Peace Corps: Public Records

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“Help Girls Learn” May Not Be An “Easy Task”
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New Members of Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council
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Losing a Piece of the Past – A Peace Corps Blog by Thomas O. Isom
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RPCV Oral History collection at the John F. Kennedy Library: Update
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Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1, KJV)
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A Wonderful Story About RPCV Mary Myers-Bruckenstein RN and Ethiopian Berhane Daba
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Peace Corps Director and Ambassador Birx Discuss the Future of PEPFAR
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First Goal, First Amendment and the Faith Based Initiative
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Peace Corps Enters the Religious Domain: Read How. But Why?
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Is Peace Corps Lying? UPDATE 7.30.15

“Help Girls Learn” May Not Be An “Easy Task”

Michael Buckler (Malawi 2006–08) , author of the Peace Corps memoir From Microsoft to Malawi: Learning on the Front Lines as a Peace Corps Volunteer [Hamilton Books, 2010] has written an article for the website Humanosphere — “The not-so-easy task of educating girls“ — updating his efforts as a PCV to “help girls learn.” The piece is critical to understanding the obstacles that many young women face in trying to continue their education. Buckler describes the problems that young women had in his area. The underlying causes were many. Although long distances from home to school plagued both sexes, boys were more likely to commute on a bicycle. Girls also faced intense pressure to drop out of school, get married, and perform domestic chores while at home. Girls who tried to overcome these obstacles by renting rooms near campus often faced unsanitary and unsafe living conditions, including sexual harassment from . . .

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New Members of Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council

The Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council was mandated by Sec. 8 D. of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection of 2011. Kate Puzey was a Volunteer in Benin. She was murdered. Her murder remains unsolved.  Kate Puzey was a teacher and she had complained to the Peace Corps Office that a Host National Teacher, with an association with the Peace Corps, was sexually exploiting her female students. She was murdered shortly after making this report.  It is widely believed that her murder was in retaliation for her report. This remains speculation because her murderers have not brought to justice. In the Congressional hearings as the bill was being considered, RPCV women testified about their experience as sexual assault victims during Peace Corps service. The legislation is designed to address this problem. Sexual exploitation of young women in host countries who want to get an education is not addressed by . . .

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Losing a Piece of the Past – A Peace Corps Blog by Thomas O. Isom

Peace Corps writers bring their communities to life. From their unique perspective, they allow us to share  a moment in the lives of people we would never otherwise know or understand. Through the years, from letters written on tissue thin airmail papers, to film sent away to be developed, to journals that became books, to videos, Volunteers have sought to bring their world home. Today, blogs are the media of choice for Volunteers. The blogs are unofficial and Volunteers must adhere to guidelines established by Peace Corps. But the stories still say “Look what I see,” “Let me share what I have learned,” “Know these people as I do.” One such special blog is this written by Thomas O. Isom, Volunteer serving now in Mozambique.  Peace Corps has published it on its Passport Blog on the official Peace Corps web page.  Here is the link: http://passport.peacecorps.gov/2015/09/25/losing-a-piece-of-the-past/ It is also reprinted here. . . .

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RPCV Oral History collection at the John F. Kennedy Library: Update

One of the many hidden treasures of Peace Corps history is the RPCV Oral History Collection at the JFK Library, begun more than fifteen years ago by RPCV Robert Klein,(Ghana I). Bob interviewed members of Ghana I for his book, Being First: An Informal History of the Early Peace Corps Robert Klein (Ghana 1961-63) Wheatmark, 2010* and realized how valuable those taped interviews were. He decided to expand to interview as many RPCVs as possible, at his own expense. For years, he crisscrossed the country, interviewing RPCVs and teaching them how to interview others. The JFK Library agreed to archive the tapes. There are now APPROXIMATELY 400 individual RECORDED interviews, one to three hours long. Years of service represented go from 1961 through 2015. All RPCVs may participate. Sadly, Bob died in 2012.  His partner, RPCV Phyllis Noble, (Nigeria 65-67) has continued his work. In an email, Phyllis wrote: “I’m delighted . . .

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Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1, KJV)

Director Carrie Hessler- Radelet did not quote the King James Bible when she introduced the Peace Corps new Faith Based Initiative at Calvin College last February. She did announce that the purpose was to “connect with faith-based NGOs and networks in the United States, and also to better support communities of faith overseas” Here, again, is the link to her remarks: http://www.calvin.edu/chimes/2015/02/12/peace-corps-director-opens-up-on-faith-development-and-changes-in-the-peace-corps/ How will Peace Corps implement its Faith Based Imitative when there is no agreement among religions on how to translate Faith into practice? Description of what is planned: statement-of-work-faith-based-advisor-15-0122-22 Two main categories of questions need to be answered, I think: How will the religious and legal environment in host countries impact this Faith Based Initiative? Will the demands of the Faith Based Initiative burden further overseas staff, 90% of whom are Host Country Nationals, responsible for the training, site selection and support of Volunteers? I welcome comments and . . .

