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  • My parents sent me a Care package in 1964. I shared it with other volunteers. The Dial soap was especially appreciated for its antibacterial effects. Two female volunteers were happy to get a reminder of home-a box of hominy grits.
    Although not a Care package, volunteers who visited Asmara, (then) Ethiopia and befriended American soldiers stationed at Kagnew military base, brought back American toilet paper. A big deal if you ever used Bulgarian or Russian equivalents.

    • I just found a letter I had written to my mother on the morning of November 22, 1963. Our trunks had just arrived and included a baby doll for our health “charlas. It was the last letter I wrote for many months which was full of our sense of delight and adventure.

      I also thanked my Mom for the 53 bars of Dial soap she had sent, as recommended by Peace Corps.
      What was not known then, was Dial used hexochloriphine because of its antibacterial effects. Unfortunately, hexochloriphine was found to have unanticipated and bad side effects. It was removed from OTC products in 1972. It also evidently had a photosensitizing property, at least that’s what my dermatologist said.

  • This brings back memories of something else — the immensely valuable and popular PCV library and textbook programs, throughout schools in Africa. Something that, at the cartoon suggests, allowed a wonderful opportunity for folks back home, church groups, schools, Kiwanis, scout troops, to be involved with their serving PCV teachers. It’s the way things were back in the early PC days; These library and textbook projects were a mainstay of the early African PC efforts.

    They depended on affordable bulk surface shipping, however in late 2009 the Post Office abolished that, effectively ending everything. A major effort was launched by RPCVs to get the affordable surface shipping reinstated. Even suggesting that the MATS (Military Air Transport System) might help out. Even the Postal Workers’ Union joined the effort. It wasn’t to be. So ended a mainstay program of the PC. Some larger-scale RPCV programs continued PC book shipments at considerable cost, and of course, small “care packages” to serving volunteers continued.

    In a remarkable expression of insensitivity, the Peace Corps Agency, announced that nothing was going to come from their annual budget to fix the problem. I remember wondering if it had even occurred to them to simply ask the Congress for a supplemental appropriation.

    I remember, in late 2009 I met with Stewart Udall, then the last surviving member of the JFK Cabinet (Sec of interior), asking what HE thought we might do. Always a friend of the Peace Corps, Stewart appeared almost disillusioned, learning that this had happened, and mentioned that probably only $1million per year could have kept everything (and more, like shipments of hospital and medical equipment) happening. He said he would make some calls and see what could be done. it was one of the last things the grand old man would work on. He died a few months later, March 2010, at his home in Santa Fe. As always, his heart was in the right place.

    That was a decade ago. I don’t know what is happening today. John Turnbull Ghana-3 Geology and Nyasaland/Malawi-2 Geology Assignment.

  • Well, there are always the corporations who produce what PCV’s might use…

    In 1967, when I was the country director for PC/Afghanistan, one of our doctor volunteers,

    Joe Mamlin M.D. suggested that I stop in Indianapolis my next trip to Selection Boards in the U.S.

    He gave me the name of someone at Eli Lilly whom I should ask for “expired” vaccines and

    other pharmaceuticals. He said that expiration dates were SO conservative that the potency lasted

    well beyond to nominal date/ I did what Joe told me and subsequently we would receive pallets of the stuff!

    It was a godsend in a country that as quite unable to afford normal purchases.

    Walter P. Blass

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