“6 Reasons We Need to Reform the Peace Corps” by Tyler Anne Donohue (Tanzania)

 

 

The Peace Corps is a form of systematic racism, for those it claims to serve and for those who serve.

The words, “systematic racism,” seem to be everywhere these days. However, it is crucial that we acknowledge that the words, “systematic racism,” do not refer to a system filled with racists. Instead, these words, refer to a system that would uphold racism and disproportionately harm and subjugate people of certain races even if no racists were present. Those leading the effort to decolonize Peace Corps, @decolonizingpc discussed systematic racism, saying that, “Even after adding more volunteers of color, more anti-racism trainings, more reforms (including the ones [they] have proposed on [their] page), Peace Corps will still be a neocolonialist organization because of the imperialistic goals of U.S. foreign policy.

Which brings us to Number 2 —

Soft power imperialism, such as providing financial aid or human resources for development, functions best under the pretense of altruism, though it remains predominantly self-serving.

It is an inherently imperialistic organization.

What does it mean to be an imperialistic organization, you may ask? Imperialism is an ideological framework, oftentimes carried out with government policy that works to extend the rule or authority of one country over another country. Such policies have historically been carried out under the guise of “civilizing” and “developing” other nations, employing both hard power, such as military force, but also soft power. Soft power imperialism, such as providing financial aid or human resources for development, functions best under the pretense of altruism, though it remains predominantly self-serving. Self-serving in what ways, you might ask?

Well, on to Number 3 — It is a neocolonialist organization.

While Peace Corps holds dear to certain values and goals, it has always been an organization that functions mostly to serve U.S. foreign policy and the volunteers over the people that they are serving. In other words, Peace Corps functions as the United States’ most prominent soft power asset. In doing so, it is, by its very nature, an organization rooted in neocolonialism, or, “the practice of using economies, globalization, cultural imperialism, and conditional aid to influence a country.” In other words, we have traded direct political and military control, for a softer, but perhaps more insidious, form of control.

Father-Knows-Best Paternalism Meets The White Mans Burden

Imperialistic policies rely heavily on paternalism, which “limits a person’s or group’s liberty or autonomy and is intended to promote their own good.” A classic example of both imperialism and paternalism working together would be the 19th century European, “Scramble for Africa,” in which the African continent was sliced and divided in order to reap the benefits of its myriad natural resources. European nations — imbued with a sense of superiority that they saw as their divine providence from God himself — invaded African nations using the framework of paternalism to pillage and completely fracture traditional African ways of life and their political structures. Additionally, they imposed “patriarchal social structures into European-dominated hierarchies and imposed Christianity and Western ideals.” The effects of this so-called scramble still permeate African policy today. At the turning point of the 19th century, this seemingly pre-ordained calling to “civilize” other nations, was cemented in the poem, “The White Man’s Burden (1899),” which called upon the superior white man to go forth and colonize these far-off lands.

Neocolonialist policy that cloaks itself in good intention, lives at the intersection of “the white man’s burden” and the developing world’s need for self-determination and autonomy.

In the 20th century, the conceptual framework of the white man’s burden has been used by proponents of decolonization, to critique foreign expansionism and interventionism. Arguing that neocolonial programs more often than not perpetuate the idea that so-called developing nations are unable to embrace self-determination. Neocolonialist policy that cloaks itself in good intention, lives at the intersection of “the white man’s burden” and the developing world’s need for self-determination and autonomy.

So, why do post-colonial nations still struggle for autonomy? Well, it’s far more complicated than a 6 point list could cover, but let’s dip our toes in —

Peace Corps’ aid structure is based on conditional financial and human resource aid that has no proven long-term results for those it claims to serve.

Aid on the African Continent is a problem. It is a complex, goliath of a problem. One need only read Dambisa Moyo’s scathing book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Wayin order to get the picture of the international development industrial complex. She makes the argument that the aid industry in Africa is not only ineffective, it is “malignant.” Over the last 50 years, more than $1 trillion in development aid has been given to Africa. She argues that this aid has, “failed to deliver sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction — and has actually made the continent worse off.”

