Archives for Peace Corps today
Carrie Confirmed by Senate as next Director of the Peace Corps at 2:12 pm EST–Congratulations, Carrie!
Senate Votes on Carrie Hessler-Radelet to be Director of the Peace Corps
Carrie Hessler-Radelet is acting Director of the Peace Corps as of July 2013. She was initially appointed deputy director of the Peace Corps on June 23, 2010. She is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Western Samoa, 1981-83) with more than two decades of experience in public health focused on HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health.
Since 2010, Hessler-Radelet has spearheaded a comprehensive agency assessment and reform effort, leading the development and implementation of initiatives to improve efficacy and efficiency across the organization-the first such endeavor since its founding in 1961. She has worked with each office to develop individual performance improvement plans and has focused on projects proven to be best development practices. During her time as deputy director, she led the roll-out of the Focus In/Train Up initiative, which provides targeted technical training to Volunteers to increase their capacity-building abilities. In her concurrent role as chief operating officer, she ensured the agency was a vigilant steward of government resources and taxpayer dollars.
Another major initiative Hessler-Radelet has taken on during her tenure is the implementation of new policies and processes to improve the health and safety of Volunteers. In addition to the requirements codified in the 2011 Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, Hessler-Radelet has overseen the implementation of key policies and programs aimed at reducing the risk of sexual assault and violent crime, as well as improving medical, mental health, legal, and post-service care for victims.
Since her return to the Peace Corps, Hessler-Radelet has been instrumental in instituting the new Office of Global Health and HIV to expand and strengthen the agency’s HIV-education and prevention programs and the Global Health Service Partnership to send physicians and nurses to teach in developing countries. Both initiatives work to meet the medical needs of Peace Corps host countries where the physician-to-population ratio is often woefully inadequate to meet the disease burden. Hessler-Radelet also led an effort to overhaul Volunteer recruiting and engage more Volunteers in post-service public education activities.
Prior to her Senate confirmation as deputy director, Hessler-Radelet was vice president and director of the Washington, D.C., office of John Snow Inc., a global public-health organization, where she oversaw the management of public-health programs in more than 85 countries.
She was actively involved in the establishment of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and was a primary author of PEPFAR’s first strategic plan. Hessler-Radelet was also a Johns Hopkins Fellow with USAID in Indonesia, where she assisted the Indonesian government in developing and implementing its first national AIDS strategy.
Hessler-Radelet served as a board member of the National Peace Corps Association and on the steering committee for the U.S. Coalition for Child Survival. She was founder of the Special Olympics in The Gambia in 1986, which is still active there. All told, Hessler-Radelet has lived and worked in more than 50 countries.
Four generations of Hessler-Radelet’s family have served as Peace Corps Volunteers. Early in her career, Hessler-Radelet served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Samoa from 1981-83 with her husband, Steve Radelet. There, she taught high school and helped design a national public awareness campaign on disaster preparedness.
Hessler-Radelet’s aunt was the 10,000th Peace Corps Volunteer and served in Turkey (1964-66), her grandparents served in Malaysia (1972-73), and her nephew recently completed his service as an HIV education Volunteer in Mozambique (2007-09).
Hessler-Radelet holds a master’s degree in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Boston University. She and her husband have two grown children, Meghan and Sam.
Hessler-Radelet also served as acting Director of the agency from September 2012 to April 2013.
Chis Hedrick (Senegal 1988-90) will be leaving his position as Senegal Peace Corps CD this June. He has been CD in his country of service since 2007. The Peace Corps, however, will still be in the family. His wife, Jennifer Beaston Hedrick (Senegal
1997-99), who has been the COO of Tostan for the past 6 years, is becoming the Peace Corps’ CD in Rwanda. (Tostan is the human rights NGO that has been recognized for its success in reducing female genital cutting and forced early marriage. It was founded by another PCV Molly Melching (Senegal 1976-79).)
Previously Jennifer Hedrick worked at Microsoft, Citigroup and the Grameen Foundation Technology Center. She has her MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
For the last 25 years, her husband, Chris Hedrick, has been focused on the intersection of technology, development and learning, and was recently recruited by Kepler to become their CEO. He will be working out of Kigali, Rwanda. Kepler is an organization trying to offer an alternative vision for higher education in Africa. As we all know one of the world’s biggest tragedies is the gap in Africa between human potential and real opportunities to unlock that potential. Capacity development is what Peace Corps is about, and Kepler is trying to address the same issues by creating a new model of higher education. It leverages distance learning (MOOCs) combined with intense in person seminars to try to provide low cost, high quality education where those opportunities are scarce, starting in Rwanda and soon growing to other countries in Africa. To understand more about kepler, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler_(institution)or or check out the website at: www.kepler.org.
