Peace Corps Community for Refugees recognized for its work with refugees from Afghanistan see more
What began as an effort by five people to support refugees has grown to a network of 1,200 individuals. And they have led the way in the Peace Corps community in working with refugees during the current Afghanistan crisis.
By NPCA Staff
Peace Corps Community for Refugees is this year’s recipient of the Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service. This year’s award recognizes PCC4R for its outstanding advocacy for refugees during the current Afghanistan crisis, as well as its continued resettlement work in Greece and Mexico and its efforts to educate the public on refugee support.
An affiliate group of National Peace Corps Association, Peace Corps Community for Refugees began with five initial members in 2016. It has grown to a network of more than 1,200 members in the Peace Corps community.
They work in three main areas. Through education, they seek to inform others about issues pertaining to refugees through stories and educational resources. Through resettlement support, they connect interested volunteers with NGOs serving refugee communities. Through advocacy, they work on behalf of refugees at the national, state, and local level.
This year’s award was presented on September 23 at Peace Corps Connect, a 60th anniversary conference for the Peace Corps Community. The award was announced by film and television writer Katherine Ruppe, the daughter of Loret Miller Ruppe.
The award was accepted on behalf of Peace Corps Community for Refugees by Barbara Busch, team leader for overseas action for Peace Corps Community for Refugees. As she noted, this year's work has involved important collaboration with NPCA affiliate group Friends of Afghanistan, which has provided leadership in joint advocacy for SIV Afghan evacuation and planning for resettlement support. Barbara Busch reminded audience members that the work in front of them is growing: advocating for Afghans still left behind; the crisis at the border for Haitian asylum seekers; and the looming crisis of climate migrants.
Support Refugees today at pcc4refugees.org
About the Loret Miller Ruppe Award
Named for the 10th Director of the Peace Corps, the annual Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service is presented by NPCA to outstanding affiliate groups for projects that promote the Third Goal of Peace Corps or continue to serve host countries, build group spirit and cooperation, and promote service. Eligible projects include those completed within the past two years or ongoing for at least three years. The purpose of the award is to recognize the great work that NPCA’s groups are doing and to generate ideas that other groups may emulate in their communities.
September 23–25, we gather to honor six decades of service & impact. Right now crises need our help. see more
This September, we gather to honor six decades of Peace Corps service in communities around the world. Right now, we need to honor Peace Corps ideals by helping in humanitarian crises.
By Glenn Blumhorst
Photo: A girl from Afghanistan at a UN High Commissioner for Refugees camp in 2002. Photo by Caleb Kenna
As this edition of WorldView magazine was wrapping up in August, we marked World Humanitarian Day — an occasion to advocate for the survival, well-being, and dignity of people affected by crises. A devastating earthquake hit Haiti; thousands were killed and injured. In Afghanistan, after the Taliban’s lightning offensive, the capital of Kabul fell. A chaotic U.S. exit and the collapse of the Afghan military created a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions — and fears about retribution and the horrific treatment of women and girls.
Many of us in the Peace Corps community have deep personal ties to these countries. Volunteers have served in both, in years past. Returned Volunteers, including myself, have worked on development projects in Haiti and Afghanistan. Haitian Americans and Afghan Americans have served as Peace Corps Volunteers. Our first response in moments like this is to ask: What can we do now? How can we provide hands-on help? Where should we raise our voices?
Helping in Haiti
The people of Haiti were already suffering from the pandemic, food insecurity, and political turmoil. We have been in contact with a number of organizations providing help on the ground, such as Partners in Health. At bit.ly/npca-help-refugees we are posting updates on any formal partnerships that come together for the Peace Corps community. A number of RPCVs who served in Haiti and elsewhere have been in touch with offers to help. And we would encourage others to contact us as we seek to strengthen the organizational capacity of our Friends of Haiti affiliate group at this critical time.
Supporting refugees in Afghanistan — and in the U.S.
