Nancy Tongue is the RPCV who found the advocacy organization, Health Justice for Volunteers. Here is the email she has sent to her supporters:
where returned Volunteers share their expertise and experiences
Nancy Tongue is the RPCV who found the advocacy organization, Health Justice for Volunteers. Here is the email she has sent to her supporters:
Nick Castle was a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in China. He died while under the care of the Peace Corps doctor. There has been much controversy over the medical treatment that Castle received. His family has filed suit against the Peace Corps, charging that his death was avoidable. The New York Times published an article, “Trail of Medical Missteps in Peace Corps Death“, July 25, 2014, detailing the events leading up to Castle’s death. The Inspector General of the Peace Corps has now completed her evaluation of the care that PCV Castle received immediately before his death. That report has not been released to the public.The New York Times has published a new article, by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, following up on the earlier article. and does includes the statement that the Inspector General found ““cascading delays and failures in the treatment” of Mr. Castle.
To read the entire NYTimes article, here is the link:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/world/report-faults-care-of-peace-corps-volunteer.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news
The Voice of American webpage has the following announcement:
November 13, 2014 7:46 AM
The United States has announced it will set up a Peace Corps program in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
It is the latest way in which the U.S. has expanded cooperation with the long-isolated Southeast Asian country.
A White House statement said there is no better way for the U.S. to demonstrate its commitment to Myanmar than through such “people-to-people connections at a grassroots level.”
It says the first Peace Corps volunteers will arrive in Myanmar in late 2015 and will undergo three months of training before moving to their work sites for two years.
The announcement coincides with a visit to Myanmar by U.S. President Barack Obama, who is attending a regional summit and meeting with the country’s leaders. During the visit, Mr. Obama has expressed concern that Myanmar is slowing, or even reversing, its transition to democracy.
The Peace Corps was established in 1961. Since then, it has sent nearly 220,000 volunteers across the world to help in areas including education, health and agriculture. Part of the organization’s mission is to promote better understanding between Americans and other peoples.
Myanmar will become the 141st country with a Peace Corps program.
The White House said the announcement “further demonstrates the strong partnership and enduring relationship between the United States and Burma.”
(Please note: Peace Corps is currently only in 65 countries.) Here is the link to the announcement:
Are Peace Corps applications really at an historic high? Well not exactly. They are evidently the highest since data was kept electronically, beginning in the late 90s. It has always been a numbers game and one brave RPCV staffer refused to play it. Long before Marian Haley Beil (Ethopia I 62-64) was publisher of Peace Corps Worldwide and before she partnered with John Coyne to promote Peace Corps Writers through newsletters and websites, she was one of the first women staffers at Peace Corps Washington From 11/1965 to 12/1969 Marian worked at the Peace Corps in the Reports and Special Studies Branch (cleverly named by her boss - RSS! These are the initials for Robert Sargent Shriver, Director of the Peace Corps, then ) of the Office of Volunteer Support, first as Deputy Chief of the branch and later as Chief. Among other things, the branch was responsible for all reporting of numbers of Volunteers and Trainees (which, incidentally were never combined together).
Marian describes how she kept those statistics:
“This was pre-computer and all information was complied by staff counting cards by hand that had been filled out by all trainees. We prepared bi-weekly, monthly and quarterly reports that were circulated throughout the agency. Individuals were counted by training program, sex, and Peace Corps status (trainee, training termination, Volunteer, early termination or completion of service) - information received on each individual from Country, and Training staff.”
And now a memo has surfaced that Marian wrote to her boss, JHV, Jack Hood Vaughn, when she discovered that an article in Newsweek had exaggerated the number of serving Volunteers.
Here is that memo:
Subject: The Peace Corps
[From: Marian Haley, RSS]
I am worried about the Peace Corps. My concern has been brought to a head by the January 15, 1968 Newsweek article - “The Peace Corps: Well Can She?”
One sentence in it reads, “The total number of volunteers overseas - 14.389 - is higher than ever, they (P.C. ‘officials’) noted and …” This statement is not only not true but far from true. As of December 31, 1967 the total number of Volunteers overseas was 12,228 - 2,161 less than stated. Newsweek’s figure was even 1,146 more than the total on board at that time. [Vs & Ts].
