training from the supplier. Apart from lighting the school library, the activity sparked interest throughout Uganda in solar electrification.
Making Solar Cookers in Kenya
"Solar Cooker a Sensation: Housewives impressed by this 'clean' device," - so read the headline of a feature article in a local daily newspaper about an agroforestry PCV's work in Kenya.
Using an old gramophone box, this PCV constructed an efficient solar cooker and proudly shared it with a women's group she was assisting. The women were pleasantly surprised and genuinely impressed that this simple device could cook a variety of foods, preserve the environment, and allow them to attend to other chores while cooking. Word of the "magic" cooking box spread quickly, and women throughout the area began experimenting with building their own solar cookers out of cardboard boxes and aluminum foil. Through the work of this one PCV, the technology and practice of solar cooking became a reality in Kenya.
Providing Solar Energy in the Dominican Republic
As a loan officer for a local agency, a Business PCV saw a way to integrate his primary assignment with a secondary activity in rural solar electrification. Gaining the support of his supervisor, he and his counterpart received training on photovoltaic technology conducted by an organization called Enersol, Inc., which donated and installed a demonstration solar system in the counterpart's home. Once they saw the system, the villagers wanted one in their homes.
Responding to their interest, the PCV set up a solar energy revolving fund for the villagers to borrow money with which to purchase the system. In one year, 80 solar systems were installed, creating a new business for the PCV's counterpart. Five years after the PCV departed, the counterpart and an assistant he was able to hire had installed over 500 systems and had set up their own credit fund.
Reporting on Coconut Oil as an Energy Source in Micronesia
An innovative PCV in Micronesia who had an extensive background and interest in engineering and science decided to explore coconut oil as an alternative energy source, in hopes of increasing the energy independence of the outlying island where he was living. He set out to prove that coconut oil could be locally produced, at reasonable cost, and used without harmful effects.
He conducted a systematic investigation and comparison of coconut oil versus diesel oil, and found that although an engine running on coconut oil needed to be cleaned more often, it ran smoother, at a cooler temperature, and had more horsepower than it did when running on diesel oil. In short, coconut oil was easier on the engine, and was, indeed, a viable alternative to diesel oil. The PCV published his findings in a widely circulated report that provided valuable information to many nations throughout the Pacific Basin.
Creating a Museum of Living Nature in Hungary
A PCV assigned to the town of Vac in Hungary wanted to learn more about local culture and made several visits to the "Cultural House." After getting to know the people involved, she became interested in their desire to create a museum of living things.
They wanted to acquire new specimens and exhibit them on a mobile display to schools around the area. Unfortunately, no money was available to construct the display cases. As a result of the PCV's proposal to Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance program, the project was awarded a grant large enough to make the Museum of Living Nature a reality before she ended her tour of service.
Educating the Community through Theater in Benin
Meeting with local health, school, and community leaders, a PCV in Benin discussed an idea she had of using drama as a tool for community development. With their support, she organized a meeting for anyone in her rural community interested in planning an evening of entertainment providing education on such topics as health, AIDS, education, and women's issues.
The idea took hold, and a seven-member advisory committee was formed, with the director of the social center serving as facilitator. An acting troupe of 12 members rehearsed its first production, which premiered on International Women's Day.
Although the PCV had been concerned that the villagers would not accept nor be interested in the presentations, over 400 people attended the premiere. The advisory committee unanimously decided to continue to plan presentations with smaller troupes of actors traveling to 12 rural villages to perform mini-sketches every other week, reaching an audience of over 5,000 people. These performances not only entertained and educated the community, but also served to assess community needs and determine possible solutions.
Establishing a Radio Station in Albania
From reading the news in English on the local radio station to becoming the news anchor on television, one TEFL Volunteer is now moving ahead another step in bringing the world to Albania. At the request of the Tirana mayor and a hotel director, he is starting the first independent FM radio station in the country.
An experienced broadcaster in the U.S., the PCV will be teaching and training Albanians to operate the station. The International Media Fund in Washington, D.C., has agreed to provide up to $25,000 for the project, and the PCV has already received support from his former colleagues, who have sent him information about the equipment and expenses required to get the station underway.
Organizing a Community Fair in Mauritania
A PCV from a rural community in Iowa decided to try a favorite event from home - a county fair - as a way to promote regional products and exchange information about improving agriculture, health, and craft techniques. Though it had never been tried in Mauritania, she was able to rally all the PCVs in her area, her APCD, and local leaders to participate in the one-day event. The fair was an overwhelming success with over 20 organized exhibits, displays, demonstrations, crafts, and vaccinations for children. It proved so successful that it was adopted by the Mauritanians as an annual event.
Painting a World Map on School Walls in the Dominican Republic
This activity, now famous in Peace Corps, was started by an Environmental Education PCV in the Dominican Republic, who discovered that very little material was available to teach Dominican students geography. Using a world map from the National Geographic, simple geometry, some paint, and a group of enthusiastic students and teachers, this creative PCV transformed a barren school auditorium wall into a colorful and educational world map.
The activity's simplicity is half its success, as it has been reproduced in nearly all the countries where Peace Corps Volunteers serve. PCVs have adapted the idea to suit their particular communities by introducing creative color schemes and innovative labeling techniques. The PCV who developed this idea wrote a manual describing the project in full, and as an RPCV, she has continued to conduct workshops on making world maps. Her manual has since been revised and published by Peace Corps' Information Collection and Exchange. Also, World Wise Schools is incorporating her material into a Study Guide for teachers to instruct their students in mathematics, geography, cultural anthropology and the many other subjects that map-making applies to.
Practicing English at the Drama Festival in Hungary
Two creative and ambitious PCVs have begun an annual Drama Festival in Vac, Hungary, which helps secondary-school students use their newly learned English in an entertaining way. Planning for the event begins months in advance, with the PCVs coordinating and encouraging schools to prepare and practice their presentations.
Over one thousand students from four regions of Hungary and neighboring Slovakia and Romania participated in the first round of the competition. The final round was held two weeks later, with the Peace Corps staff and the U.S. Ambassador serving as judges for over 100 productions.
Teaching Children to Play the Piano in Micronesia
Once her Micronesian friends discovered she was a former piano teacher, one PCV was overwhelmed with requests to give children piano lessons. Besides learning how to play the piano, her students learned about American culture through music.
Assisting a Technical College in Lithuania
A PCV assigned to a business center in Lithuania is assisting the business program at the local technical college. Still new to her activity, she intends to offer support in a variety of ways. Her plans include lecturing on business management and marketing; helping to establish an internship program for the students; and organizing a college English club, locating U.S. pen pals to correspond with their Lithuanian counterparts.
Establishing a Junior Achievement Society in Fiji
The Junior Achievement Society in Fiji owes its beginnings to one Volunteer, who contacted the Society and organized the initial group as a secondary activity. The PCV extended for a year in order to test the feasibility of making Junior Achievement (JA) a part of the Peace Corps/Fiji program. Recognizing the merits of JA for youth development, Peace Corps/Fiji then assigned a Business Volunteer to work as a training officer, using JA materials to train other PCVs as well as local teachers and business people to conduct Junior Achievement programs throughout the country. By 1995, over 1,500 young people had participated in these programs.