While the entirety of the Peace Corps’ financial structure could, and should be investigated, here we are going to unpack only one part of this structure: small grants, which are organized by the volunteers and then in-theory allocated to the communities in which they serve. As explained by those running the @decolonizingpc Instagram,

The entire process for the Small Grants Program completely relies on the presence of the volunteer, from the application and fundraising to monitoring and evaluation . . .. Peace Corps practices do not live up to [its primary goal of sustainability] because project funding by the Small Grants Program requires the presence of the volunteer, who at any moment can leave site permanently without notice. It should also not be up to Peace Corps or any volunteer to decide what sustainability looks like for a community.

Peace Corps’ structure attempts to move away from the aid industry — in the sense that it sends (in theory) skilled volunteers — abroad to help build sustainable programs rather than blindly throwing money at the problem. This type of aid is not conditional in a quid pro quo sense, but rather that the aid is conditional on the volunteer being there. And if the volunteer must be there for the aid or benefit to be reaped, well then, the goal of sustainability is called into question, and dare I say, inherently flawed. This became startlingly transparent in March 2020, when thousands of volunteers were suddenly pulled from their host countries due to COVID-19 — leaving communities in a lurch, funding stalled, and crucial projects never to be finished.

The conditional aid structure and very nature of both Peace Corps promise and its inability to create sustainable change, calls to question whether or not it has a place in the global community. People that work in the aid/development world love to say, “the goal is to work ourselves out of a job.” And yet, it remains a financially fruitful industry for those employed by it, including the Peace Corps.

It relies on a Westernized model of development.

During my time as a Peace Corps volunteer, while I traveled, while I read books about the aid industry and the developing world, one question always seemed to creep in from the recesses of my mind: “Developing toward what?”

What exactly do we mean when we say, “a westernized model of development?” Two well-regarded Iranian scholars and economists claimed that, “The western model of development prioritizes technological modernization, free-market economy, a democratic political system, and western health systems as the basis for development.” So, these items are used as metrics to measure the success of a nations’ development. Yet, those nations that we consider successfully developed (i.e. Britain or the U.S.) reached their status, “at the expense of slavery, war, other gross human rights violations, and overexploitation of the environment within and beyond their borders.”

What does Peace Corps have to do with this? Well, back to those at @decolonizingpc who have been actively speaking out and unpacking this issue:

Peace Corps is one iteration of the western model of development because Americanized volunteers are not equipped to identify problems and possible solutions in a community that is not their own. Some volunteers are not just unqualified because they have no experience in the fields in which they volunteer in, but simply because they are not from the community and have a completely different (westernized) worldview.

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I have spent countless hours sitting around circles with fellow volunteers discussing these very points. These complex issues rarely evade the volunteers themselves. Like so many systems, awareness begets change and those who have served in the Peace Corps are perhaps best positioned to call it to account as an institution. With the world coming to a screeching halt due to COVID-19, there is no better time to reimagine, reform, and decolonized the institutions that are no longer serving us as a global community.

 

16 Comments

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  • WOW! Now this is an indictment of the Peace Corps that has never before been on my list of reasons why the Peace Corps always needs to be examining itself to ensure it serves a worthwhile purpose for host countries , the US, volunteers and local peoples. I can not readily see a set of changes that would solve the problems these folks see. Is this the end?

  • I’m sure Ms. Donohue is sincere, but I object to this kind of misguided, cynical theorizing. Nearly one quarter of a million PCVs have contributed their time and effort to meaningful causes, and even if some of them weren’t qualified at the outset of their term of service, they became more than qualified very quickly. It’s disgraceful to attempt to diminish the value of the accomplishments of the PCVs and attack the reputation of the Peace Corps organization.

  • All of that seems to fly in the face of the “but teach someone to fish . . . ” model of helping others. Granted, many programs were built around false premises. One skill set my group was trained to offer small villages in South India in the early 60’s was providing waste water systems for village streets. No village panchayat wanted to touch that and after our first monsoon we understood why.

    Instead we scrounged up a mold for making concrete pipes, built several other molds for making slabs with hand flush latrines and successfully set up what we left as a successful small business with a peon in charge when we exited India two years later. We also introduced hybrid maize adding another way for local farmers to make money. We were helped in that project by a nearby Japanese Demonstration Farm which loaned the machine for stripping kernels from cobs.

    Those ushered in other successful projects.

    A grandson of the first farmer to grow maize visited me here in the U.S. last year with his mother and father. His grandfather had passed on but maize was still a cash crop there and in surrounding villages.