Now, the second part of the clause - “… is higher than ever.” Attached is a table showing the number of Volunteers overseas at the end of each month for the last year and a half. The facts are: the count has never been as high as stated, it is less than the comparable figure of 1966, as well as less than eight other monthly totals during the time examined.
I realize that the weekly news magazines are not 100% accurate in their reporting, but they get their basic information from someone. And their articles are current - thus it should be possible for them to print timely information (after all, the conference they spoke of was only last week!).
My worry - is Peace Corps at the point where we must lie? I believe that the Peace Corps is a basic good and thus find it hard to accept such a necessity.
Total Volunteers overseas, but month
July 31, 1966 - Dec 31, 1967
Feb 12, 866
July 9,353 10,971
Aug 8,543 10,585
Sept 10,368 11,902
Oct 11,495 12,249
Nov 11,967 12,424
Dec 12,313 12,228
There is as Marian says a “back story” to the memo suddenly appearing. Contrary to some myths, Peace Corps Washington was not a government version of “Mad Men.” Women held important positions. Marian not only rose to the office of Chief of the Branch of Special Reports and Studies but she hired men, one of whom she later married, Don Beil. After he had left the agency, they were courting and Marian sent him a copy of her memo to Vaughn. Don has kept that memo all these years! That romantic gesture has preserved an important historic document.
I believe this statement from Marian’s memo should be engraved over the PR office at Peace Corps Headquarters:
“My worry - is Peace Corps at the point where we must lie? I believe that the Peace Corps is a basic good and thus find it hard to accept such a necessity.”
Thank you to John Coyne for forwarding the following Peace Corps Update designed specifically for RPCVs. I believe that it is published through the Office of the Third Goal. The webpage has a menu specifically designed to link RPCVs to more information. Here is the link to view that entire webpage: http://www.mailoutinteractive.com/Industry/View.aspx?id=626719&q=799195384&qz=899601
Of real interest to RPCVs might well be the description of the positions open with Peace Corps Response. Scroll down to that heading. Much of this information can be found in other parts of the official Peace Corps website. However, this Update is designed specifically for RPCVs and includes the personal letter from Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet.
At first glance, I am not sure how much of an incentive the loan program would have to those RPCVs struggling with gigantic student loan debt. The plan appears to require 120 payments be made first. I think that is ten years. The whole problem of student loan debt is far beyond the capacity of Peace Corps to solve. However, I argue that Peace Corps could explore the programs that both the military and the Public Health Service employ. In those programs, college expenses are covered for qualified applicants in high demand professions. In return, the student agrees to a certain number of years of service in exchange.
Such a program could provide skilled personnel for the Peace Corps. It would also mean that citizens who can not afford to serve, now, because they can not afford to forego two years of regular salary, could have an avenue to serve.
The Washington Post reports that the Peace Corps’ local network in Liberia helped the CDC begin its ebola fighting efforts. Here is the link to the article:
Thanks to the National Peace Corps Association for posting the information about the Washington Post article on their Facebook page. From that article, read the following:
Greg Thorne, the deputy team leader for the CDC in Liberia, wrote to Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet this past week, thanking the agency for smoothing the path for American public health workers in the county of Gbarpolu.
“We, the CDC team members, entered Gbarpolu as strangers,” Thorne wrote. “Carried by community goodwill . . . and connected by our Peace Corps colleague’s extensive local network, we were able to rapidly integrate with the county leadership and earn the trust necessary for them to openly discuss challenges and take our suggestions to heart.”
The Peace Corps staffers have relationships with local leaders, police officers, religious officials and fellow teachers. They know the local English dialects and have been interpreting for CDC workers and helping them understand local customs.
The Liberian civil war took away the country’s political infrastructure, said Samuel Sampson, a Liberian and the Peace Corps’s program manager for secondary education. He said credibility and political clout lie primarily with local people in each county.