The Peace Corps Community for Refugees, in partnership with Friends of Afghanistan — both affiliate groups of National Peace Corps Association — is coordinating efforts in the Peace Corps community to support refugees from Afghanistan who are being resettled in some 30 cities across the United States. PCC4Refugees is mobilizing RPCVs to assist local resettlement agencies and ensure the many individuals and their families who put their lives at risk by supporting U.S. efforts in Afghanistan are received with welcome, safe transportation, access to housing, and other necessities.
A girl from Afghanistan at a UN High Commissioner for Refugees camp in 2002, not long after the Taliban were removed from power. Now that they have returned, what will happen to women and girls? Photo by Caleb Kenna
Don Drach serves as a board member with PCC4Refugees; he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia 1971–73. As Don points out, since 2002, Afghan families have risked their lives to assist the U.S. military, diplomats, and other government employees, by serving as translators, interpreters, and more. Yet, as he and others have noted, “As the U.S. armed forces rapidly withdrew from Afghanistan, thousands of Afghan allies and their families are being targeted and suffering retaliatory attacks from the Taliban for their affiliation with the U.S.”
By most estimates, more than 70,000 lives are at stake. Only a fraction of those individuals were able to obtain permission to travel to the U.S. under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which provides a legal pathway to safety for individuals who worked with U.S. personnel. The U.S. needs to follow through on its commitment to all those who helped. But even coming to the U.S. on an SIV is not the end of the journey for those who make it. That is where the Peace Corps community can absolutely step in — with helping refugees resettle and adjust to life in the U.S.
“We stand ready to work with our partner refugee resettlement agencies to place these refugees in homes across America,” says Terry Dougherty, part of the leadership of Friends of Afghanistan. “Because that’s what we do as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.”
“We stand ready to work with our partner refugee resettlement agencies to place these refugees in homes across America,” says Terry Dougherty, part of the leadership of Friends of Afghanistan. “Because that’s what we do as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.” For Dougherty, this is a profoundly personal connection; he served as a Volunteer in Afghanistan 1972–75, teaching in a provincial school and at Kabul Higher Teacher’s College. And after 2004, he began hosting high school students from Afghanistan and working with refugees.
At bit.ly/npca-help-refugees you’ll find contact information for Local Liaison Coordinator Anneke Valk and updates on where help is needed most. Also find out more and get involved at pcc4refugees.org.
Work of a lifetime
From September 23 to 25 we host Peace Corps Connect 2021, our 60th anniversary virtual conference. “Mobilizing for a Lifetime of Service and Impact” is the theme. And it couldn’t be more fitting. This is a moment when we need to act on these values that sustain us. We’ll tackle some of the most pressing issues we face, from climate change, migration, and refugees to equity, diversity, and inclusion — and the safety and security of Volunteers as they return to the field.
As the tragedies of recent weeks have underscored, the mission of building peace and friendship, and people with a lifetime commitment to Peace Corps ideals — these are things the world desperately needs.
Glenn Blumhorst is the President and CEO of National Peace Corps Association. He welcomes your comments: email@example.com
Right Now, We Need to Honor Peace Corps Ideals by Helping in Humanitarian Crises in Afghanistan and HaitiWe need to honor Peace Corps ideals by helping in humanitarian crises. see more
Here is what we’re doing to bolster efforts by the Peace Corps community.
By Glenn Blumhorst
It should strike us with no small significance that today, August 19, is World Humanitarian Day — a day to advocate for the survival, well-being, and dignity of people affected by crises. In just the past week, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti; thousands have been killed and injured. In Afghanistan, on Sunday the capital of Kabul fell to the Taliban. A chaotic U.S. exit and collapse of the Afghan military has created a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions — and fears of retribution and horrific treatment of women and girls under a new regime.
Many of us in the Peace Corps community have deep personal ties to these countries. Volunteers served in both in years past. Many RPCVs, including myself, have worked on development projects in Haiti and Afghanistan. Our first response in moments like this is to ask: What can we do now? How can we provide hands-on help? And where should we raise our voices?