Before going to Senegal as the Peace Corps CD, Chris was CEO of Intrepid Learning,
a Seattle-based corporate learning services firm that he started. He also served as a science and technology advisor to the Governor of Washington state, and worked for the Gates Foundation and Microsoft. He was a Rhodes Scholar but then realized he could learn more by becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer and went to Senegal.
What he has done in Senegal as the CD is set a high-standard for PCVs and Staff on what can be accomplished via the Internet. Recently he sent me some of the new developments he has started in-country that show what Senegal PCVs are doing today.
To start, when someone is interested in joining the Peace Corps, they need only to go on-line and see what Senegal PCVs are doing. (Or they can go to Ethiopia: http://www.pcethiopia.org/splash) and see what those PCVs are involved with in that nation.)
Here is what Chris has to say about the website and the PCVs in Senegal:
“We have a new look on our website, which you can find here:
It also has pretty strong knowledge retention and sharing aspects, through our integration with Google Drive.
For example, this page links to all of our curricula, so that anyone can benefit from the lesson plans, etc:
Combined with our Facebook page( here: https://www.facebook.com/PeaceCorpsSenegal ), we think it works well to communicate to partners, prospective PCVs, families and the public.
Chris also sent me his 47 seconds of parting wisdom for my colleagues, totally filmed and edited by his 8 year old son. It runs in the family.
Good luck Jen and Chris in Rwanda.
The Peace Corps Now Accepting Applications for Global Health Service Partnership Volunteers for 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2014
The Peace Corps Now Accepting Applications for Global Health Service Partnership Volunteers for 2015
Volunteers train a new generation of physicians and nurses in Africa
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 19, 2014 - Today the Global Health Service Partnership program begins accepting applications from physicians and nurses interested in serving as healthcare educators in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda starting summer 2015. Volunteers serve one-year assignments at medical and nursing schools working alongside local faculty to strengthen the quality of their education and clinical practices.
The Global Health Service Partnership is a collaboration of the Peace Corps, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the non-profit Seed Global Health. The program presents an opportunity for American physicians and nurses to make a tangible difference in communities abroad by addressing the known shortage of skilled physicians, nurses and clinical faculty in resource-limited countries.
The first-ever group of Global Health Service Partnership volunteers left for Africa in 2013 and will complete their service this summer. These volunteers have worked to improve the quality of medical education for more than a thousand students across 11 different medical and nursing schools.
“The opportunity to build capacity rather than be a Band-Aid solution during short stints providing care to patients is what really intrigued me about joining the Global Health Service Partnership,” said Brittney Sullivan, a pediatric nurse practitioner currently volunteering in Malawi.
Applications must be submitted by Dec. 5, 2014 to be considered for departure in 2015. Benefits for volunteers include monthly living stipends, transportation to and from their country of service, comprehensive medical care, a readjustment allowance, and paid vacation days. Qualified volunteers are also eligible for debt repayment of up to $30,000 per year for each year of service through program partner Seed Global Health.
Physician applicants must be board-eligible or board-certified. Nurse applicants must have completed a Bachelor of Science in nursing as well as a post-graduate degree and have a minimum of three years of clinical experience. All applicants must have an active license in the United States.
First established in 2012, this innovative public-private partnership is a Peace Corps Response program, which offers high-impact, short-term assignments for qualified professionals.
Learn more about the Global Health Service Partnership and begin the application process here.
About PEPFAR: The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. Government initiative to help save the lives of people affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. PEPFAR is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease internationally and PEPFAR investments also provide a platform for efforts to address other public health needs. PEPFAR is driven by a shared responsibility among donor and partner nations and others to make smart investments to save lives. For more information, visitwww.pepfar.gov.
About Seed Global Health: Seed Global Health is a non-profit whose mission is to strengthen health systems globally by partnering U.S. physicians and nurses with local educators. Seed Global Health believes educational partnerships can rapidly increase the pool of providers and educators in countries where they are most needed. Committed to recruiting the best-qualified candidates, including those who may have financial constraints to service, Seed Global Health raises and disburses loan repayment and other appropriate stipends of support to individuals chosen for assignments abroad. Visit www.seedglobalhealth.org for more information.