“You need to know these people,” Sampson said. “You need to know the gathering spots.”
George Karneh, another Liberian working with the Peace Corps, has also guided CDC teams into rural areas. “For me, I look at Ebola as a war,” Karneh said. “I look at it as an important mission, a lifesaving one. It’s going to be written in history that, once upon a time, we had this awful thing . . . and people were able to stand and fight it along with the CDC.”
Peace Corps did evacuate all Volunteers from Liberia last July because of the ebola threat. This article speaks to the value of the Host Country employees who mann the in-country Peace Corps administration and the importance of the work that the Volunteers did over the years. Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet has also posted a Passport commentary on the help that these Host Country Peace Corps staff are offering as well as how the evacuated Volunteers and other Volunteers are helping to fight Ebola from the home front. Here is the link: http://passport.peacecorps.gov/2014/10/29/what-peace-corps-can-do-to-fight-ebola/#more-1846
Peace Corps applications were at an historic low for 2013. A campaign to increase applications for 2014 was successfully. It is not known how this will translate into serving Volunteers. It is possible, however, to look at the consequences of the lack of an adequate number of applications for 2013.
The Peace Corps Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2013 reported “The number of applications has produced challenge in meeting the demand for skilled Volunteers at the quantity requested by posts.” Peace Corps does not include comprehensive demographic statistics in its annual reports. To obtain this information, it was necessary to make a FOIA request. The request was made on July 14, 2014 and this information was not received until October 22rd. It is not known if some or all of these positions were filled in 2014. Absent current data, it is difficult to know exactly what is happening with Peace Corps.
Here is the description and the number of skilled requests that went unfilled.
Forestry — 3
Volunteers help communities conserve natural resources by working on projects such as soil conservation, watershed management and flood control; other projects include production of sustainable fuels, improvement of agro-forestry practices such as fruit production, building live fences and alley cropping and preservation of biodiversity,sometimes near national parks or other reserves.
Protected Areas Management — 1
Volunteers provide technical assistance and training in natural resource conservation, generally in close affiliation with national parks or other reserves. Their activities include technical training of park managers, working with park staff on wildlife surveys, conducting community-based conservation such as sustainable use of forest or marine resources and promoting income-generating activities for communities living near protected areas.
Environmental Awareness/Education — 7
Volunteers assist communities where environmental issues are in conflict with basic needs for farming and income generation. Their activities include teaching in elementary and secondary schools, providing environmental education to youth groups and individuals outside school settings, organizational development of environmental groups (often in newly emerging democracies), promoting sustainable use of forest or marine resources by communities, development of income-generating activities for communities living near protected areas and management of sanitation in urban areas.
Applied Agricultural Science — 4
Volunteers encourage sustainable-crop production through promotion or organic-farming techniques and better farm management. Among their activities are conducting workshops on integrated pest management, introducing composting, green manures, and other soil improvement techniques, testing new varieties of seeds and demonstrating post-harvest management methods, and teaching agriculture and extension methodologies in formal training institutions.
Farm Management/Agribusiness —3
Volunteers work with small-scale farmers, farmers’ cooperatives, agribusinesses, and non-governmental organizations. They teach basic business practices such as marketing, credit price determination, and general business planning, work on crop and livestock production and preservation, assist in organizing networks of local farmers, identify market structures and channels and perform production cost and price analysis.
Agriculture and Forestry Extension — 20
Volunteers’ projects include establishing and maintaining soil and water conservation structures and practices, fruit tree production, live fences, and other agriculture-related forestry practices, fish cultivation, raising trees in small nurseries, apiculture and honey production, livestock health, meat and wool production, range management, vegetable gardening and nutrition education.
Water and Sanitation Extension — 2
Volunteers serve in a broad range of projects including organizing and mobilizing communities to provide health and huygiene education, buliding latrines imroving potable water storage and doing community outreach to heighten health, water and sanitation and environmental awareness. May participate in tapping springs, overseeing well construction or building latrines.