Initiating a Women's Ranking System in Honduras
FINCA, the Foundation for International Community Assistance, emphasizes and promotes women's banks in developing countries, believing that grassroots development starts with women. Hearing a presentation at a Small Business Development workshop, a PCV in Honduras decided to introduce the concept to her community. She initiated a series of meetings, which resulted in a group of women organizing themselves to form a bank.
The PCV served as business advisor and liaison between the community and FINCA representatives. The women selected officers and members, drew up by-laws, and decided who should receive loans. In addition to the formation of a strong bank, the women's decision-making skills, self-esteem, and confidence thrived. In short, their lives had improved as much as their pocket books.
Making Drums in Jamaica
With a love of music and inspired by local calypso rhythms, a PCV assigned to teach agriculture to secondary students in Richmond, Jamaica, decided to try organizing a dance band among his students. Unfortunately, they had neither enough instruments nor money to buy them. Skilled in woodworking as well, the PCV decided to make the instruments. After trying his hand at making a guitar and a banjo, he engaged a group of his woodworking students to join him in making drums, several of which were later sold. Before he left Jamaica, he secured from the Ministry of Agriculture a workshop for five of the students to continue the project as a small enterprise. Now calling themselves "The Richmond Drum Makers," they were able to produce a variety of percussion instruments, selling them for about a quarter of the price of the local imports.
Oryanizing a Multi-Purpose Handicraft Center Tonga
On a remote island in Tonga, women were making beautiful handicrafts, but they had no place to display and sell their creations. Together with their PCV, representatives from local churches, and support from the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific, they designed a multipurpose Handicraft Center where the craft work could be marketed and skills could be shared. With additional funding from the Tonganese Central Planning Department and the Australian Government, they built the Handicraft Center and developed the cooperative. The PCV oversaw the establishment of the Center and processed the paperwork through the proper channels. Handicrafts proved to be a promising option in generating supplementary income for the entire community.
Processing Corn in Guatemala
During a regular town meeting called by the mayor, the community decided that it needed a corn grinding mill so that the women would not have to spend eight hours a day, every day, grinding corn for tortillas. The PCV assigned to this village realized that the community needed help in acquiring funding for the corn grinding mill.
She began by approaching several local agencies, none of which showed any interest in supporting an activity in such a remote part of the country. After receiving information about the Peace Corps Partnership Program, she organized group meetings to write the proposal for funding. With funding approved, the corn grinding mill was soon under construction.
Once operational, the corn grinding mill transformed the village. People now had time to establish home gardens, greatly improving the nutrition of all. Moreover, the corn grinding mill was so efficient that it was capable of grinding much more corn than the village needed. For a small fee, the villagers began to grind the corn of neighboring villages. Soon the mill was turned into a cooperative, generating income for the entire community. The activity was so successful that the PCV assisted another remote village to acquire its own corn grinding mill.
Producing Manioc Flour in Benin
The women of Darvolhove wanted to find a way to generate some income and to educate themselves about taking better care of their children. They decided to form a women's cooperative, fashioned after the men's cooperative, to organize their production of manioc flour into a small business.
Needing help finding funds to build a storage and meeting facility, they approached the PCV assigned to their village. The PCV began by serving as teacher to the group. She helped them set up a bank account to begin managing money and learning how small businesses work. With their assistance, she then prepared a proposal to secure funds from Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance program.
The project was funded, and construction of a three-room building began immediately, providing space to hold meetings and to store the manioc flour and tools. Using knowledge the PCV had taught them about money management, the women began tracking and saving their money. They also acquired new skills to make their production more efficient, soon becoming an example to other women in the area, as the Bobognon ("Working Together is Good") Cooperative.
Producing Quilts in Tunisia
Before joining the Peace Corps, one PCV couple had a successful quilting business in the United States. Their fascination with Tunisian carpet making and a concern about the limited opportunities for women living in rural Tunisia led them to initiate a self-sufficient income-generating quilt-making activity for Tunisian women, using skills they already had and enjoyed.
Securing funding with a grant from Save the Children, the couple engaged two local people to work with them and establish continuity. One served as an office advisor, the other as a sewing instructor.
Together, the four of them developed a culturally appropriate quiltmaking training program. The course covered quilting, basic business skills, bookkeeping, and literacy. Forty-eight women between the ages of 12 and 24 participated in the four-month training course, held at what came to be known as the Ouled Boughdir Quilt Making Center. The quilts produced by the Center gained a reputation for consistent high quality, and the activity was represented at a small-scale enterprise seminar in Cyprus.
Raising Rabbits in Benin
As is often the case in Peace Corps, a PCV science teacher in Benin found herself responsible for animal husbandry classes as well. Responding to her students' fascination with rabbits, she decided to have them try raising rabbits, learning how to care for them, and at the same time generating some income for the school by selling some of the rabbits they raised.
Once her students were sufficiently knowledgeable, she gave them complete responsibility for constructing the rabbit hutches, feeding, medicating, and controlling the rabbit breeding. Seeing a growing demand for rabbits, people in the surrounding villages also began to raise them, increasing the nutrition, income and self-sufficiency of the entire area.
Starting a Brick Factory in Paraguay
Learning of an improved brick-producing process, a PCV assigned to a village in Paraguay was convinced that the process could be introduced there, thus saving the villagers the expense of buying bricks in town. He held many meetings with his counterpart and community leaders discussing the problems, the approach, and the goals of such an activity.
Finally a town meeting was held where the tasks were delegated and a timeline outlined. The counterpart was to be responsible for investigating the types of equipment needed, while the PCV was to conduct a market survey for the sale of bricks. Other community leaders were to search for trainers, and determine the type and quality of raw materials needed. The timeline was drawn so that the factory would be operational before the PCV's close of service.
The activity received funding from Small Project Assistance, and the brick producing factory was completed on time. The bricks were of higher quality than those available in town and at half the cost, so that well-respected builders began to rely on these better bricks, generating new business for the community.
Supporting a Cashew Factory in Honduras
Following in the footsteps of a previous PCV is not easy; however, a dedicated PCV assigned to a small rural community in Honduras was able to take an established secondary activity and improve on it.
The previous PCV had secured a start-up loan for a cashew factory from a nonprofit organization based in Houston, Texas, called Pueblo to People, which supports cooperatives in Latin America producing handcrafts and agricultural products. Learning that the loan was being used to get the factory started, and that once production began, Pueblo to People planned to buy the cashews every two weeks, the new PCV decided to continue working with the sponsoring group to help make the factory a functioning, profitable business.
Once the factory was in operation, half the revenue was used to pay back the loan; the other half was divided among the women factory workers according to how much each had produced. The factory did so well that the loan was paid off in one year.
Soon the women realized that they not only were making a lot of money, but that by working together they were able to control the sale of precious cashew seeds because they held so much of the market. Through constant encouragement from the PCV, the women's level of confidence began to increase. Their management expertise grew with their bank accounts, until finally they no longer turned to the PCV for advice or decision making. This PCV had truly worked herself out of a job!
Constructing a Health Clinic in Zaire
Three years before the arrival of a PCV, the community members of Ngoma had given up hope of securing funding for their dream of constructing a health clinic. Instead, feeling discouraged that no incountry agencies had responded to their requests for help, they settled for a tiny three-room dispensary of mud and thatch to serve the 6,000-member community.
After adjusting to village life, the PCV assigned to Ngoma began to hear stories of the community's futile attempts to build a health clinic. The need for such a clinic to provide basic health services was obvious - so obvious, in fact, that the village chief had donated land for the clinic. The missing ingredient was money for building materials.