Peace Corps Rape Survivors Lobby Congress For Fair Abortion Coverage
From Huffington Post Today
Posted: 05/06/2014 10:22 am EDT Updated: 3 hours ago
Christine Carcano joined the Peace Corps in 2011, two months after graduating from college, because she wanted to travel the world and promote public health. But she had only served four of her expected 27 months in a rural town in Peru when she says a local man from her community raped her.
“I didn’t tell anyone in my town,” she told The Huffington Post in an interview. “I was in denial. I thought if I didn’t talk about it and didn’t think about it, it would go away on its own.”
Weeks later, when Carcano developed pelvic inflammatory disease as a result of the rape, she had to travel to Lima, Peru, for medical treatment. She finally admitted to the Peace Corps’ medical providers what had happened to her. “It was the first time I could say it out loud,” she said. “It felt like a huge burden had been lifted.”
Because she had been assaulted, Carcano was required by the Peace Corps to have several blood tests done before she could return to her community. Her medical officer came into her hotel room the next day and asked her to sit down on the bed.
“She said, ‘You got some blood tests back,’ and I said, right away, ‘I’m pregnant,’” Carcano recalled. “And she said, ‘Yes.’”
The medical officer then informed Carcano of her options: She could continue her pregnancy and leave the Peace Corps, or the government could fly her to Washington, D.C. for an abortion. But the Corps could not cover the $500 procedure as it had covered all the rest of her medical care.
“It felt like a betrayal,” she said. “The Peace Corps staff had been amazing, but when it came to my biggest hour of need, their hands were tied.”
Carcano was 24 years old at the time, and living on her Peace Corps stipend of about $300 a month, an amount that only just covered rent, food and transportation. Carcano had no money to pay for an abortion, and if she chose to continue the pregnancy, she would have no job, no partner and no savings to help her care for a baby.
She also did not want to ask her parents for money for an abortion, because she didn’t want to tell them she’d been raped and was now pregnant. “I felt very defeated,” she said.
Carcano ended up borrowing money for the procedure from the mother of a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, who mailed a $500 check to Carcano’s brother in the United States. Carcano had to call around to different clinics in the D.C. area, compare prices and set up her own abortion.
By the time she flew into D.C. and arrived at the clinic, she was two months pregnant. The doctor gave her three anesthesia options: light, medium and heavy, depending on what she could afford. She only had enough money for local anesthetic, the lightest option, so she remained awake throughout the procedure.
“I swear, I could feel everything,” she said. “It was an incredibly painful experience, physically, mentally. The pain sort of lives with you. It’s hard to think about the fact that I was financially restricted to a pain threshold.”
Since 1979, the federal appropriations provision that funds the Peace Corps has contained a rider which prohibits funding for abortion, even in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. The policy is out of step with the rest of federal law, which allows abortion coverage in those special circumstances for nearly all other women who receive health coverage through federal streams, including Medicaid recipients, federal employees, residents of the District of Columbia and even women in federal prisons.
But Peace Corps volunteers often serve in countries with no legal abortion access and face a much higher risk of sexual assault than federal employees working in the United States. In a study distributed Tuesday by the Center for Reproductive Rights, researchers interviewed 433 returned Peace Corps volunteers, including 362 women, and found that nearly 10 percent of them had been sexually assaulted during their service, while a third of them knew another volunteer who was sexually assaulted. Five percent of the women surveyed reported having a personal abortion experience, either in the United States or in the country where they were serving.
The study, conducted by researchers with the University of Ottawa, Cambridge Reproductive Health Consultants and the Office of Population Research at Princeton University, found that all of the women who had been sexually assaulted in the Peace Corps described the ban on abortion coverage for rape survivors as “unfair, punitive, and reflective of a broader culture of victim-blaming.”
Since 2011, Democratic members of Congress have been trying to bring abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in line with the coverage other federal health care recipients receive. Last year, the Senate included the provision in its 2013 appropriations bill, but the House version left it out, and the provision was ultimately dropped after the two chambers conferenced on the federal budget.
This year, President Barack Obama has included abortion coverage equity for Peace Corps volunteers in his budget proposal for 2015, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) intend to introduce standalone bills that would permanently codify the provision.