Business Advising — 30
Volunteers work in a variety of settings, assisting both private and public businesses, local and regional governments, nonprofit organizations, women’s and youth groups and educational institutions. They train and advise entrepreneurs and managers in business planning, marketing, financial management and product design; they also advise agricultural cooperatives, agribusinesses, and farmers, develop and write project funding proposals and work with community and business support groups. Other projects Volunteers work in include assisting with credit programs, facilitating business training workshops, and teaching business courses, English, and Junior Achievement programs.
Information and Communication Technology — 1
Volunteers provide technical training and support to school systems, health ministries, municipal government offices, and non-governmental organizations. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) facilitate the creation, storage, management and dissemination of information by electronic means. This definition includes radio, video, telephony, fax, computer and the Internet. The broadening of this AA from principally Computer Science and Information Technology is to facilitate the recruitment and placement of Volunteers with a range of media experiences, including web, radio and video, and to distinguish between those with hard skills (e.g., database development) and those with greater experience in the use of media for entertainment/education messaging. With the rapid pace of technological deployment in communications and content services, many possible Candidates will already possess significant ICT literacy through several years of self-taught, informal and/or formal instruction in these areas.
Business Development — 5
Volunteers work in a wide variety of projects in secondary schools, technical institutes, universities, non-governmental organizations and business centers. They consult with businesses and conduct seminars on starting a business, strategic planning, marketing, merchandising, organizational development, and tourism development. They also advise Junior Achievement organizations, teach basic business subjects and English, develop business education curricula, design training materials, work with women and minority groups to strengthen their participation in the economic system, and assist local and regional governments in planning and implementing economic development strategies.
NGO Development — 15
Volunteers work with local, national, or international NGOs that deal with youth, social services, small business development or the environment. Typical projects include increasing an NGO’s organizational capacity and sustainability, creating strategic and funding plans, raising public awareness of an NGO’s mission, conducting community outreach, recruiting, training, and motivating NGO Volunteers, developing mission statements, by-laws and other documentation, working with board of directors, mentoring and skill building of staff and increasing the quality and effectiveness of an NGO’s services.
Health Degree — 10
Volunteers teach public health in classrooms and model methodologies and subjects for primary and secondary school teachers. Projects include undertaking “knowledge, attitude, and practice” surveys in communities, assisting clinics or government planning offices in identifying health education needs, devising educational programs to address local health conditions, assisting in marketing of messages aimed at improving local health practices, carrying out epidemiological studies and acting as backup professionals for other health Volunteers. Volunteers also work in local health clinics to develop health education and outreach programs.
Health Extension — 38
Volunteers raise awareness in communities about the need for health education. They play the role of catalyst on a wide range of activities, limited only by the creativity of the community and the Volunteer. Activities include identifying local leaders to teach families about maternal and child health, basic nutrition or sanitation, setting up training on nutrition, sanitation or oral re-hydration therapy, organizing groups to raise money for needed health care materials, and training of trainers for peer education about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Community Services — 32
Volunteers coordinate with other Peace Corps projects by conducting community outreach and needs assessments. They act as catalysts for change and are continually engaged in defining their role in response to their host community. Community development projects focus on education, youth development, health (especially HIV/AIDS), the environment or business, or a combination of these projects. Volunteers often work in youth development projects, working with after-school programs or out-of-school youth to develop activities, support youth in income-generating efforts and plan and facilitate non-formal education programs.
Youth Development —13
Volunteers work with at-risk youth between ages 10-25 years helping communities to develop programs to assist these young people. Projects include vocational training, working with street kids, self-esteem and leadership-development activities, income-generation, health education, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, life-skills development, community organizing, organizational development, training of youth development workers and stay-in-school programs.
Primary Teacher Training — 29
Volunteers provide formal and informal training and support to elementary school teachers and occasionally provide classroom instruction. They work with one or several schools, or teacher training colleges, to model participatory methodologies, conduct workshops and provide on-going teacher to local teachers. Some primary education projects focus specifically on health, HIV/AIDS, the environment, childhood development, ESL, remedial education, science or language arts.