The PCV began researching the use of local, renewable building materials, and together with community leaders, wrote and submitted a proposal to the Peace Corps Partnership Program for funding to purchase the other needed materials. The money was on the way as the community elected members for a health committee to oversee the clinic's construction.
The PCV worked closely with a local reforestation project to ensure that construction did not damage the environment, educating the community about environmental concerns as well. Once built, the Ngoma Health Clinic was adopted by the Central Health Zone, which provided equipment and a trained staff.
Building a Village Elementary School in Belize
For years, this rural community in Belize had dreamed of replacing the existing school with a new building that would attract better teachers and create an environment more conducive to learning. The villagers had defined what they wanted, even a budget, and when a PCV was assigned to the community, they requested his help "even before he could remove his hiking boots."
The PCV immediately began contacting all organizations that might be sources of funds and support. He solicited building equipment from the Ministry of Agriculture, materials from the Ministry of Public Works, support from the Ministry of Education, and technical information from Peace Corps' Information Collection and Exchange. The villagers were able to build the school themselves, and thus were able to maintain the new building, which also served as a community center and school for several surrounding villages.
Completing a Medical Clinic in Tunisia
Serving her community as an agriculture extension agent working with draft animals, one PCV never expected to become involved in a secondary activity that would affect over 8,000 human lives. Years before the PCV had arrived, this high-spirited community had begun the construction of a medical clinic. Unfortunately, a devastating drought plagued the area making it necessary for the community to spend the money reserved for the construction of the clinic, just to survive.
The half-finished clinic sat in the middle of the village as a sad reminder of better days; however, optimistic community members never lost faith in their ability to accomplish their dream eventually and soon began discussing their needs with their PCV. She wrote a proposal to the Small Project Assistance program, which granted tentative approval pending the community's securing support for the recurring cost of running the clinic.
The leaders of the community began to negotiate with the local governor and reached an agreement: the government would provide a full-time nurse, weekly visits from a doctor, and supplies, while the community assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the building and the grounds.
The SPA money arrived and was used to complete the construction of the medical clinic, serving 2,000 people in the immediate area and 6,000 within a two-kilometer radius.
Constructing School Latrines in Kenya
As the number of students at a school in Kenya began to increase, the PCV assigned as a teacher there became acutely aware that more latrines were needed. Researching latrine designs at the Peace Corps in Country Resource Center, the PCV found plans for a cement-block-lined latrine that would last for 15 years with a minimum of maintenance.
After securing land from the local chief, the PCV, with the help of two local instructors, trained the students in the new latrine design. Through the construction of two latrines, students learned the importance of latrines for community health and also acquired construction skills they could use and pass on to others.
Building a Better Home in the Philippines
Feeling that the best way to teach is by example, a PCV couple decided to build themselves a better home and in that way to teach their neighbors how to build a house that would withstand the storms that regularly destroyed whole villages in the Philippines. The couple set forth certain criteria: the home needed to be weatherproof; made of locally available materials; and affordable to villagers.
Together with local artisans, the couple constructed a home that met all their criteria. In the process, they invented an improved brick-making technique and built an efficient wood-burning cooking stove - innovations that were immediately adopted by the villagers.
The true test for the community, however, was the first major monsoon season, which the couple's home weathered without a crack. "By experimenting with the natural resources that existed around them, they were able to find solutions for themselves and their neighbors."
Conducting an Environmental Education Workshop for Teachers in Paraguay
On a camping trip in Paraguay, a PCV met the superintendent of a Paraguayan National Park and began to discuss with him the problems of deforestation and soil erosion. Wanting to take some action, the superintendent set up a time to meet with the PCV to plan an environmental activity. In the meantime, the PCV researched Paraguayan environmental problems by talking with representatives from local and federal government agencies. At their next meeting, the two brainstormed possible approaches and decided to focus on teachers, in an attempt to reach children and their parents.
With financial support from World Wildlife Fund-U.S. and The Friends of Paraguay (an RPCV group), the two men organized a series of three, four-day workshops for teachers on the impact of agricultural practices on natural resources. The events were held in the park, where teachers camped out, living in the natural environment.
As a result of these workshops, teachers began to introduce environmental education activities into their teaching plans. In addition, five communities surrounding the park began nurseries to produce a variety of trees for agroforestry and soil conservation.
Forming a School Ecology Club in Poland
Having a strong interest in the environment, one PCV began to integrate environmental issues into his English class. A Polish colleague suggested he form an after-school ecology club. Excited by the idea, the PCV organized a planning committee of teachers and students, which resulted in a student-run club.
As club members learned more about the environmental problems around them, they began to turn from education to action. They prepared and presented a petition urging community leaders to build a large landfill to replace the three open dumps currently used. They organized a group to clean up the trash on a local river bank, and the older students wrote and performed a play to teach environmental issues to younger students.
Arriving in Belize, one PCV was shocked by the tremendous deforestation he saw in the country. He discussed the subject with his APCD, who suggested he consider how he could best promote the idea of environmentalism. After much thought and brainstorming, the PCV decided to produce a 15-minute educational video highlighting the importance of sustainable forest management, and the "how to's" of community forestry activities.
With financial support from local agencies and businesses, he was able to interest a local film production company in the activity. The "Releaf Belize" video premiered on Earth Day in local schools, with a tree planting ceremony.
The video played to audiences around the country in schools, civic organizations, and to the general public. It aired on local TV and was a stepping stone to a national environmental awareness program. Once the video was produced, the PCV developed a "Tree Bank," making seedlings available throughout the country.
Promoting Earth Day Activities in Costa Rica
For Earth Day, one creative PCV assigned to a small town organized a variety of activities including a parade in which 300 people marched. After the parade some of the marchers picked up trash at the town plaza, while others painted garbage cans.
Prior to the event, at the PCV's suggestion, school children had an Earth Day poster contest, and on Earth Day, the best posters were displayed at the local bank. The townspeople performed typical Costa Rican songs, and recited poems with ecological themes. The day ended with a formal ceremony awarding certificates to those who donated trees for reforestation, followed by a celebration, which was broadcast live on the local radio station.
Promoting Environmental Awareness through Drama in Thailand
Reading an article in the Peace Corps Times about another PCV who had started a drama club focusing on health education, a PCV assigned to a school in northern Thailand immediately saw that drama was a low-cost, low-tech, culturally appropriate means of communication for all ages. To promote environmental awareness, she discussed the idea of starting a drama club with the students and teachers in the school where she taught, and they decided to give it a try.
Receiving a grant from The Canada Fund, the drama club was able to participate in a five-day workshop conducted by a professional theater group. The club members, ranging in age from 13 to 18, wrote the scripts, designed the costumes, constructed sets, and developed choreography to go with their multimedia presentation, including traditional shadow puppetry, musical drama, mime, story theater, and dance.
They took their show on the road to eight districts of the country, reaching thousands of primary and secondary school students. The Canadian Embassy provided a second grant for the production of a video and a three-day tour to Bangkok, which generated national media coverage.
Publishing an Environmental Newsletter in Hungary
Realizing the need to educate the community about local environmental issues, a group of town council members, teachers from the local high school, and a PCV met to discuss the problem. They decided to collaborate and produce a newsletter, free to the general public, addressing the issues of waste disposal, water pollution, and energy conservation.
Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance program funded the printing, after the team wrote a proposal at the PCV's suggestion. Eight hundred copies of this 16-page newsletter were published quarterly on recycled paper. The newsletter was unique in educating the public on how to respond to environmental issues at the local level.
Conducting a Guinea Worm Survey in Togo
In addition to her primary role as a health educator, an energetic PCV took on a secondary activity conducting a prefectural survey assessing the approximate percentage of villages affected by Guinea worm and identifying available and potential clean water sources in affected villages. World Neighbors provided the PCV with a counterpart and the necessary funds to survey nearly all the villages surrounding her site.
PCVs are conducting similar surveys in all the countries where Guinea worm is prevalent - an invaluable contribution to the United Nations efforts to eradicate Guinea worm by the year 2000.
Conducting a Summer Health Education Program for Children in Paraguay
Conducting summer health camps during the traditional three-month summer vacation period is a standard secondary activity that Education PCVs, their counterparts, and local health officials in Paraguay have engaged in for years. Together, they develop a plan to motivate the community and promote the summer health camp idea at churches, community centers, and house-to-house visits. Then they design a program of camp activities, searching for young volunteers to be trained as camp counselors, and obtaining the coordination and support of the teachers in the community.
The summer camps meet two mornings each week during the vacation period, for children ranging in age from five to thirteen. The camp is free, but parents are asked to contribute food for mid-morning snacks.
The children learn about health, gardening, and hygiene through songs, games, drawings, and demonstrations. Mothers, who are encouraged to participate, have remarked on how much their children have learned, and the volunteer camp counselors have gained an invaluable leadership experience.
Establishing a Child Feeding Center in Honduras
In a small rural community in Honduras, the local women's club, in cooperation with the men's club, had designed a plan to establish a feeding center. The intention was to improve the nutritional status of children and pregnant and lactating women, as well as create jobs and increase the community's ability to work together for the common good. Explaining that all the resources for funding they tried had refused their pleas for support, the club's president asked the local PCV to help.
The PCV and the community wrote a proposal to the Peace Corps Partnership Program for funds to buy building materials and cooking equipment, and asked CARE to supply food. Both sources proved to be supportive. The women's club enthusiastically raised the required 25 percent matching funds through raffles and church activities. Using local methods, the men's club built the child feeding center and the women administered the daily feeding program. Participation in the women's club grew tremendously as the members actively took on new projects to improve their community's standard of living.
Organizing an AIDS Coalition Team for Sierra Leone
In Sierra Leone, a group of Peace Corps Volunteers, host country nationals, and British and Canadian volunteers formed a coalition to teach themselves about AIDS. Using information from the World Health Organization, the Washington Post, AIDS Action (a quarterly newsletter published in England, distributed free to PCVs upon request), Peace Corps Medical Officers, APCDs, ICE's Nonformal Education Manual, and various other sources, the coalition developed a bimonthly newsletter on AIDS and an All Volunteer AIDS Manual, a guidebook for educational activities on AIDS. 16
Teaching About AlDS in Thailand
At the request of local school administrators, PCV teachers in Thailand have been educating their students about AIDS. They have incorporated AIDS information into their existing lesson plans and have started their own AIDS education programs.
One PCV developed an "AIDS Box" containing activity cards, an AIDS board game, and various teaching and evaluation materials. Teaming up with the AIDS Division of the Ministry of Public Health, a group of Volunteers wrote an AIDS Resource Manual: A Guide for Teaching about AIDS in Thailand. The manual, published by ICE, covers the basics about AIDS transmission and prevention and contains a plethora of teaching tips, resources, and activities.
Writing a Cookbook of Indigenous Foods in Tonga
A group of Volunteers in Tonga worked together to develop a cookbook of indigenous Tonganese foods and cooking techniques. The group tried all prospective recipes at home and reported back to each other at weekly meetings. The final product was a 200-page cookbook, including a nutritional analysis. Peace Corps/Tonga supported the printing and distribution of the cookbook.
Teaching Literacy in Papua New Guinea
Wanting to be actively involved in the Year of Literacy sponsored by the United Nations, and concerned about the difficulties Papua New Guinean children face in entering a school system based on the Australian model, one PCV English teacher designed a unique response. He solicited volunteers from his tenth grade classes to serve as village literacy teachers to work with pre-school children.
Six students volunteered, attending weekly meetings to plan and implement the program. The PCV taught the students basic literacy methods and techniques, discussing the issues involved with young students having to learn to read and write in English without ever having mastered these same activities in their local language. The students themselves designed the lesson plans, using local stories, poetry, and songs as materials, thereby involving parents and older village members as well. In an effort to discourage reliance on expensive materials, the students were set to their task with pencil and notebook only.
The PCV could not follow up to see the children's progress once they entered school, but his volunteer teachers showed continued enthusiasm and support for the program. Two, in fact, went on to University to become teachers.
Conducting a Summer Camp for Children in Nigeria
In Nigeria, a group of PCV teachers decided to organize a three-week summer camp for 65 fifthgraders. To support the camp, the Ministry of Agriculture donated food, the Ministry of Health offered medical check-ups, and a local women's group provided a variety of supplies.
School grounds were "borrowed" from a cooperating school, and community members organized themselves into an advisory committee. Eight PCVs, three teachers, and the Peace Corps staff planned the activities, which focused on sports, crafts, and educational field trips. This successful program received wide radio and TV coverage, and was repeated in successive years. 20
Developing Recreational Programs for Refugee Children in Hungary
Working with children at the Csongrad Refugee Camp in Hungary, two PCVs have developed educational and recreational programs to help integrate refugee children with their contemporaries in the town where the camp is located. The World Federation of Hungarians has supported their efforts. At a fundraising dinner in Washington, D.C., attended by many members of the diplomatic community, the Federation succeeded in raising almost $9,000 to assist the Volunteers' activities.
Organizing Youth Centers in Sri Lanka
Two ambitious PCVs teamed up to promote the Sri Lankan government initiative on youth sports programs. They began by asking all the other PCVs in the country to conduct a needs assessment of their assigned communities to determine the level of interest and the best way to begin.
Using the information collected, the two PCVs designed a program to establish community development centers, using sports activities to attract unemployed youth. Coordination of the program was handled by the two PCVs, with the other Volunteers responsible for organizing their own communities and identifying counterparts to help with implementation and continued support of the program.
The promise of sports equipment, purchased with funding identified through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, was a motivating factor for the community members involved. Organized sports programs and competitions attracted the local press to highlight the activity. The program was a great success, with 26 youth and sports programs established throughout the country.
Supplying Play Equipment to an Orphanage in Burundi
In a rural community in Burundi, a PCV and the Superior Sister of the Diocese of Muyinga wanted to transform the local orphanage into a place where children could be happy. With approval from the Governor of the Province and land for a playground donated by the Church, the Sister and the PCV composed a wish list of furniture, carpet, cupboards, shelves, cribs, a jungle gym, see-saw, sandbox, balls, and educational toys for the children.
The Sisters of Charity agreed to offer limited support, but not enough to complete the activity. The PCV and the community wrote a proposal to the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which linked them to funding provided by an international school. Needing to contribute 25 percent towards the cost of the activity, the children and PCVs in the area provided manual labor, while local craftsmen volunteered their talents to make the play equipment from the raw materials purchased. The activity allowed the children to learn new skills and to work together for a common goal, in addition to greatly improving their environment.