“It is absolutely unconscionable that female Peace Corps volunteers who are victims of sexual assault, or whose pregnancies endanger their lives, are not afforded the same health care access as virtually all other women with federal health coverage,” Lowey told The Huffington Post in an email. “They deserve our steadfast support, and I am working hard to ensure our volunteers get the health care coverage they need to continue serving our country.”
Carcano and Mary Kate Shannon, another returned Peace Corps volunteer who was raped twice during her service, are meeting with members of Congress from both parties this week to urge them to pass the Peace Corps Equity Act and to support Obama’s budget provision. Shannon, who says she was first raped by a taxi driver on her way to lunch in her Peru community, told HuffPost she is trying to protect future volunteers from feeling abandoned by the organization charged with caring for them for 27 months.
“Abortion is a choice no Peace Corps volunteer wants to have to make, but what we do want is fair treatment,” she said. “I don’t want another volunteer to feel as lonely and distraught and helpless as I felt.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 5, 2014
Peace Corps & Rotary Announce Collaboration to Promote
Global Development and Volunteer Service
Initial pilot in the Philippines, Thailand and Togo
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 2014 - Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko today signed a letter of collaboration strengthening the organizations’ cooperation in the United States and abroad to promote global development and volunteer service.
“The missions of our two organizations reflect and reinforce each other,” Hessler-Radelet said. “In our increasingly interconnected world, bringing the Peace Corps and Rotary together in common cause provides more opportunity than ever to leave a greater impact.”
At Rotary International World Headquarters in Evanston, Ill., the two organizations committed to explore initial collaboration in the Philippines, Thailand and Togo. Across these three countries, Peace Corps and Rotary volunteers will be encouraged to share resources and expertise, and Peace Corps volunteers and Rotary clubs in the U.S. can connect to boost the impact of development projects. Through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, Rotary clubs can provide small grants to support volunteers and their communities.
“It makes perfect sense to leverage the strengths of both organizations to achieve maximum impact, efficiency and sustainability in the projects we carry out,” Hewko said. “Together we will work to improve lives and build stronger communities, and - in doing so - address many of the root causes of violence and conflict, such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, and lack of access to clean water and sanitation.”
The Peace Corps and Rotary will also work together to recruit more Americans into Peace Corps service and share their knowledge and understanding of the world with fellow Americans. Both organizations have rich histories of promoting peace and friendship between cultures and undertaking sustainable development activities to help communities in need throughout the world. They also have networks of volunteers and members dedicated to making the world a better place.
Peace Corps and Rotary programs overlap in more than 60 countries, and many returned Peace Corps volunteers join Rotary clubs. The organizations have previously partnered on projects in literacy, water sanitation, and health, and Rotary funds have helped to purchase everything from construction materials to library books.
About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. For more information, visit Rotary.org.
Investigators use Peace Corps act to push for information on sexual assaults
By Kelly Riddell from The Washington Times, Thursday, May 1, 2014
In 2009, Peace Corps volunteer Kate Puzey was found on the porch of her hut with her throat slit shortly after she reported to authorities a colleague she suspected of molesting girls they had taught in the West African village.
The 24-year-old’s death exposed what some critics called a decades-old “blame the victim” culture at the Peace Corps, where sexual assaults often were dismissed or went unreported.
After a two-year legislation campaign led by congressional Republicans, President Obama signed into law the Kate Puzey Act to grant whistleblower protection, improve treatment of sexual assault victims and implement preventive training and education at the Peace Corps.
But the administration’s opaque interpretation of that law is thwarting inquiries by the Peace Corps inspector general, who is tasked with overseeing the law’s implementation, protections and effectiveness.
The Peace Corps‘ inspector general isn’t the only government watchdog being hamstrung by the Obama’s administration, which has promised to be the most open and transparent in history.
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, has testified numerous times that his agency’s independence is threatened because he must ask Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s permission for access to information for some investigations, which at times have included Mr. Holder himself.
Instead of rebuking the system, some inspectors general find it easier to just comply with their agencies’ agendas by hiding or ignoring instances of government abuse.
A former inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security delayed potentially damning reports about scandals that had been covered up and workers who had been punished for speaking out, a Senate report uncovered this week.
In addition, records show that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy personally intervened to delay an inspector general’s investigation into the agency’s Homeland Security Division.
“A big problem is some inspector generals aren’t acting as independently as they should,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, told The Washington Times. “We have a few very good inspector generals. We have a lot of inspector generals who want to do their job, but some of them are a little timid. Then we got some that will really comply to political pressure.”