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A Wonderful Story About RPCV Mary Myers-Bruckenstein RN and Ethiopian Berhane Daba

In 1966, Mary Myers Bruckenstein, RN and Peace Corps Volunteer was teaching in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when she was introduced to a tragic little girl, Berhane Daba. Four year old Daba had polio and couldn’t walk. Her family was unable to care for her. An operation to strengthen her legs left her in a full body cast. The orphanage would not take Daba back because they could not care for her. Mary Meyers-Bruckenstein took Daba into her home and into her life. A life long relationship began.  Merle English describes this beautiful story in an article in the Sunday, August 16, 2015 issue of Newsday. Here is the link to read it. http://origin.misc.pagesuite.com/pdfdownload/c72baa3a-5fc3-4ae2-980f-21248b8e93e9.pdf From the article: “On June 6, in an auditorium at the University of California, Berkeley, Myers-Bruckenstein, 69, a retired registered nurse and former Peace Corps Volunteer beamed like a proud mother as Berhane Daba, an Ethiopian orphan whose . . .

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Peace Corps Director and Ambassador Birx Discuss the Future of PEPFAR

Peace Corps Volunteers are fighting HIV/AID and winning!  Here is the press release from Peace Corps. “WASHINGTON, D.C., August 6, 2015 – Today Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet welcomed U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx, the head of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), for a town hall-style meeting at Peace Corps headquarters. During the discussion, Ambassador Birx and Director Hessler-Radelet spoke of PEPFAR’s progress and reiterated the importance of reaching epidemic control. Ambassador Birx also thanked Peace Corps volunteers for their work in the fight against HIV/AIDS, emphasizing the important role the agency plays in creating sustainable, community-led responses to HIV in countries around the world. “The Peace Corps has been a critical contributor to PEPFAR’s‎ success from the onset of the program,” said Ambassador Birx. “Peace Corps volunteers occupy unique positions of within the communities that they serve, which support PEPFAR’s ability to deliver life-saving . . .

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First Goal, First Amendment and the Faith Based Initiative

Calvin College maintains a special partnership  with the Christian Reform Church. (http://www.calvin.edu/about/who-we-are/church.html) It was there, last February, that Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet announced a new program for Peace Corps, a Faith Based Initiative, to ” connect with faith-based NGOs and networks in the United States, and also to better support communities of faith overseas.”Here, again, is the link to her remarks: http://www.calvin.edu/chimes/2015/02/12/peace-corps-director-opens-up-on-faith-development-and-changes-in-the-peace-corps/ The actual Peace Corps program, as I understand it, is in its early stages of development.  To read, again,  the Statement of Work, Faith Based Advisor, Office of Strategic Partnerships, here is the link:statement-of-work-faith-based-advisor-15-0122-21 I have questions about this new Faith Initiative.  But first, this review: -Since the beginning, Peace Corps Volunteers, of all faiths, have served in host countries dominated by many different faiths. Many placements have been in church run schools, universities, clinics and hospitals. Peace Corps Volunteers have always been trained to respect the cultural and . . .

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Peace Corps Enters the Religious Domain: Read How. But Why?

Last February, Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet spoke at Calvin University. The article reports Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet saying: ““Peace Corps does not mind at all if people practice their faith; in fact, we welcome it,” she continued. “We do discourage proselytizing because we are a government agency. But I think individual Christians are able to live their faith and are able to participate in local faith communities as members.” In part as a recognition of this, Hessler-Radelet explained, the Peace Corps recently started a new faith initiative which intends both to connect with faith-based NGOs and networks in the United States, and also to better support communities of faith overseas. While this initiative is a new step for the Peace Corps, Hessler-Radelet does not see it as a dramatic change. To read her comments, here is the link: http://www.calvin.edu/chimes/2015/02/12/peace-corps-director-opens-up-on-faith-development-and-changes-in-the-peace-corps/ I made a Freedom of Information Request, March 30, 2015, to learn more about . . .

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Is Peace Corps Lying? UPDATE 7.30.15

UPDATE:  I requested and did receive a telephone call from the FOIA Officer. She said that the reply I had received  was confusing and she hoped to correct the confusion and send a more comprehensive response to my request for information about the new faith initiative.  Evidently, the program is only in the very early stages of development. I will post the amended response when it is received.  I do appreciate the communication. Original post: Last February, Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet spoke at Calvin University.  To read her comments, here is the link: http://www.calvin.edu/chimes/2015/02/12/peace-corps-director-opens-up-on-faith-development-and-changes-in-the-peace-corps/ The article reports Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet saying: ““Peace Corps does not mind at all if people practice their faith; in fact, we welcome it,” she continued. “We do discourage proselytizing because we are a government agency. But I think individual Christians are able to live their faith and are able to participate in local faith communities as members.” . . .

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