Supporting a Boy Scout Troop in Benin
In a small rural village in Benin, the leader of the local Boy Scout troop wanted to engage the boys in a gardening activity that would teach them useful skills. Familiar with a Boy Scout troop in the United States, the PCV wrote a letter asking those boys if they would be interested in helping the troop in Benin buy supplies for their activity.
The troop in the United States took on the activity with enthusiasm. Money was raised, but instead of sending it directly to the troop in Benin, the PCV suggested it be facilitated through the Peace Corps Partnership Program. In addition to the funds, the troops began a cross-cultural exchange, a special component of the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which delighted all involved.
Working with an Orphanage in Quito, Ecuador
An entire training group of PCVs in Quito, Ecuador took on an orphanage as their special secondary activity. One taught English songs and games to the older children. Another PCV devoted himself to working with the hearing-impaired children. Others made toys and played with the babies. This long-term commitment resulted in over half a dozen of the children being adopted by the members of the group.
How sponsorship of this orphanage as a group secondary activity changed the lives of the children and the PCVs was best summed up at a recent Peace Corps Reunion: "We learned that the world is really a small place and that the similarities that bind human beings are much more important than the differences."
Establishing a Resource Center in Papua New Guinea
A PCV in a remote village in Papua New Guinea began to write letters to several non-government organizations inquiring about their programs and local affiliates. With every reply came a number of free books and publications.
When the PCV showed the materials to her supervisor in the rural health clinic where she was working, he suggested she collect them to start a community resource center, and assigned her an office for that purpose. She began to write to other organizations asking directly for free materials. For only the cost of postage, the center was able to acquire over 350 titles and subscriptions to eight publications on topics from literacy and hygiene to appropriate technology and games. By simply writing letters the PCV had increased tremendously a remote community's access to information.
Forming a Volunteer lRC Liaison Committee in the Solomon Islands
Interested in the development of their Peace Corps In-Country Resource Center (IRC), two PCVs in the Solomon Islands began working regularly with the Resource Center Manager as a Volunteer IRC Liaison Committee. Together with the Manager, they reorganized the IRC, set up a section for new books, and produced a Resource Center Guide. They also updated the collection, weeding out old titles that were no longer relevant and ordering new ones that were more appropriate to current Volunteer needs. Long after the two PCVs left Peace Corps, their secondary activity still was benefiting Volunteers who succeeded them in the Solomon Islands.
Organizing the In-Country Resource Center in Ukraine
Among the first group of PCVs assigned to Ukraine was a Business Development Volunteer who also was a professional librarian. For two years, until Peace Corps/Ukraine was able to hire a full-time Resource Center Manager, this PCV organized and administered the IRC as her secondary activity. Starting with bare bookcases, she was able to build up the Center with a collection of over 3,000 titles, mostly through donations.
Repairing and Binding Books in Kenya
This activity set out to preserve school library books and teach proper book care to teachers and students in a rural school. With the headmaster's support, the PCV organized a group of teachers and students to build a book press and taught them to repair books. As a result, many books were saved from needless destruction. In addition, the school set up a system whereby those who borrowed books would be charged if the books were damaged upon return.
Reviving a School Library in Fiji
Realizing that the school library had been out of commission for over a year, a Volunteer math teacher decided to take on the reorganization of the school library as a secondary activity, even though she had no real library experience. She enlisted the support of fellow teachers to help organize and repair the remaining books. One of the teachers, a nun, helped to get the books in circulation while the principal made a classroom available for use as a library. The PCV assigned Dewey Decimal numbers to the nonfiction books and alphabetized the fiction collection. She set up a system for students to borrow books, and a record-keeping ledger.
To purchase new books and the supplies necessary to maintain the library, fines were charged to students who returned books late. Other fundraising events were held, including a "Mufti Day" where students were charged a fee for coming to school out of uniform. The PCV solicited free books from the Darien Book Aid Plan and the Scholastic Book Service in the United States. In the end, this tireless PCV had procured over 1,000 new books and developed a thriving library used by the entire school community.
Developing a Six - Month Training Program for Rehabilitation Aides in Antigua
Three PCVs - an occupational therapist, a speech pathologist, and a psychotherapist - recognized that although rehabilitation aides had been assigned to each of them, none had been formally trained. Together, they rallied support for their plan to conduct a training program for rehabilitation aides.
Six people took the six-month course of study. After completion of the training, the PCVs developed a manual so that the training could be conducted again.
Giving the Gift of Motion to Disabled Youth in Guinea
The village leaders in this rural community in Guinea wanted to do something for people in their area who had disabilities. They asked the advice of the local PCV, who suggested holding a meeting to ask these people themselves to describe their needs.
At the meeting, several young people talked of their difficulties traveling to and from school, spending up to four hours a day pulling themselves along the ground. They needed handpedaled tricycles, which were being produced in the capital city, but the problem was getting the funds to purchase them.
A proposal was written to the Peace Corps Partnership Program, and the community began to hold fundraising events - selling handicrafts, sponsoring a dance - to meet the 25 percent contribution required by the program. Although the Ministry of Transportation arranged for free delivery of the tricycles from the capital to the village, it took a call from the APCD to get the final shipment. In all, 22 hand-powered tricycles transformed the lives of these people.
Producing a Nepali Sign Language Dictionary
The principal of a school for the deaf in Kathmandu had just returned from a course at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., on "The Total Communication Approach to Teaching the Deaf." She wanted to implement what she had learned but was frustrated by the cultural inconsistencies between American sign language and Nepali sign language.
Discussing the problem with the PCV assigned to the school, she agreed that they should work together to develop a sign language dictionary appropriate for Nepal. They involved the deaf community from around Nepal in order to standardize the sign language used throughout the country. Deaf artists illustrated the material.
Once the dictionary was published, teachers of the deaf were trained to use the book. Because the principal was seen as an authority, the dictionary, as well as "the total communication approach," were widely accepted among the deaf and mentally handicapped in Nepal.
Sharing the Peace Corps experience with a class of students in a U.S. school by participating in Peace Corps' World Wise Schools (WOOS) program has become a popular secondary activity for PCVs and a rewarding experience for them and for the school children involved. Each year, WWS matches thousands of Volunteers with third- through twelfth-grade classes in the U.S. so that through the Volunteers, U.S. students can learn to understand another culture and the role of PCVs.
To participate, PCVs are asked to fill out a brief enrollment form and submit it to the World Wise Schools office in Washington. Matches are made from June though December, so interested PCVs must commit to the program early in their service, since no matches are made if a PCV's Close of Service date falls before the end of the stateside school year. Once matched, the PCV and teacher decide the shape and scope of the exchange.
One PCV, for example, created a 26-page construction paper notebook of photographs, entitled "The ABCs of The Gambia" ("A" is for "anthill," etc.). In Sri Lanka, a PCV made a tape recording of "typical village sounds," while another photographed local children and recorded them talking about "their favorite things" to produce a slide show for her U.S. audience.
A PCV in Nepal who had overcome a learning disability to go through college and become a Volunteer was linked up with a class of special education students who were so impressed by her example that they were eager to correspond with her even though they normally were reluctant to write anything. Nominated by the teacher who instructed the class and who incorporated her material into his lesson plans, she received the Illinois "Learning Disabled Adult of the Year" award in 1992.