Secondary Education - TEFL/English Teaching — 114
Volunteers teach conversational English, TEFL, or content-based English in middle and high schools. In addition to classroom teaching, Volunteers share resources, develop teaching materials with local teachers and become involved in community- and school-based projects.
University English Teaching — 6
Volunteers work with university-level students who need enhanced English language skills to make use of academic and technical resources published in English in their study of languages, literature, business, medicine, engineering or other fields. Volunteers teach English grammar, conversation, phonetics, American literature and culture, creative writing and linguistics, establish English language clubs and resource centers, share ideas and develop materials with fellow teachers and integrate communicative teaching techniques into the classroom.
Secondary Education - Math — 13
Volunteers in math teach basic concepts, including remedial math, geometry, algebra, statistics, probability and calculus. They also work in after-school programs, youth clubs and library development.
Secondary Education - Science —10
Volunteers in science teach general science, biology, chemistry and physics. In addition to classroom teaching, science teaching Volunteers integrate health education and environmental education in their classrooms and engage in other school and community activities.
Special Education —2
Volunteers work with education offices, schools, and local teachers, focusing on methodology, individualized instruction, classroom management and resource development for teachers of students with special needs. Volunteers also work with parents and the community to develop projects to raise public awareness and understanding of people with disabilities.
Secondary Education - English Teacher Training — 15
Volunteers work with new and experienced English teachers training student teachers at teachers colleges or providing in-service training to experienced teachers in current methodologies, subject content and resource development, thus creating sustainable improvements in teaching that will affect generations of future students. Projects include increasing local teachers’ English language competency and conversational skills and organizing teacher associations or training seminars.
Unique Skills —11
Unique Skills is used for requests that fall outside of the established assignment areas. Unique skill requests vary dramatically in the types of skills required and can include requests for highly skilled Volunteers such as curriculum development specialists, medical doctors, veterinarians, theater design specialists, and evaluation and assessment specialists.
The National Peace Corps Association is a membership association for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. It is not an official part of the Peace Corps. However, it has always advocated for the Peace Corps Community. Now the Peace Corps has established a more formal relationship with the NPCA. This Memorandum of Understanding was signed during the NPCA’s annual gathering last June.
Read the Memorandum of Understanding between the Peace Corps and the National Peace Corps Association by clicking MOU between Peace Corps and NPCA
The following description of the activities is from that Memorandum of Understanding:
A. Under this MOU, subject to certain limitations applicable to each party, the Peace Corps and NPCA intend to collaborate on areas of mutual interest that may include, but are not limited to, activities and initiatives that serve to educate the public on the Peace Corps and its mission, programs, and activities and highlight joint Third Goal activities and NPCA efforts on Third Goal activities.
B. The parties further intend, in connection with any collaboration under this MOU as set forth below, that:
1. The Peace Corps reserves and retains the right to establish and direct programs and activities in accordance with all applicable legal authorities. Moreover, the Peace Corps will not be engaged or involved in, or collaborate with ‘tl’iPCA on, or promote or publicize NPCA’s advocacy or fundraising, or membership drives, or any activities that do not directly relate to the Peace Corps’ mission.
2. NPCA reserves and retains the right to establish and direct its activities in accordance with its governing charters and rules.
3. Within 60 days of signing this MOU, the Peace Corps and NPCA, working collaboratively, will begin discussions and development of potential activities designed to carry out the purpose of this MOU. Such discussions and planning will seek to identify, prepare, and plan for implementation of specific activities, and identify expected outcomes of these activities.
C. Administration and Coordination
Each party will identify a liaison to prcvide overall coordination of the MOU.
D. Type and Scope of Potential Activities
The parties intend to work collaboratively to identify types of activities and define the scope of such activities that may include, but is not limited to activities that: support and advance the Three Goals of the Peace Corps; support mutual efforts contributing to Peace Corps Volunteer recruitment; to the extent legally permissible share and exchange information and data relevant to mutual interests, activities and objectives; mutually promote joint initiatives that create greater awareness of the Peace Corps and the Peace Corps experience; support future and ongoing Volunteer service; support the promotion and enhancement of Peace Corps’ RPCV career offerings; support and strengthen activities of RPCV groups related to the Third Goal; promote community service, diversity and inclusion, and other mutually advantageous activities and initiatives.”