    The peon became a successful businessman.

    I’d be interested to know how what we helped effect could be called anything except useful volunteering. Certainly not racism nor any of the other five reasons promoted above for reforming the Peace Corps. Returned Volunteers who failed to make a difference can make lots of excuses but few in our huge group made excuses. We just got stuff done any way we could and then went home feeling pretty good about the experience.

  • It’s easy to find fault with the Peace Corps. I started doing this as a Brookings scholar in 2003. What is harder is to make the Peace Corps better. I have argued that the biggest obstacle to making it better is its status as a Federal agency. Our country and the world would be better served by “unleashing” the Peace Corps, by reorganizing it as a non-governmental organization (NGO), as other countries have done successfully. More recently, I have suggested that in the post-pandemic world, the Peace Corps concept will only thrive if it morphs into a two-way street: bringing as many volunteers from host countries to serve in the USA as we send to them. What is tragic is how xenophobic the US voting population has become. It is hard to imagine the Congress ever authorizing a two-way flow. A Peace Corps in the NGO sector, depoliticized, could do this. And it could be as big and as valued as the Red Cross.

    • Lex, I apologize for not realizing you are a RPCV India 1967-69. I will look for your essay in World View. Thank you for your comments.

  • Lex, What has been your direct association with the Peace Corps? Updates: I apologize for not realizing that you are a RPCV India. I will look for your essay in World View.

  • This is one of the most arrogant articles I have ever read. The Peace Corps is far from perfect but I am sure it does make an important contribution to international development and has had a positive impact on lives throughout the world. May the Peace Corps improve, thrive and play an even more important role in the years to come.

    Dan Campbell, El Salvador, 1974-1977

  • The indictment that counties like the US and UK can never be helpful in development efforts because of their colonial or enslavement history is as naive and pedantic as it is completely missing the human connection that service engenders between volunteers and many of the people (and young children) in the communities served. Yes, some projects don’t work out as planned (like all ‘startups’ everywhere), but the enthusiasm and empathy exchanged in the field both strengthens people’s sense of worth and their hope for the future—with many long lasting (though not universal) accomplishments. But for America, the presence now of 250,000 citizens who lived modestly among poor communities, struggled with languages and new cultures, and later returned has left the US a much richer country for the insights and open minds that RPCVs bring to their communities in every part of America.

  • I have to say that this essay doesn’t sound at all like something from a volunteer, but rather a rehash of old theories by a grad student doing a term paper. All experiences by volunteers or by host country nationals will not be the same. Some volunteers find the experience a total waste of time, whilst for othes “life-changing”. The second and third goals of the original PC remain “understanding” across national lines, and are as significant today as during the Cold War years. With or without any benefit to anybody’s National Foreign Policy objectives.

    John Turnbull Ghana-3 Geology, and Nyasaland/Malawi-2 Geology Assignment 1963, -64, 65.

  • The theory expressed might be better suited as a discussion point for a graduate class in international development than as actual fact. It is offensive to those who have served without having been knowingly or unknowingly an instrument of neocolonialism.
    Were there asshole administrators who behaved as though they were selling America? Yes! The Peace Corps was only a year old when I served in Peru. I remember that many of us had serious disagreements with regional reps and country directors.because some of them expressed an attitude of superiority. A few of our group returned to the States, their tour unfinished, because they had not found the niche in which they could best serve.They had been brutally honest with themselves. There is nothing shameful about the notion of service to others. The author presumes that the volunteers themselves were duped, that we did not sufficiently reflect on our decision to join or wonder if we had been pawns of imperialist America. .

  • We must acknowledge our country’s history of imperialism and racism, but not use that to call for a withdrawal from the world or abandonment of Peace Corps’ mission to promote world peace and friendship. Peace Corps has three interrelated goals: to help the people of host countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; to help promote a better understanding of Americans by people in the host countries; and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Goals 2 and 3 are more important than ever. We are inter-dependent and therefore cannot solve our global economic, social, environmental and other challenges without greater intercultural communication and understanding.

    I’ve conducted oral history interviews with more than 100 RPCVs and to a person, each has said that Peace Corps’ greatest and most enduring impact has been on broadening perspectives and expanding individual horizons among host country nationals and Americans. Promoting women’s empowerment, children’s education and better environmental stewardship is expanding universal human rights, not neo-colonialism. Rather than challenging the very concept of Peace Corps, we need to diversify and strengthen the Peace Corps.