In English classes in countries from Honduras to Poland, PCVs have had their students write essays in English about their countries and have then sent the essays to their WWS classes. Other PCVs have teamed up with local teachers to have their classes create "culture boxes," video tapes or other materials that would foster a cross-cultural exchange between host-country students and their U.S. counterparts. Frequently, such materials have become incorporated into the study guides and videos that World Wise Schools produces for U.S. teachers to use in their geography and social studies lessons, and they will be reproduced for the WWS World Wide Web server to reach a still larger audience on the Internet.
World Wise Schools is now preparing a study guide for the World Map Project to combine the original map-making procedures with lessons in such related subjects as geography, anthropology and mathematics. The Project has taken on the earmarks of a Third Goal program as RPCVs have organized workshops for teachers in the U.S to replicate the project. In fact, the largest hand-drawn map in the world now is in the state of Oregon!
Organizing a Third Goal Committee in the Dominican Republic
Before World Wise Schools became a separate entity in Peace Corps, Volunteers on their own linked up with groups in the U.S. to promote cultural exchange and to counter stereotypical misconceptions about peoples in the developing world. In the Dominican Republic, PCVs formed a "Third Goal Committee" to share ideas on how they could best disseminate information to the U.S. and begin to stockpile collectibles - photographs, artwork, handicrafts, musical recordings, musical instruments, clothing - that would effectively portray the country and become a museum in miniature.
WWS encourages all PCVs to organize in-country Third Goal Committees to gather as much information as they can about their countries so that they will be able to "bring the world home" as classroom speakers after they complete their Peace Corps service.
Exhibiting Children's Artwork in Denver, Colorado
ECOS, an environmental communication service in Denver, Colorado, contacted the Peace Corps about inviting children who live in tropical countries to participate in an art exhibit on rain forests that the Denver Zoo was organizing. WWS worked with the Environment Sector in Peace Corps' Office of Training and Program Support (OTAPS) to spread the word to Peace Corps posts around the world. A dozen Volunteers responded - from the Philippines, Argentina, Paraguay, Thailand, the Central African Republic, and Botswana - with 180 different samples of children's drawings and handiwork depicting the forests they were familiar with. The Volunteers contacted ECOS directly to make the necessary arrangements for the children's display at "Tropical Discovery."
Designing a Pre-Service Training Model for Papua New Guinea
Recognizing the need to make Pre-Service Training in Papua New Guinea more village based, a PCV couple designed a week-long Technical Village Live - In Session. With encouragement from the Training Director, Country Director, and APCD, the couple planned to have the entire training class and training staff visit their village for the week. They arranged to have local people house the Trainees and to train them in the skills needed to run projects related to their assignments.
Health Volunteers joined the health center staff, assisting in the maternal child health clinics and accompanying staff on home visits. Agriculture Trainees were assigned to farmers for a day and visited beekeeping, poultry raising, and vegetable growing projects. As a group, the Trainees constructed a drum oven, discussed development issues, and attended practical demonstrations on cooking and pesticide use.
Host families and the village "trainers" were invited to participate fully in all activities. A dinner, concluding the week's activities, was held with Trainees and host families performing skits on the important issues they had discussed. The program was so successful that it was repeated by the initial Volunteer couple for the next training class and implemented by other PCVs at subsequent Pre-Service Trainings.
Maintaining Farm Equipment in Tonga
A Business Volunteer assisting the Young Farmers Association in Tonga as her secondary activity became aware that members did not know how to maintain their farm equipment properly. Machinery constantly was breaking down, and no one could do the repairs. The PCV had heard about the Peace Corps' Farmer-to-Farmer (FTF) program, and wrote to Peace Corps/Washington for more information. From the response she received, she got her APCD's approval to request the technical assistance of a Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer.
As a result, two FTF volunteers arrived from the U.S. to inventory the equipment and set up a servicing schedule for maintaining the usable machinery. In addition, the Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers gave seminars on how to perform standard maintenance procedures, enabling Association members to repair and service their own machinery.
Teaching Young Women to be Office Workers in Fiji
As her secondary activity, a PCV in Fiji designed and implemented a course to train 11 young women to be office workers, who were enrolled in a rural high school in Savai'i. She produced a 100-page syllabus to teach the girls typing and office procedures, and at the same time hone their English language skills. She also provided the necessary books to accompany the material she was teaching them. Her course proved so successful that Peace Corp/Fiji decided to continue the course after she left, assigning a business studies PCV to the school to teach the class.
Training Women to Operate Solar-Powered Radios in Belize
To communicate with the local health center and the police, the Voice of America (VOA) offered to provide 14 remote villages in Belize with solar-powered radios. No one in these villages, however, was trained to operate or maintain them. As a consequence, a PCV in another village decided to organize a training program, with the consent of the VOA, which agreed to provide his village with a radio as well.
As women were more likely to be at home during the day, it was decided that they would be the radio operators. Besides installing the radios, the VOA also provided the trainers.
Twenty women attended the training to become radio operators. They now had a new, important role to play, underscored during a cholera outbreak when the radios were responsible for saving several lives.
Celebrating International Women's Day in Lesotho
Hoping to arrange something big for the International Women's Day (March 8th) Celebration, one PCV invited representatives from the Lesotho National Council of Women, the Federation of Women's Lawyers, the Lesotho Council of NGOs, the Peace Corps WID Committee, and many other grassroots organizations to help plan the event. Through a number of meetings and discussions, they decided to organize a "Fun Run" and a workshop on women's self-esteem, facilitated by leading women professionals. The workshop would serve to kick off a speakers series the following month.
Donations from local businesses provided refreshments, T-hirts, and cash prizes for the five fastest women and men in the run. The Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association organized the race course, clocking of runners, and traffic control.
The day was a tremendous success, with over 250 runners and walkers, over 50 percent of them women. The event, which included entertainment and a raffle, was covered on local TV and radio and increased support for women's athletics nationwide.
Organizing a Women's Action Week Seminar in Central African Republic
With financial backing from Peace Corps' Small Project Assistance program, a PCV and her counterparts organized a Women's Action Week Seminar. The purpose of the seminar was to teach village women important development skills and furnish them with the tools to improve their communities' standard of living.
The training sessions focused on specific techniques and consciousness-raising themes. Topics ranged from apiculture and health to the role of women in development and in effecting community change. Training materials were designed using materials developed by VITA and ICE. 28
Printing a Calendar of Outstanding Women in Lesotho
The Peace Corps/Lesotho Women In Development (WID) Committee and a group of local women held a discussion on self-esteem and empowerment. Concerned that rural school girls did not have a variety of female role models, they decided to develop a calendar spotlighting the achievements of 12 outstanding Basotho women who had been successful in nontraditional professions to emphasize that women today have many options available to them. Funded through Peace Corps Partnership and the Women in Development program in Peace Corps' Office of Training and Program Support (OTAPS), they printed the calendars and distributed them to selected schools.
The calendar was received with great enthusiasm and Peace Corps Partnership funded a second printing. This time, the calendars were distributed throughout the country, again free to schools, but sold to the Peace Corps Office, Lesotho National Council of Women, the Women in Business Office, the American Embassy, and village stores. Sales such as these may make it possible to print the calendar annually without the need for further funding.
Supporting a Women's Training Center in Yemen
Three PCVs working with the Society of Family Development in Yemen as their secondary activity helped secure a $10,000 SPA grant to build a workshop to train unemployed Yemeni women as sewing machine operators. The government of Japan had donated 30 sewing machines for this purpose. The Society was able to provide matching funds by having the women make and sell school uniforms and craft items.