A ‘blackout of information’
“We’ve currently reached an impasse with the agency” over her office’s role in accessing reports made by volunteers who are victims of sexual assault, Mrs. Buller told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Under the Kate Puzey Act, her office is tasked with overseeing accusations of mismanagement in sexual assault cases.
The act allows victims to report anonymously - so-called “restrictive reporting” - and the Peace Corps‘ general counsel has interpreted that to mean the agency does not have to share with the inspector general’s office all the details of reported sexual assaults.
Currently, her office has nothing to report because even the least information - such as the type of assault and where in the world it occurred - is being denied to the inspector general.
After extensive negotiations, the Peace Corps has allowed Mrs. Buller to obtain the name of the country, the type of assault and where it occurred, but all other information is blocked. This means the inspector general can’t investigate whether proper care was given after the assault, or even whether it was classified correctly.
Additionally, under the Peace Corps‘ interpretation of restrictive reporting, if co-workers or other Peace Corps members witness something about an assault or the management of a case, they cannot report it to the inspector general without violating the Kate Puzey Act.
Seven members of Congress, including Mr. Grassley and Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, have sent a letter asking Peace Corps acting director Carolyn Hessler-Radelet to demand that the agency’s general counsel provide the information Mrs. Buller has requested.
“Significantly, Congress mandated the Inspector General to review not just training - programs and sexual assault policies in the abstract - but whether and how these programs and policies prove effective when applied to specific and individual cases,” their April 23 letter says. “This mandate explicitly requires the Inspector General to investigate the particular facts and circumstances of individual cases of sexual assault that are reported by volunteers.
“Unfortunately, the agency’s General Counsel appears to be determined to substitute his judgment on that question for hers. That is unacceptable,” it says.
The letter was signed by Mr. Grassley and Mr. Manchin, along with Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Reps. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican; Thomas E. Petri, Wisconsin Republican; and Timothy H. Bishop, New York Democrat.
Inspector General Act of 1978
“By providing reporting options that allow volunteers to maintain their privacy, the Peace Corps is creating an environment that helps them regain the control taken from them and access vital support services,” Peace Corps spokeswoman Shira Kramer said in an email to The Times. “The Peace Corps is committed to working with our Inspector General to protect the privacy of volunteers and to provide for effective monitoring and evaluation.”
Department executives throughout the Obama administration are employing such tactics to block or inhibit inspector general investigations, said Angela Canterbury, director of public policy for the Project on Government Oversight, an independent nonprofit watchdog.
“More and more agency executives are pushing back and trying to come up with all sorts of reasons to deny IG’s information,” Mrs. Canterbury said. “General counsels have increasingly, throughout the entire Obama administration, tried to use a variety of tactics to delay or push back on reports.
“Some have used attorney client privilege - as if conversations between an agency’s general counsel and agency personnel somehow shouldn’t be made available to IGs,” she said. “It’s absolutely absurd that an IG doesn’t have a right to any information requested.”
Mr. Horowitz, the inspector general at the Justice Department, has had to seek Mr. Holder’s permission to gain access to grand jury, wiretap and fair credit reporting material. The approval process in obtaining the materials delayed review of Operation Fast and Furious - the failed sting that lost track of more than 1,000 government-issued guns, one of which later was used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent - and has delayed other reports the inspector general is set to publish this year.
At no point has the Justice Department denied any of Mr. Horowitz’s requests, but some in Congress have argued that requiring the inspector general to ask Mr. Holder for materials represents a direct conflict of interest and impairs the inspector general’s independence.
During a hearing this spring, Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, told Mr. Holder that he was worried the Justice Department was intentionally trying to stonewall its inspector general.
“[The] inspector general at the Department of Justice couldn’t do his job unless they had unfettered access to stuff he was seeking,” he told the attorney general. “You seem to be stalling on giving him access to things in the Justice Department.”
Mr. Holder said he was just following the rule of law. His department’s general counsel has interpreted the law to mean that inspectors general cannot have unfettered access to wiretap and grand jury information - an interpretation that some in Congress dispute, but that the Justice Department’s legal counsel has final say over unless congressional action is taken.
Congress is taking note. Mr. Grassley’s office is considering a proposal to rewrite to the Inspector General Act of 1978, which defined an inspector general’s jurisdiction. The rewrite would make clear that the act overrides other laws that may limit an inspector general’s power.