  • Evelyn, Thank you very much for all your work with the RPCV Oral History Project.
    https://www.peacecorpsoralhistory.org/cpages/home

    I wish there were a way to record the voices of host country nationals about their opinions of Peace Corps. I know that some opinions are “captured” in data surveys with HCN counterparts. But I think this is not adequate. Oral histories with the inteviews which allow people to talk at length would be so important. I do not know if RPCVs would be the best people to do such interviews because HCN might find it difficult to be honest

    Some years ago, there was a professor who was planning on doing an oral history of Peace Corps in Colombia, speaking only with Colombians. However, he was not able to do that project.

    Chiemeka Njoku and Lindsay Allen are both evacuated RPCVs and, I believe, both are women of color. They would be excellent RPCVs for the RPCV Oral History Projects. They are the women involved with the “decolonizing Peace Corps” project.

  • The experience of Peace Volunteers in other countries is as varied as Americans themselves. Some are kind and dedicated and learn the local languages and create a lot of value. Others take it as a paid vacation and don’t do much.

    I never met a volunteer who saw themselves as a tool of any ideology, though many were self aware and asked the question; and most of those whom I knew would recoil at the attributions in Tyler’s article. They preferred to see themselves as independent, contrarian and even iconoclastic.

    I had a long career working in Latin America, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Many of the most effective expatriates in business, government and civil society are ex PCVs. Most of them became effective advocates for “the majority world” back in the United States. I feel connected to each and everyone and I have time to listen to all whom I meet.

    Tyler’s article is useful because she takes a strong position, which forces a righteous discussion. She might’ve been more effective if her tone was more inquiry and less advocacy, If she had the space and the time to substantiate her assertions, and if some of the assertions didn’t overlap. But I am glad she wrote it. It made me think.

    Tyler Anne, Asante kwa kazi yako na masentenzi haya. Ni muhimu sana. Tutazumgumzana siku moja, kwakuendelea mazumgumzo haya.

    Rafiki yako,

    Michael Fairbanks, chief executive, Akagera Medicines, Kigali, Rwanda

    PCV village teacher
    Kisii, Kenya ‘79-‘81

  • I think this should be the beginning of a vigorous discussion. You know these opinions are from RPCVs.

    We all tend to speak from our perspective as Vo;inteers. The voice and opinions of those with whom we worked is absolutely missing from our history.

    I call it the real sound of one hand clapping.

  • Below is something I have been working on for quite a while but have never submitted here because I have never seen this forum as site for sustained, open discussions before.

    Below is a section of a series of “idea exchangers” called, Mission One. As the title implies, it does not give a health toot about Peace Corps goals Two or Three. It is all about Mission One … How can we do a better job of making an enduring change in the lives of the poorest or the poor?

    Mission One is not without its biases, but does not take a stand on the the overall bad or good about the Peace Corps. I do strongly agree with the fact that the Peace Corps needs to make significant changes if it is to merit its continuation. On the other hand if it pays serious attention to Goal One, it be a more effective way of fostering the other two goals.

    If Mission One, which will available to anyone, Peace Corps or Not, does not serve a purpose in this forum, it will be manifested by your profound silence. If it draws a favorable response, I will post all issues of Mission One here.

    Warning: Any writer who elects to use this forum as a platform for Goals Two or Three issues will be shamed.

    Finally, my purpose in writing is to lay the stepping stones for a feasible goal of extending the concept of the
    extended family, which should will enhance Goals Two and Three in an action form.

    Kevin Denny

    Mission One

    An Idea Exchange Published by TEFF

    Issue 1. April 22, 2022

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    A Forest of Silos

    Mission One is all about the diffusion of ideas, or put differently, the question of why we do such a lousy job of learning from each other.

    Across the globe there are endless examples of projects, big and small, designed to introduce change into the lives of children and their communities. First, the good news! Thirty years ago, statistics inform us that 25 out of every 100 children born into a cruelly disadvantaged village in Africa** would die before they reached their fifth birthday; now the figure is less than 10% … something is working!

