A Voice From The Field

I don’t know who this PCV “dilana” is, but as far as I can tell, it is our first comment from a current PCV, and it is a wonderful one. It is an example of what Marian and I hope to achieve with this website and that is to get comments and opinions and information from all over the globe, and from all parts of the Peace Corps World. So, if you missed ”dilana” comment sent on the 21st of this month, here it is in full.

dilana on 21/03/2009 in 19:50

Honestly what I am disappointed about at this point is the fact that so many people actually think three months should be enough time apparently to bring the country out of debt, find money from somewhere to use to bring more volunteers to various countries, enlist new countries for Peace Corps, stop the war, increase the budget for PC and everything else, and a whole lot of other things. I am a current Peace Corps volunteer right now IN THE FIELD and to be honest there is so much going on right now in the developing world and at home that I think that its ok if our President AND government need to take a year or two before they can get to increasing the number of volunteers in the field. We barely have enough money to function since Bush just cut the budget and food prices are rising and volunteers are barely making it. It seems as if everyone expects the president to perform a couple miracles which include the home base concerns of unemployment, home ownership, income, the economy, the education system, bringing our soldiers home, and the list goes on. While I know Peace Corps volunteers make significant impact in the countries they serve we are usually not sent to (in this era) countries at war or those that even are too unstable so I dont see how we will be helping certain countries in the middle east when we have these regulations. I’m very upset about the budget cuts but if you come into a job and someone has emptied the bank account you cant make money appear to make all your changes happen. In case no one sent the bulletin to the American people WE ARE BROKE as a country and we need to dig ourselves out of debt. What that means is that any change that is made means a cut somewhere or everywhere which means someone is always going to be unhappy until we can get back on our feet with a decent budget to handle all of our needs. Until then everyone is going to have to grit and bear because the wound of debt needs to heal before we can start increasing budgets and functioning adequately. I have also learned that 2 years is hardly enough time for me to really turn over a high yielding product with my projects, usually it takes at least 2 follow up volunteers before a project is sustainably successful. If thats how it is for us on a grassroots small initiative level what can 3 months really be for a nation trying to turn things around nationally AND internationally? Problems will have to be attacked in an orderly and strategic basis and I have already seen a lot of initiatives that were promised in action. Actually I just applied for a grant for my community from USAID whom just sent out applications for funding for development projects thanks to the new mandate for more international aid funds. Good and sustainable progress takes time not frenzy disorganized demands, we got enough of those with the Bush administration. I dont even have a T.V. but I traveled 5 hours and heard a speech where President Obama said ‘I will do my best to fulfill all my promises during my campaign, we may not get it done this year, or even in this term, but we will get it done’. The fact of the matter is to dig us out of 8 years of mess (or more for Peace Corpst) it might take 8 more years of hard work. If you dont learn anything else in Peace Corps you learn patience and you learn that things dont happen as fast as you want them to or even how you want them to but you know that it can be done. Maybe because I have stepped out of the microwave world of the U.S. for so long I forget how quickly everyone expects things at home. I hope President Obama takes his time to look closely at the Peace Corps budget and is able to give Peace Corps the budget increases it so desprately needs to function well with the number of volunteers currently in the field. THEN I think it would be a great idea to look into additional countries, an increase in volunteers worldwide, and other advances but I understand that all of that may take a back seat to the fact that job fairs have a turn out of over 2,000 people for a mere 200 jobs or that more people in the world (and my own pueblo) are starving because basic food like rice has gone up dramatically; and this might take more than 3 months or even 2 years to get a handle on.

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  • The president is another president like the other presidents before him. He has no federal service experience other than Congress. He wants to double PC like Clinton and Bush before him. PC usually doubles its budget and the staff pay and numbers increase, while the PCVs maybe go up 20% over five years.

    I like the sustainable project numbers. Maybe we shouldn’t limit them to two years, but five like the staff and budgets.

    PCVs aren’t sent to post conflict countries because they don’t want dead volunteers. If you compare the risks to 15 years ago, they’ve doubled by staying in coup countries. There is no point working in post conflict and failing countries as there is nothing sustainable. Afghanistan is an example of this failed policy. NATO troops are shooting instead of building.

    The PC could double it’s numbers in three months with the UN program. It could also open to 2 year degrees with a UN PC study program.

    A new president isn’t the answer to problems that PC can’t blame him for; PC needs to have a plan to double its numbers because studies show the budget does and the PCs don’t. The Food Security issue was one of the reasons the economy died, while the PEPFAR program is hiring PCs and the goal is 1000s, the food security legislation is not going to have that type of program hiring PCs, so PC will have to look elsewhere for funds and programs hiring PCs.

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