Meanwhile, Mr. Shelby and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulksi, Maryland Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, sent a letter to Mr. Holder questioning his department’s rationale in keeping some information from Mr. Horowitz.
“We’ve either got to get the practices [at the agencies] changed or we’ve got to change the law to clarify,” Mr. Grassley said. “Since we have passed so many laws delegating so much authority to the executive branch of government, we need to police the executive branch of government under checks and balances and oversight.”
Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/1/peace-corps-act-wont-help-as-investigation-into-de/#ixzz30rTP5Bxz
Americans want to disengage from the world is the word from a new poll done by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News. Half of those surveyed want the US to be less active on the global stage. The poll also shows that approval for Obama’s handling of foreign policy sank to the lowest level of his president, with 38% approving.
Well, what does that mean to the Peace Corps?
Well, it means a lot.
The first question we all hear: Is there still a Peace Corps?
The second question: Are Volunteer women still being raped and murdered overseas?
The third question: Why do we still have a Peace Corps?
The tide is against Americans who thinks he or she can change the world.
Of course, we all know that we can’t change the world. In fact, all we can do it change conditions at little bit in two years.
The WSJ article two days ago (4/30/14) says in bold headlines: Americans Grow Weary of World Stage.
Of course, most Americans see the involvement of the U.S. in wars as fruitless, see the Russian intervention in Ukraine as another example of how no one is afraid of America, and no one listens to what America’s preaches, or cares what we think.
Still, everyone wants to live in America! The Russians are buying up properties in Manhattan, forcing wealthy Americans to Queens and Brooklyn.
On our side, we are divided over the benefits of international trade and globalization. In fact, 48% viewed globalization as bad for our economy according to this latest poll.
Instead of Yankee Go Home…It is more like: Russians Go Home! (Or Chinese…Japanese…etc.)
Still, why does all of this matter to the Peace Corps?
It matters because the groundswell of Americans being interest in, or concerned about, the ‘other half of the world’ is no longer part of our DNA.
In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy challenged us: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
And then Kennedy and Shriver gave us the vehicle, the Peace Corps.
We have the ‘vehicle’ in which to “do something for our country” But do Americans still want to ride on it?
We all did for decades.
Now Kennedy is a footnote in history. How many college students graduating this spring turn to their parents and says, “I want to do something for my country.” More likely, the Grad will wonder, “Do you think I can get a job at Google?” Or. “I hear they’re hiring lawyer again. Maybe I’ll go to law school.”
Theses Grads aren’t alone. Read the polls. Americans want to turn their backs on Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and say: “We’re done being No #1. We’re folding out tents and we’re locked out boarders behind us. It’s your turn China to lead the world.”
The Peace Corps certainly isn’t getting much support from the Obama Administration (or Congress!) to change the world. Our President was even afraid to meet with RPCVs (who, by the way, mostly voted for him) at the 50th anniversary in Washington, D.C. Afraid to meet with an agency because of the ‘bad’ press when a PCV had her throat cut when she went out on her own to defend girls being sexually abused by their teachers.
If we can’t honor this courageous PCV, then who should we give all our Peace Corps and NPCA awards to? The last time I looked, there was no place of honor for Kate Puzey in the Peace Corps building. No photograph of this woman in the lobby. Bad PR, I guess. At least at the State Department, they recognize the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
So is this the way the Peace Corps ends? “Not with a bang, but a whimper,” to steal the line from T.S. Eliot.
I think not. And here’s why.
Regardless of the WSJ/Washington Post poll say, and the fatigue of so many Americans who just want to call it quits, there’s hope in this new generation, the Millennials. In my mind, many will be as bold as we once were, all of us Silent Generation (didn’t we show them?) and understand that the Peace Corps is the way to be in touch with the world that awaits them, whether they know it or not standing around in their caps and gowns on the college quad still smoking grass.
This generation, these Millennials, will see that a Peace Corps ‘engagement’ is their salvation. The more they know, the more they travel, the more they are in touch with other nations, will enrich their lives and make them, as Bill Moyers said decades ago, “citizens of the world.” By leaving America and going to where the world needs them, not with a gun, but with a helping hand, they will changed their lives. They will be, as we all were, enriched and educated by the experience. I’ve come to that conclusion from raising a Millennial kid and by working at a college for the last ten years.
So if the Obamas and Boehners and Bushes, all those Tea Partiers, as well as the Isolationists, and even the Liberal Elites, don’t recognize the value of having a new generation schooled in the developing world, these Millennials will join the Peace Corps, and they will come home changed by the world and be better citizen than those of their generation who were afraid to leave America.
