With a Little Help From Our Friends!

From its first days the Peace Corps knew that it needed help from international organizations to get the agency off the ground. And it received tremendous help from private groups in the way of contacts, experience and support in planning, recruiting, selection, training and overseas project administration.

In June of 1961, there were only two projects administered for the Peace Corps by private agencies, CARE in Colombia, and Heifer Project, Inc., on the island of St. Lucia in the West Indies. Within another year there were 17 projects administered by private organizations under contracts with the Peace Corps. Also 30 % of Volunteers were working with other organizations–national and international.  PCVs were in addition getting administration help from 13 colleges and universities in 16 programs in 13 countries. Besides that, some PCVs got help from past association with a university in a particular county. For example, the University of Kansas and Costa Rica, and in Ethiopia, where I was. I was a PCVs in Ethiopia and the University of Utah, had a huge AID project in-country, including running an agriculture college where, in 1965, we ran an in-country Training Program for the famous UCLA’S ATPS, the short lived training program that UCLA that trained PCVs for two summers, plus in-country.

Working with U.S. government agencies, about 125 PCVs were serving overseas under the direction of AID  and the Food and Agriculture Organization in Pakistan and Tunisia, and Colombia and Brazil.

In the early years also there was help and money coming from public and private foundations. CARE gave the Peace Corps $200,000 in the first two years; Heifer gave $90,000 in livestock. The Asia Foundation gave books; the American Society of Peru sent money to construct two buildings in Lima and Arequipa. UNICEF and FAO donated fishing gear, microscopes and jeeps.

And since coming home, RPCVs have had not abandoned their host countries. They have continued, in an amazing and basically unreported way, under the radar so to speak, helped their host country. PCVs have, for example, returned to their country as Crisis Corps Volunteers (now misnamed Respond PCVs), and also have  sponsored former students with scholarships, built schools, medical centers, and libraries, and worked in-country again as Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

The Peace Corps was established with Three Goal, and they are (since few people on the Peace Corps staff or the State Department can remember):

1) It can contribute to the development of critical countries and regions.

2) It can promote international cooperation and good will toward the country.

3) It can also contribute to the education of America and to more intelligent Americans participation in the world.

While some staff members at the Peace Corps agency do involve themselves with the Third Goal, the agency, in terms of policy, has historically not turned and given resources, i.e. money, to further the Third Goal. Yes, they have sponsored a few programs with the NPCA. But for the most part, RPCVs have done it on their own, as individuals or through their Country of Service Groups. It started with the early work done by RPCVS LIKE Maureen Carroll (Philippines 1961-63) with her group who sponsored scholarship program; Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) and her schools at her former site. It is being carried out today by dozens and dozens of other RPCVs in other host countries.

And all of these efforts will continue, regardless of what the Peace Corps does or doesn’t do! The RPCVs, at lease, are fulfilling the Third Goal!

Next: The ‘back story’ about Camp Crozier and Camp Radley.

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