    **While we talk of Africa for convenience’s sake, several of us involved in the planning of this initiative have lived and worked in Afghanistan. As such, we are highly aware of the needs, past and even more now, the present. Therefore, we ask readers to appreciate that when we address the problems in Africa, we are at all times including those faced by the people of Afghanistan.

    The question is how do we learn what works and does not work? That is the challenge of Mission One.

    The goal of Mission One is to provide the knowledge, support and concepts that will result in the greatest benefit to a
    child born into an African village by fostering grassroots, community initiatives, supported by a redefining of the
    The Extended Family

    Africa is littered with the sun-bleached skeletons of well intentioned development projects.

    This is the mantra heard across the continent of Africa. Many of us have seen it for ourselves. What is more difficult to encounter are examples of successful projects that provide insight as to why they were successful. or why the fail. What can we learn from successes?

    Tolstoy may be a good place to start. The author, one of the first novelist to apply fiction to the process of understanding human behavior, opens his masterpiece, Anna Karenina, with: All happy families are happy in the same way; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

    Lesson: There is little to be learned from individual failure.

    Mission One’s objective is to identify innovative community-based programs that have been successful in improving for the physical, educational, and psychological needs of children and to delineate the factors elemental to their success. From this we will identify the “lessons learned” … the key prerequisites to success. These elemental lessons will drive the question: Can success be replicated?

    Africa Bridge (Not a Peace Corps Project … But something the Peace Corps suffers badly from never doing.)

    1. Africa Bridge is a program that been serving the needs of seven villages in Tanzania for the last twenty-five years. Begun by Barry Childs, who spent much of his youth living in East Africa, Bridge began with the question: Will programs with a goal to improve the economic status and leadership qualities of an entire community lead to a measurable improvement in not only the wellbeing of the village, but specifically to the health and future dreams of children born into the village?

    Development projects in Africa, and elsewhere, frequently do not begin with a clear statement of their specific goal or a plan for the criteria by which they will evaluate their outcomes. Many do not even outcome measurements as being important to continuation.
    Therefore, it is extremely rare for programs to have long term evaluation of their results. Africa Bridge is unusual in that after thirty years of services, they contracted with an outside evaluation team to design and implement an evaluation of the program’s impact on the villages they served and the wellbeing of their children This evaluation was completed in November 2021 and its finding were:

    Africa Bridge interventions have improved results for the vast majority of measured indicators over baseline:
    • Extreme poverty reduced from 74% to 46%
    • Food shortages dropped from 95% to 33%.
    • Household assets increased from 456 items to 849 items.
    • Home construction improved. The number using cement bricks rose from 4 to 85.
    • Home lighting increased from 7% to 45% – a factor in a child’s ability to study.
    • Livestock ownership increased 300%.

    The study found that beneficiaries reinvested their money in a variety of enterprises. suggesting that the Africa Bridge approach encourages a mindset entrepreneurialism and growth. (See Bridge Africa Website)
    Contact Information: Barry@africabridge.org

    CorpsAfrica
    2. Liz Fanning, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, asked herself the question: If her experience enriched her life in so many ways, what would it be like to offer the same opportunities to educated youth in their own countries? From this question, CorpsAfrica was born. Today it has trained over 400 community volunteers Malawi, Senegal, Morocco and Rwanda to be change agents in resource poor communities in their own nations. Most recently CorpsAfrica volunteers have played a key role in educating rural communities about the steps needed to mitigate the effects of Covid-19.

    Founded in 2011, CorpsAfrica recruits men and women to move to high-poverty communities within their own countries for a year, after successfully completing four weeks of training built around experiential learning to empower and equip Volunteers with the skills and mindsets, they will need to be successful at their sites. Volunteers gain the community’s trust and understanding by engaging people in conversations and facilitating community meetings to identify and address changing and complex local needs in education, health, small business development, urban planning and infrastructure, agriculture, the environment, and more. They then initiate and facilitate projects that fulfil these key needs in their communities and whose impact and success can be carefully measured and monitored. In 2019 Liz received the prestigious Sargent Shriver Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award, presented to a single former Peace Corps Volunteer each year.

    Recently CorpsAfrica announced that that had received a multi-year award of 17 million Dollars for its program operations and expansion. In 2022 CorpsAfrica will add Kenya and Ghana to its list of countries served.