Go to the people,
Live with them,
Learn from them,
Start with what they know,
Build on what they have.
But, with the best leaders
When the work is done,
The task accomplished,
The people will say
"We have done this ourselves."
Perhaps this quote by Chinese scholar Lao Tsu in 700 BC best describes how you should view your role as a PCV. You may be an important resource in your community, but in the end, it is the community that will determine your success or failure.
In our sampling we have tried to suggest the various ways in which Peace Corps Volunteers have reached out into their communities to encourage people to act on their own behalf. As you think about an activity you might like to undertake, keep in mind the principle of putting the community first, its needs as well as its limitations, before moving ahead on your own.
From our success stories, some common elements emerge that may guide your thinking. You probably discussed many of these elements in your Pre-Service Training. Let's consider what they are.
Stephanie Cox and Del Friedman, our PCV couple assigned to Nepal, had decided on a secondary activity before they left the U. S. Before they became Trainees, they knew about the country's need to have braillewriters repaired, and were prepared to do something about it. Their foreknowledge, however, is unusual.
PCVs need time to settle in end establish relationships within their communities.
Most Volunteers arrive in-country preoccupied with adjusting to their new environment overseas and getting started with their primary Peace Corps assignment. Not until this settling in has happened are they ready to decide how to undertake another project of their own within the community and to identify the specific activity.
Although she had researched the country before going there, TEFL teacher Nancy Picard spent her first year in Hungary gathering information about the school system and culture itself before she decided on a secondary activity to encourage Hungarian women to take a more active part in society. Even though Stephanie Cox and Del Friedman had decided that they were going to train local people to repair braillewriters before they arrived in Nepal, they waited to put their ideas into practice until they were well established in the country.
Once a secondary activity has been selected, PCV experiences show that it is best to start slowly end take one solid step at a time.
Phil Bob Hellmich in Sierra Leone caught a lot of fish in the Rokel River with his host country friends, the Conteh brothers, before he decided to pursue a personal project to see if he and his friends could create locally made lures to attract Nile perch. Once the activity got underway, the development process was slow for the first eight months with many failures and technical obstacles. Its eventual success attests to how well these obstacles were surmounted.
The culture within which you an working, in fact, may require moving slowly.
People in the United States tend to proceed rapidly through activities, but the pace is considerably slower in many other parts of the world. How slow was demonstrated by the example of Papua New Guinea where community members engaged in a six-month process to decide which bank to use in opening a savings account for their egg farm project. The Marcoves - the PCV couple working with the villagers - found it difficult to sit on the sidelines and wait for the villagers to come to an agreement. The wait, however, was one of the key elements leading to a successful venture because it meant that the people involved had learned to make decisions together and to cooperate with one another.
By not rushing into a secondary activity, you give yourself time to assess what you might really enjoy doing given the realities of your situation. You also come to know the needs of your community, as well as its leadership, skills, and interests.
Whether your community is a village of families related to each other or street children living in the same slum neighborhood, the community should tee involved from the beginning.
This "hanging heads" as it was called in the fishing lures activity in Sierra Leone - sharing ideas - may produce a different activity from what you originally had in mind. It will reflect, in all likelihood, a give-and-take between your culture and theirs. But it will be a community activity, enhancing the chances that it will continue once you have completed your Peace Corps service.
The International Women's Conference organized by PCV Nancy Picard in Hungary was successful because the women involved took the initiative to organize themselves into various committees and kept to their weekly meeting schedule. It was at these meetings that important issues were decided and planning began on how to get support for the international women's conference.
In many instances, the secondary activity may stem from an action van idea of someone else in the community.
PCV Frank Giarrizzo began thinking about promoting village enterprises when his houseman asked him to retain his salary so that he could start a chicken farm. The impetus for the egg farm in Papua New Guinea came from a villager - Angelina Mal - whom Kathy Marcove had gotten to know from working as a health educator in the village and whose leadership potential she recognized and encouraged. In the urban setting of Santa Domingo, Casey Vanderbeek's hydroponic gardening was tried first by his counterparts and professional agronomists. Vanderbeek added the element of making it an activity for "at-risk" youth.
You will need to be sensitive to the local culture, including its political structure ant make it work to the benefit of your activity. That can happen only if the community is involved from the beginning.
The enterprise zone PCV Frank Giarrizzo helped to organize in Malawi would not have moved forward if Giarrizzo had not been aware of how the political system functioned and taken the time to enlist the necessary support at every level. Moving from a single chicken farm - the goal of Giarrizzo's houseman when he asked Giarrizzo to retain most of his salary - to several farms and businesses involving entire villages meant that the two had to secure the agreement of clan elders and village headmen before they could proceed. In this case, planning for the zone involved a number of local people who joined Giarrizzo in obtaining approval and support from the local and regional political leadership as well as from staff of the Ministries of Agriculture and Community Service.
In Yap, PCV Susan Willett learned both the importance of not jumping ahead of the community and creating some distance between herself and the activity. Willett came to understand that people in her community placed a great deal of importance on discussing ideas and mulling them over for a long time before coming to a decision. She learned to wait for them to take action.
"A Volunteer must not unwittingly become an indispensable part of the operation. "
This was Casey Vanderbeek's conclusion in analyzing his experience with the hydroponic gardening project. The job of Volunteers is to transfer the skills they have to the communities they serve. Initially, they may be doing much of the work, especially if they are trying to teach new skills and are setting an example. Eventually, however, they should work themselves out of the job. Casey Vanderbeek saw himself moving into "an advisory type of position." Susan Willett in Yap referred to herself as a "catalyst." Others have called the Volunteer a "facilitator."
It is sometimes best to remove yourself physically from the community to give people a chance to act on their own.
Returning from vacation, Susan Willett was delightfully surprised to find that her counterpart had arranged to have the legends they had selected for the English curriculum illustrated while she was away. She also found that on their own initiative, the community was able to get the folk tales published. Casey Vanderbeek also found progress made while he was away. His absence, however, also uncovered problems that were not apparent while he was there. In the time remaining, he had a chance to correct them.
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.
Over and over, PCVs have found that secondary activities are most rewarding when they reflect PCVs' personal talents and interests.
By organizing a secondary activity during your Peace Corps service, you have an opportunity to use different skills and interests from those perhaps you are employing in your primary assignment. If you enjoy working with your hands, for example, you might want to undertake a construction project. If you are musical, you may consider organizing a singing group to perform programs with a social message. Perhaps you are really concerned about the environmental degradation in your area and want to do something about it by organizing workshops for teachers.
Susan Willett's assignment as a community development advisor and English language teacher inspired her to undertake a secondary activity of recording Yapese legends for children to incorporate into the island's teaching curriculum. Phil Bob Hellmich arrived in Sierra Leone with a love of fishing and a strong commitment to preserving local traditions and culture. His secondary activity utilized both.
Although organizing secondary activities in the Peace Corps is usually not a formalized process, it is important to be systematic in executing them.
Goals need to be fisted end discussed both with people who can advise you and people with whom you will be working.
Defining goals and objectives gives you some yardstick against which to measure your progress. It also helps you to plan the direction your project will take. Casey Vanderbeek realized, for example, that his project had both educational as well as moneymaking objectives, and he had to focus on each separately in order to achieve them.