Helping in Haiti
The people of Haiti were already suffering from the pandemic, food insecurity, and political turmoil after the assassination of the president. We are in contact with a number of organizations providing help on the ground, such as Partners in Health, and will keep you updated on any formal partnerships that come together for the Peace Corps community. RPCVs who served in Haiti are encouraged to contact us as we seek to strengthen the organizational capacity of our Friends of Haiti affiliate group.
Helping Refugees from Afghanistan
The Peace Corps Community for Refugees (PCC4Refugees), in partnership with Friends of Afghanistan — both affiliate groups of National Peace Corps Association — is coordinating efforts in the Peace Corps community to support refugees from Afghanistan being resettled across the United States. PCC4Refugees is mobilizing RPCVs to assist local resettlement agencies and ensure our allies are received with welcome, safe transportation, access to housing, and other necessities. PCC4Refugees can connect you with opportunities in the 30 U.S. cities designated as resettlement locations. Contact Local Liaison Coordinator Anneke Valk. Read more here, and visit pcc4refugees.org to get involved.
Since 2002, Afghan families have risked their lives to assist the U.S. military, diplomats, and other government employees, serving as translators, interpreters, cultural liaisons, and more. However, as the U.S. armed forces rapidly withdraw from Afghanistan, thousands of Afghan allies and their families are being targeted and suffering retaliatory attacks from the Taliban for their affiliation with the U.S.
In response to the continuing violence towards Afghan allies, the Biden Administration is expected to evacuate 2,500 individuals to the U.S. before September 11, 2021, through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program which provides a legal pathway to safety for individuals who worked with U.S. forces and personnel. These Afghan Allies/SIVs have begun arriving at Fort Lee, Virginia and will continue to be relocated to 30 different cities across the U.S. over the next six weeks.
The cities are:
Albany, Atlanta, Austin, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, D.C. Metro Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Durham, Elizabeth, Fort Worth, Houston, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Louisville, Modesto, Oakland, Omaha, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Raleigh, Rochester, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa.
Story updated August 19, 2021, at 7:00 PM.
Glenn Blumhorst is President and CEO of National Peace Corps Association.
National Peace Corps Association Operations posted an articleBringing the Private Sector and the Peace Corps Community Together see more
NPCA, in partnership with Northeastern University's Cultural Agility Leadership Lab (CALL), has created new opportunities for returned Peace Corps volunteers, while bringing private sector expertise to strengthen the capacity of local humanitarian development organizations in Thailand and other countries. The partnership matches RPCVs with skills-based corporate volunteers from Cigna, a global health service company, to deliver technical assistance to local NGOs, while also enhancing the cultural agility of the corporate volunteers.
For the past three years, Cigna has sent its rising leaders to Indonesia and Thailand through CALL to learn from and understand more on the health care needs of the Indonesian and Thai people. Cigna and CALL interact with health care at many levels including the villages, government, and private hospitals, as well as healthcare NGOs throughout the country. This year, the ITLP program worked in Chiang Mai with various NGOs under the umbrella of the Raks Thai Foundation, focusing on health populations including HIV/AIDS, drug-user groups, refugee and migratory groups, and youth development groups.
Joel Saldana (RPCV Thailand 2012-2014), a second year RPCV participant in the program, shared his thoughts. "It's been a great opportunity to work with Americans from the corporate world who are trying to learn about Thai people. It's most fulfilling to have the 'aha' moments when you have that meaningful exchange through food, smiles, or a simple greeting," Joel is one of three RPCVs who accompanied nine Cigna skills-based volunteers on their short-term assignments in Thailand. RPCVs serve as cultural coaches and also provide technical guidance and support to the work undertaken.
Joel observed that "Cigna is putting their money where their commitments are—in developing a workforce that is ready to take on global challenges, is culturally agile, and is attempting to understand a little part of the world." Cigna participants work with their assigned NGOs to help scale their success in program management, operations, or project solutions. In a very short time frame, they learn how to work with Thai people, understand the organizations needs, and assist with their challenges.
NPCA envisions expanding the program to eventually field over 100 corporate volunteers in multiple countries, particularly linking them to NGOs where PCVs or RPCVs are involved. Forthcoming projects will field RPCVs and corporate volunteers from Johnson & Johnson on short-term assignments in Peru, Mexico and Guatemala.