    Village Orphan Care-Africa
    3. Orphan Support Africa was started by several former Malawi PCV who were aware of the plight of children who had lost their parents to AIDs. Typically, these children were being raised by grandparents to who had lost their own children to the pandemic. Many grandparents took on the responsibility of caring for as many as 6-9 grandchildren. OSA’s approach to meeting the needs of orphans was to support village committees to develop income generating projects … maize mills, irrigation projects and the sale of vegetables to support vulnerable children and provide them the means to attend school. This program was initially supported by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation in with a grant of two million dollars). Unfortunately, at the end of the second year, the Gates Foundation informed OSA that that had altered their funding criteria and would not continue their support.
    Their organization, now named Village Orphan Care-Africa (VOCA), operates on the belief that Malawians are much better suited to create, own and manage projects in their own communities that outsiders. VOCA’s director, Garry Prime explains that “While our Peace Corps experience afforded us the opportunity to understand the Malawian culture more thoroughly than most, ours was but a short window into the total picture. History shows that projects come and go …. and when they go, they are gone for good. As a consequence of a funder’s departure, all the good work done is at risk of being lost … a tragic outcome!”

    Based upon the successful income-generating enterprises which benefit orphans in their villages, VOCA efforts continue, in spite of the obstacles created by COVID-19 in both countries.

    In the true spirit of the Peace Corps, Michael, Garry and Tereza Prime, seeing value of their projects to orphans and their communities, have made a decision to self-fund their ongoing work.

    Country of Service Affiliates
    4. Soon after the first PCVs returned from the countries where they had served, they continued friendships they had made while serving two years in their assigned countries. At first these groupings were informal, but soon the number of RPCVs grew and metastasized into groups across the country. Many understood the benefits of formalising their informal organization. Today, for almost every country where the Peace Corps has been, there is a “Friends Of” group. These groups are maintained by a team of select officers and produce their own newsletters. The exchange of information is purposeful and allows the groups to identify projects to support in their country of service.

    These groups are the heart of the Peace Corps Legacy. By the nature of the reason for their formation — support of a specific country — there need be very little opportunity for interaction. This is completely understandable. If an individual would strive to get a comprehensive overview of “Friends Of” network, it would require reading a vast collection of newsletters. Given the history and organization structuring of these groups, the diffusion of information truncated.
    Mission One sees itself a conduit for the exchange of information and ideas among and between country of service affiliates (COSA).

    Many of us stand to be surprised by the breadth of COSA activities. One example The Friends of Afghanistan, which continues to support a Rotary Club in Jalalabad with medical equipment need for their medical outreach program. This group also actively lobbies for greater support of Afghan who have worked side by side with American. And importantly the are playing an active role in supporting those Afghans arriving in America who have had to flee their home. Another example, which will be discussed below, is the Malawi Children’s Village which will be discussed below.

    Academic Alliances

    5. When we hear the word innovation, we usually think of new ways to solve old problems. However, there is another important aspect introducing change … the re-discovery of old solutions that work.

    In 1964 the government of then Nyasaland requested that the fourth group of volunteers to their soon-to-be independent country address the issue of tuberculosis, which had become rampant in their villages. One pictures the chaos in the halls of Peace Corps, “What the hell do we know about tuberculosis?” Fortunately, there were others who knew a great deal about the disease. A dialogue was started with the Department of Epidemiology, at the University of North Carolina, School of Public Health. The result was the UNC entered a contract to train, supervise and support a Malawi IV team of forty PCVs which would meet Malawi’s need.

    The first six weeks of Malawi IV’s training which included language training, cultural understanding and the goals of the Peace Corps took place at Harvard. This was followed by a move to the UNC, School of Public Health for technical training. The training team consisted of on prominent leader in epidemiology, an infectious disease physician with a expertise in tuberculosis, an medical anthropologist, a health education and several laboratory science instructors. But their involvement with the team did not end at the completion of training. The contract called for the UNC to provide field supervision, data assessment and a determination of the effectiveness of a domiciliary program to diagnosis and treat T.B. The infectious disease physician was stationed full time in Malawi and supervised the PCVs and acted as a public consultant to the Ministry of Health. The entire UNC teaching staff traveled to Malawi twice to support the team and to monitor the collection of data required to verify of project outcomes.