I hope that this new partnership will help to create more public awareness of the many activities that Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and their many country of service and geographic member groups conduct in pursuit of the Third Goal.
In 2010, Peace Corps opened up the Peace Corps Volunteer Response Program to professionals who had never served in the Peace Corps. Previously, the program had been designed to allow only RPCVs to accept short term assignments with the Peace Corps to utilize the expertise they had gained through their Peace Corps service.
Facts to note in this profile about the Peace Corps Response Program:
1) The total of Peace Corps Response applications for 2013 was 2631, actual applicants were 1506. There were 184 Peace Corps Response Volunteers, serving on September 30, 2013.
Here is the chart showing these numbers:
-2012 to April 2014, 14-0213_-_responsive_material_-_fy12_fy13_fy14-
2) It is very difficult to get detailed demographic data from Peace Corps. These statistics are already a year old. It is not possible to know how many of the 1506 applicants documented in 2013 went on to serve in 2014.
3) My assumption is that the total number of Peace Corps Response Volunteers does include the 30 Global Health Service Volunteers, nurses and doctors who are medical educators.
4) Of the 184 PC Response Volunteers, 148 are RPCVs. I find this very encouraging. The character of the program remained dominated by the experience and values of RPCVs, at least at the end of fiscal year 2013.
Here is the profile: Please excuse the slightly off center match between category and number.
|Age group||Count of PCRV|
|Sex||Count of PCRV|
|Ethnic code||Count of PCRV|
|Asian or Pacific Islander||
|Black or African-American||
|Hispanic or Latino||
|No ethnicity reported||
|Two or more races||
|RPCV Status||Count of PCRV|
The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 established a Sexual Assault Advisory Council charged with the responsibility of reviewing Peace Corps’ compliance with that law and issuing an annual report. Peace Corps announced the first report in a press release. Since then, the report has been posted without notice. It is not listed on the Peace Corps Home page under Agency Links, nor Agency Documents, nor Safety and Security. It can be found only by those who know to put the correct heading, “Sexual Assault Advisory Council”, in the search box. Here is the direct link to that important report: http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/policies/PCAC_Annual_Report.pdf
The law, itself, is the work of a brave and brilliant group of RPCV women, First Response Action. These women were victims, themselves, of sexual assault, during service as was current Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. First Response Action organized to call attention to Peace Corps victims of Sexual Assault and to lobby for legislation to address the problem. At a time of a divided partisan Congress, the group was able to successfully lobby for bipartisan unanimous support to pass the legislation. The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act was named for Volunteer Kate Puzey who was murdered directly after attempting to advocate for her female students who had come to her with their complaints of sexual assault by a teacher. That murder remains unsolved. There are those who believe that the murder stands as a warning to those who would try and advocate for female students.
The problem of sexual exploitation of women is epidemic in the world. Our own military is struggling with the problem, as are colleges and universities. Peace Corps publicizes its support of empowering girls and women. Yet, it does not laud the work of its own alumni, the RPCV women of First Response Action: Nor is it in the forefront of the fight to protect women. I wish that the Annual Report of the Sexual Assault Advisory Council was announced, each year, by a Peace Corps Press Conference, calling attention to the world wide problem, lauding the work of First Response Action and demanding protection for women and girls, everywhere. I wish that the “powers that be” at Peace Corps were 1/100th as brave as the women of First Response Action and Kate Puzey.
Read the section of the law establishing the Council:
Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] - ENR)
‘ESTABLISHMENT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT ADVISORY COUNCIL
‘(g) Sunset- This section shall cease to be effective on October 1, 2018.
The history of the Peace Corps can be found in the hearts and minds of people all over the world. It abounds in books and blogs, oral histories, letters, journals, and stories we tell each other. My focus is on one small part of this history: the public records of the Peace Corps. I hope to share what I have found about these records and what I couldn’t find. I welcome comments, corrections, and suggestions. — Joanne