[World Malaria Day happened last Friday on April 25 and the Peace Corps is part of the effort to end the disease which kills an estimated 627,000 people every year, mainly children under 5 years of age.
Matt McLaughlin (Senegal 2006-10) is the Program Manager for Stomping Out Malaria in the Peace Corps' Africa-wide malaria prevention program. As a PCV, Matt spent 4 years in southeastern Senegal developing a universal bed net distribution protocol which became the standard protocol for bed net distribution in the country. Prior to coming to Peace Corps, Matt worked as the Staff Development Director for the Greater Manchester Family YMCA.
In an email to me he outlined what the agency did on 'World Malaria Day.']
“We have three main activities this year for World Malaria Day:
1) World Malaria Month Competition/Blog About Malaria Month
We sponsored a competition between countries in the Africa Region to see which country could get the most Volunteers engaged in malaria prevention. The results are collected in a spreadsheet and Patrick’s team helped us create a fantastic data visualization at:http://stompoutmalaria.org/malariamonthmap/
As part of this competition we’re asking Volunteers across Africa to write blogs and inform their friends back home over facebook, twitter, etc. Some of the best blogs are mirrored on our website at: http://stompoutmalaria.org/news/ This page is a great resource for our ongoing malaria prevention work and even outside of world malaria day is updated pretty much daily.
2) Malaria Heroes
Putting a spotlight on the amazing work of our counterparts we ran a “Malaria Heroes” contest modelled on CNN’s Hero Awards. We asked Volunteers across Africa to nominate a PCV/Counterpart pair for this award. We then narrowed the field down to just over 10 entries and put them on our Facebook page here for public voting: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.733279610045903.1073741831.208478415859361&type=1 Over the course of the two weeks when voting was open over 75,000 people visited our FB page.
Once the public had narrowed down the field to 5, we sent those 5 to a panel of experts (many of whom happened to be RPCVs) from MACEPA, the WHO, Abt Associates, the Against Malaria Foundation and ONE. They chose our winners. All finalists received a certificate signed jointly by Carrie and the Global Malaria Coordinator, Admiral Tim Ziemer. Additionally the winners received Nexus 7 tablets courtesy of the NPCA.
3) World Malaria Day Hangout on Air
On Friday we held a Google Hangout on Air from PC HQ. This is a multi-party video chat that is broadcast live and then archived on YouTube. You can see the content here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyRntzh8DUQ&list=PLM0oh3lEA63F3_HpIxCIV2QhnGNPL6LZ1 The panel discussion included Volunteers and their counterparts from Tanzania, Malawi, Cameroon and Rwanda as well as an RPCV from Senegal. We think this is a great way to allow our counterparts to tell their own story directly to the American people (and people all over the world).
In addition to our World Malaria Day activities, we’ve been spending a lot of effort over the past couple of months, and will be increasing this effort over the summer to evangelize a new malaria prevention methodology pioneered by Volunteers in Senegal. The PECADOM+ model is an active case detection model that involved community health workers doing sweeps of a village - door to door - looking for fevers to test and treat, as opposed to passively waiting for patients to come to him or her. This move from the defensive to the offensive in malaria prevention had exceptionally promising results in a handful of villages in 2012, and in 2013 a PCV worked with the ministry of health and CDC to do an extremely rigorous controlled trial of the methodology in 30 villages. The data recently came in and showed a 3X reduction in malaria at the height of the rainy season, and a 16X reduction towards the end of the rainy season.
You can get more information on this project here:
- YouTube Video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuO3sIU_UJ8
- Fact Sheet:http://stompoutmalaria.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/PECADOM-Factsheet-Stomp.pdf
Needless to say, we’re pretty excited about the potential of this methodology and are evangelizing it widely. I was just in Togo and Benin less than a month ago meeting with their respective ministries of health and both are excited to run pilots in their countries. Over the summer we will be developing an advocacy package around this intervention and sharing it widely. At about the same time, the results will be published in a peer reviewed journal and we hope to use the ASTMH conference in the fall as a springboard to share the idea more broadly.”
If you have questions about any of these programs, drop Matt a note at:
About John Coyne Babbles
John Coyne Babbles is a collection of comments, opinions, musings, and outrages from this RPCV who served with the first group (1962-64) in Ethiopia.
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