    After two years the team was able to document the effectiveness and feasibility of a domiciliary tuberculosis program. However, the findings of the study may not have been the most important result of the Malawi IV project. The recruitment and training of 40 generalist produced five physicians, seven Masters in Public Health, two medical anthropologists, one hospital administrator, a dentist, three social workers, three laboratory technicians and one nurse.

    One issue currently facing the Peace Corps is that volunteers perceive that their experience in the Peace Corps does not provide them with the tools needed for them to enter into today’s labor market. Strengthening links with academic institutions may help address this issue, while improving the quality of in-country programs.

    Clearly, the cost of academic supported Peace Corps programs is a consideration, but a cost benefit analysis, based upon a broad range of variables, may demonstrate its value.

    Corporate Partnerships
    6. In 1998 the Rotary Club of Seneca Falls, New York committed to support irrigation projects in Malawi. To initiate village level irrigation projects Rotarians drew upon the knowledge and support of Gould Pump, one of the largest manufacturers of pumps in the world, which happened to be located in their hometown. Not only did Gould provide technical support it also donated a number of petrol pumps for village irrigation projects.

    In addition, a retiring financial officer from Gould, David Markle, took a personal interest in helping Malawi. This resulted in he and his wife making annual trips there to establish village irrigation schemes. Once there, they encountered a young orphan, Dyson Mgambo, who was helping villages start irrigation projects. This alliance between a corporation and a committed young Malawian has led to over fifty communities with water all year … a buffer against the frequent droughts. For Dyson, it has led to him to being able obtain a college degree in Land Management and Natural Resources Management.

    Every year the Rotary Club of Seneca Falls hosts a wine and jazz festival (Usually on the rainiest day imaginable) to raise funds to support Dyson’s work in Malawi. This is just one example of the commitment of Rotary Clubs to serve not only their own communities, but those in need around the world.

    Why are more corporations not involved in the process of supporting those in the greatest need around the world? Perhaps, the answer be as simple that no one has asked them.

    Gritty Individuals
    7. Some of the most notable successes may be the most difficult to discover. These are the initiatives of the gritty individual, who sees a need and simply attacks it. Because they do it almost stealthily, they seldom are noticed. Here is the story of one of these gritty individuals.

    Nettie Graulich first visited Malawi in 2006 with her husband Robert, who had been in one of the first Peace Corps groups to arrive in Malawi. Nettie is an established fashion designer who taught the subject at the college level. She had an immediate image of what she could do. Quietly, with resolve, she planned to return on her summer hiatus with the goal of teaching Malawians to tailor and design garments as a way of bringing economic stability to their families.

    Since her first visit, “Auntie” Nettie has returned for two months every summer (up until the arrival of Covid-19). She is eager to return to continue her work which includes teaching her students to design and sew fashionable clothes for the local tourist market. In addition, her enterprise has become the place for schools and factory owners to obtain uniforms. Her students have also designed a collection of purses, hats, aprons and shirts which the local hotels on the lakeshore display and sell. As result of their success, at the end of their training period each graduate is given a sewing machine for their home as a way to earn an income for their family. At the end of their training, each graduate receives their own sewing machine to take home, supported by donations from Netties very many friends.

    You may have never heard about Nettie, but there are many gritty individuals like her making a difference where it matters. You may know some yourselves. We need your help to identify programs that should be added to our list.

    The Malawi Children’s Village
    8. The Malawi Children’s Village was founded in 1991 by Malawi RPCVs in order to meet the overwhelming needs of children who had lost their parents to AIDS. MCV is a community-based program which every year provides for the physical, education and psychological needs of over 2000 orphans living in thirty-seven villages in the Mangochi District. In the last thirty-one years over 1,650 members of the Peace Corps Family have contributed over 7.5 million dollars to assure the survival and wellbeing of over 45,000 vulnerable children ages 0-18

    For more detailed information and a summary of “lessons learned”, see Malawi Children’s Village Website.

    Issue One of Mission One continues with a description of the challenges that Africa’s subsistence farmers will face within ten years due to climate change and high rates of population growth.

    With thanks to John and Marian for their dogged diligence in maintaining this formun,

  • As a youngster, I was a Cub Scout. Like the Peace Corps, it was never meant to be a life-long commitment. The above article and the comments are all interesting but the anger seems misplaced. What are the authors really mad about?

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