For more information, please contact our International Programs division: CALLCoordinator@PeaceCorpsConnect.org.
Alan Ruiz Terol posted an articleThe Cincinnati Area Returned Volunteers are supporting six refugees. see more
By Alan Ruiz Terol
A journey ended when Bana, Adnan and their four children arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio. They had fled war in their home country, Syria, and were granted asylum by the U.S. government. Now they faced a new challenge; how to start a new life in a new country?
The Cincinnati Area Returned Volunteers (CARV) have been mentoring the family since mid-September. The foremost priority was to find a job for Adnan, the father. He is a shoemaker and also has sewing skills—and yet, he was willing to do any work that did not require English. Thanks to great networking, CARV was able to find him a position in his chosen field.
“We help them achieve self-sufficiency,” says Susan Robinson, a member of the group. “We know how important it is for people to do things for themselves.”
CARV members have been visiting the family weekly to tutor the children and help the mom with English. They found several Arabic speakers to help with the translation and have taken the family members to multiple doctor appointments. They have also shared outings to the park and enjoyed pumpkin carving for Halloween. Recently, six CARV members and their family and friends invited Bana and Adnan's family for their first Thanksgiving dinner in America.
Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio is the volunteer agency responsible for refugee resettlement in the area. They provide housing, medical screening, English and employment lessons and case management. CARV members have been helping them for the past year. Eventually, the agency gave CARV a greater responsibility and asked them to mentor a Syrian family. “They were aware that we had a strong RPCV group and that we would be able to work as a team,” Robinson says.
The CARV group serves as an example of how RPCVs can help refugees integrate to American society. According to Robinson, there are many ways people can help refugees. “I would encourage people to meet volags (Voluntary Agencies) working in their area,” she says.
A new NPCA affiliate group, the Peace Corps Community for the Support of Refugees, is working to connect members of our community who are willing to help with local agencies resettling refugees across the nation. Please contact them if you're interested in making a difference.
The names of the Syrian family have been changed in order to protect their privacy.
Megan Patrick posted an articleTop 10 events in 2016 for the Peace Corps community. see more
The Peace Corps community experienced a tremendous year — one that closes an era and presents an open future. Together in 2016, we reinforced our connection and shared experience; we advocated for the right to serve; we created positive impact both domestically and abroad. In the 55th year of America's greatest institution, Peace Corps Volunteers expanded programs into new countries, while Returned Peace Corps Volunteers united to meet new global challenges in affiliate groups. The following list reflects closure, new beginnings, and our community's diverse acts toward Peace Corps values in 2016:
- NPCA published the final print Peace Corps Community Directory, and provided an online platform for all PCVs, RPCVs and Peace Corps staff to connect with individuals and affiliate groups.
- Peace Corps announced historical new programs in Myanmar and Vietnam.
- With firm conviction that RPCVs have the cross-cultural skills, adaptability, and commitment to make a significant contribution in the global humanitarian effort, Peace Corps Community for the Support of Refugees became an official NPCA affiliate group.
- With the retirement of Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) and the defeat of Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), just two RPCVs are left in Congress, the lowest level of representation in almost 40 years.
- Peace Corps unveiled a new look to engage the next generation of service-minded Americans.
- In one day, over 230 individuals arrived on Capitol Hill to tell Congress that America and the world need a bigger, better Peace Corps. *To read more about NPCA's 2016 advocacy wins click here.
- The community celebrated the 55th anniversary of the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C. Sept 21-25, 2016.
- NPCA transformed into a mission-driven organization with the global impact of the Community Fund.
- Carrie Hessler-Radelet served her final year as the 19th Director of the Peace Corps. **Share your memories and photos here in gratitude for her service.
- Donald Trump became President-elect of the United States. A 115th Congress and a Trump Administration present a new political landscape.
Navigating the future for the Peace Corps depends on all of us. With your support and engagement, we will continue shaping history together in 2017.