Plans need to be made, with the people concerned participating.
To be a Trickle Up Program Coordinator, Frank Giarrizzo had to submit detailed plans to the Trickle Up Program, specifying the number of people involved, the types of businesses, and how they would go about organizing them.
Your activity need not be so ambitious, but the planning process remains the same. All of the guidelines mentioned heretofore - deciding whether the idea is a good one; involving the community; getting information, funding, and all the other resources to get your activity underway - require planning. How the activity will be maintained in-country must be clarified. Tasks need to be defined and delegated. The people working with you must participate in this process, so they understand the steps taken and can continue the process once you leave.
The egg production project in Papua New Guinea is a good example of how you can plan an activity with your community. The SPA workshop, duplicated at the village level, enabled the Marcoves and the villagers to look at their proposed activity from a variety of angles. Spending one morning a week, carefully following instructions in the Small Projects Design and Management Training Manual for Volunteers and Counterparts, 2 they largely organized the farm themselves. The villagers prepared the funding proposal, while the Marcoves designed a simple bookkeeping system to have money available to purchase a new batch of chickens when more were needed.
It is important to be practical when considering whether or not to undertake a secondary activity.
A few of our success stories may seem complex, especially the example of HODEZ. In the case of that particular project, Frank Giarrizzo had both the skills and time to undertake an ambitious activity. Usually, however, you will have both limited time and resources to get your activity underway, and it's important that you don't shortchange your primary job assignment for this activity.
Our sample suggests many ideas that are not so difficult to implement - volunteering your services at a local orphanage, participating in World Wise Schools, or providing lessons in English, music, or whatever other special skills you have that the community needs. Consider one of these before moving ahead with something more involved.
Keeping it simple was very much on the mind of Phil Bob Hellmich as he worked to fulfill his vision on "African baits" for Sierra Leoneans. He began with simple premises, altered them when necessary. Much the same approach was used by Cox and Friedman in Nepal as they put the plans they had developed in the United States into action to train typewriter repairmen to fix braillewriters.
In general, whet seems to work best is to have a straightforward plan in mind and then be flexible and open to modification as you progress.
The most productive undertakings are not necessarily those that follow their original plans. Successful activities are often those that take unexpected turns and have unanticipated outcomes.
In the Dominican Republic, Casey Vanderbeek started out to grow vegetables hydroponically. In the end, he and his boys were growing plants for herbal medicines in response to community demand. Be open to the serendipity of your activity. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Do not expect your activity to be an unqualified success, but hope and plan for the best outcome!
Considering how the HODEZ Project has expanded and its far-reaching effects, no one would doubt Frank Giarrizzo's success. Yet not all the HODEZ businesses have remained profitable, and some farmers' groups have been delinquent in repaying loans. Giarrizzo, however, is still forging ahead with Village Enterprise Zone Associations.
Had Casey Vanderbeek or Susan Willett, or any of our other PCVs given up when they first faced problems, nothing would have been accomplished and nothing would have been learned. Casey Vanderbeek's boys may not be growing vegetables and their nutrition may not have improved, but they did learn something about responsibility and what it takes to run a small business.
Sometimes RPCVs continue to keep in touch with the secondary activity they organized. Even after her Peace Corps service ended, Nancy Picard continued to live in Hungary for a while and assist the Sopron Women's Club, and back in the U.S., Frank Giarrizzo, a retired engineer, has made the development of VEZA, the organization he founded in Malawi, his life's work.
These are exceptional situations, however. Few Volunteers stay on in their host countries when they leave the Peace Corps, and when they return to the U.S. they are unlikely to be in a position where they can travel back and forth to their host country, as Giarrizzo does, or maintain close contact with the people they knew there, other than through an occasional letter.
Besides, your goal as a Volunteer is to work yourself out of a job. You hope the classroom your villagers are building will be completed by the time you leave, and that without your help, the community will make sure the classroom doesn't remain empty.
If, on the other hand, it looks like your community still needs a little more support - e.g., the business has gotten started but markets still must be developed - then you need to provide for follow-up.
Communicate with your APCD regularly end keep him or her abreast of your activity's status.
As in the case of HODEZ in Malawi, sometimes another Volunteer takes over a secondary activity. Less frequently, the activity becomes a new PCV's primary job assignment. It is the APCD's responsibility to decide whether or not to continue Peace Corps' support. This is one important reason to stay in touch with your APCD.
Consider in advance who can assume your role.
In Nepal, the PCVs made an arrangement with a German organization working there that had the necessary expertise to support the brailler repair project. Casey Vanderbeek spoke of finding some member of the group whom you can groom or in whom you have confidence to carry on the activity. With a small business like the fishing lures of Sierra Leone, the entrepreneurs themselves, lured by profits, will make it their business to continue, assuming they have the market and skills required.
Record your procedures so that the person who comes after you doesn't make the same mistakes you did and has your successes to build on.
It was not until Frank Giarrizzo completed his Peace Corps service and had left Malawi that his PCV replacement as TUP coordinator had problems with the procedures for repaying loans. If the project had been documented more thoroughly, fewer follow-up problems might have occurred.
Providing documentation for your secondary activity enables the Peace Corps to follow up after your Close Of Service. While working for the Peace Corps back in the United States, Phil Bob Hellmich still answered requests about the fishing lures he helped to develop in Sierra Leone and wrote a manual outlining the procedures, encouraging other PCVs to try the project.
If you think your activity is worth repeating, use your talents to publicize it.
There are many ways to share your experiences - both incountry and once you return home. You can put on workshops as several PCVs did in the examples included in this manual. You also could write to ICE, make a video, contact your hometown newspaper with a story and photos, or draft an article for the Peace Corps newsletter.
The examples included here were used because the Volunteers involved let us know of their efforts. We want to hear from you too! Tell us how you were able to get people in your community on their own to improve the quality of their lives, and what they were able to accomplish. Perhaps your story will become part of a new Above and Beyond, and you will be helping tomorrow's Volunteers make sure that their secondary activities are of primary benefit to their communities.
AIDS Coalition Team for Sierra Leone
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
Associate Peace Corps Director
Christoffel - Blindenmission
Compania Dominicana Telefonica
Environmental Communication Specialists
Foundation for International - Community Assistance
Gifts In Kind
Hills of Dowa Enterprise Zone
Information Collection & Exchange
In-Country Resource Center
Malawi Union of Savings & Credit Cooperatives
Nepal Association for the Welfare of the Blind
Overseas Education Fund
Office of Private Sector Relations
Office of Training & Program Support
Programming & Training System
Peace Corp Partnership Program
Peace Corp Volunteer
Private Voluntary Organization
Rural Enterprises & Agribusiness Development Institutions
Returned Peace Corp Volunteer
Savings & Credit Cooperative Organization
Services for Health, Agriculture, Rural and Enterprise Development
Small Project Assistance Program
Teaching English as a Foreign Language
Trickle Up Program
Trickle Up Program Enterprise Zone Association
University of California at Los Angeles
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Children's Fund
United Nations Development Fund for Women
U.S. Agency for International Development
Village Enterprise Zones Association
Volunteers in Technical Assistance
Voice of America
Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance
Water & Sanitation for Health
World Health Organization
Whole ICE Catalog
Women In Development
Water & Sanitation
World Wise Schools
Young Men's Christian Association
Young Women's Christian Association
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