Tiffany James posted an articleVeteran journalist Sandra Clark is the new CEO of StoryCorps see more
Founded in 2003, StoryCorps shares stories to deepen connections between people and create a just, compassionate world. Sandra Clark is the first woman of color to lead the nonprofit as StoryCorps CEO.
By Tiffany James
Photo courtesy StoryCorps
In February Sandra Clark (Guinea-Bissau 1990–94) took on a new role as CEO of StoryCorps — the nonprofit organization that, through stories, has sought to deepen connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world since its founding in 2003. Clark is the second person and first woman of color to serve as StoryCorps CEO.
During a panel discussion at NPCA’s 2022 Shriver Leadership Summit in March, Clark spoke about how Peace Corps shaped her as a journalist, how StoryCorps’ archive is full of various Volunteer experiences, and how storytelling has the power to connect humanity. “StoryCorps is the thing that makes me believe there are way more people out there who want change, way more people who want to find a space where they can actually problem-solve together and connect with each other,” Clark said. “It’s those basic connections and that empathy that give us some hope. If we have more ways to connect in this kind of way, maybe we can come together and solve the really big problems — because democracy is under siege right now.”
“StoryCorps is the thing that makes me believe there are way more people out there who want change, way more people who want to find a space where they can actually problem-solve together and connect with each other.”
Prior to StoryCorps, Clark was the vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY — the leading PBS and NPR affiliate in Philadelphia — where she managed news operations across multiple media platforms and oversaw the station’s diversity, cultural competency, community engagement, and trust-building initiatives. Clark also brings to the new role years of experience as the managing editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, where her leadership led to the paper’s most successful reader engagement initiative and a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2014. She is a longtime DEI advocate who seeks to close the knowledge, power, and trust gap between journalists and communities of color. The Philadelphia Tribune named her one of the Most Influential African American Leaders in 2021.
Orrin Luc posted an articleNews and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and around the world. see more
News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff.
By Peter V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)
Ambassador Donald Lu (pictured) confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. Gary M. Restaino nominated to be U.S. Attorney for Arizona. Women advancing in medicine and business. New books. Honoring an early Volunteer for outstanding contributions to the community. Nonprofit leaders research clean energy and financial empowerment.
Have news to share with the Peace Corps community? Let us know.
Ken Culver (1965–67) has been inducted into the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, which recognizes persons over 60 who have made special contributions to their communities. In addition to his time on city council in Lancaster, Ohio, he works with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Fairfield County. He is a founding member of the Lancaster Playhouse and served on the Fairfield Medical Center board, and has also worked with the Maywood Mission, Habitat for Humanity, the Lancaster Public Education Foundation, the Salvation Army, and the First Presbyterian Church Elder Mission.
Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel (1999–01) is a photo editor at National Geographic. She serves as a judge for the Ocean Storytelling Grant and has edited stories in the magazine’s 2019–20 series highlighting women. She also contributed to the 2018 series on race and diversity.
Melvin Foote (1973–75) was recognized as one of the Top 500+ Annual Powerlist Influential Africans in the World by Tropics Magazine. He was honored with the Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mali—the Knight of the Order of Mali, for a foreign national. Foote is the founder and CEO of the Constituency for Africa.
Charles Blomquist (1988–90) has been appointed to the Baltimore City Circuit Court by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. He has spent his entire legal career as a prosecutor and is currently a deputy state prosecutor in the Office of State Prosecutor.
Chris Roesel (1973–75) is the founder and president of P2P, Inc. It is a nonprofit organization providing water, sanitation, hygiene, malaria-elimination, and income improvement in Uganda. The organization was named a 2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit. In August, his new book, How to Improve the World Quickly, was published by Peace Corps Writers. “After the Peace Corps, how to help those most in need was the question that drove me,” he noted. “So I searched out the best projects in the world, analyzed them, and then tested what and how to do it in more than 20 countries of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.”
Margaret Chell (2018–20) was more than a year into her service as a Volunteer when COVID-19 struck. Now she is completing medical school at Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine in Pasadena, California.
Adam Browning, co-founder and longtime executive director of Vote Solar, is leaving the organization that he began 20 years ago. Vote Solar was founded in 2002 and advocates for clean energy in legislative and regulatory arenas at the state level, where most decisions about electricity are made.
Jessica Collins (1996–98) is executive director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts. Her wide-ranging professional leadership in building coalitions to tackle the pressing community issues has been recognized through her selection as a 2021 Woman of Impact by Business West.
REPUBLIC OF KIRIBATI
David Brummel (1998–2000) has been appointed (October 2021) Director of Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment in Minnesota. He served as deputy director beginning in 2014.
Clifford Garstang (1976–77) practiced international law before becoming an active writer of fiction. He recently published Oliver’s Travels (Regal House Publishing), a novel exploring the “folly of memory and life’s meaning” through Ollie Tucker, a recent college graduate and student of philosophy, who invents an alter ego, Oliver, who lives the adventurous and exotic existence Ollie cannot.
Roland Merullo (1979–80) has published Driving Jesus to Little Rock (PFP Publishers), a quirky travelogue about a driver who picks up a passenger who claims to be Jesus.
Lawrence Leamer (1965–67) has published Capote’s Women, which depicts Truman Capote’s relationship with notable women during his lifetime and is just out from Putnam. Leamer is the author of 18 books including five New York Times bestsellers and one off-Broadway play.
Mike Mitchell (1983–85), founder of Project Play, was awarded Alumnus of the Year by De La Salle High School in Concord, California. The nonprofit organization provides universal access to basic social services; empowering people living in poverty and their organizations; progressively developing social protection systems to support those who cannot support themselves; addressing the disproportionate impact of poverty on women; intensifying international cooperation for poverty eradication.
Gary M. Restaino (1991–93) was appointed in October to be the United States Attorney for Arizona — the top federal law enforcement officer in the state. Restaino has been a federal prosecutor in Arizona since 2003 and was previously the chief of the criminal division and the white collar crime section. Restaino has also worked as a trial attorney for the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and worked on some of the highest profile cases of the past decade in Arizona. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Restaino was a civil rights lawyer for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and represented farmworkers for a Phoenix-based legal aid service.
Donald Lu (1988–90) became Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs on September 15, 2021, after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Prior to this assignment, Assistant Secretary Lu served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic from 2018 to 2021 and the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Albania from 2015–18. Before his posting in Albania, Assistant Secretary Lu worked on the Ebola crisis in West Africa as the Deputy Coordinator for Ebola Response in the Department of State. Lu is a Foreign Service Officer with more than 30 years of U.S. government service.
Lauren North (2010–12) is the newly-appointed staff attorney for the Jefferson County Family Court (KY) and the first recipient of Earlham College’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award (October 2021).
Communications Intern posted an articleEditor Steven Saum speaks on issues of the current times and how NPCA can move forward. see more
Peace Corps teaches us a new way to think about time. Pandemic does, too. So what do we do with this?
By Steven Boyd Saum
ACROSS THE DECADES and countries and communities where tens of thousands of Peace Corps Volunteers have served, there are a few things we share. One: a new grasp of time. Be it seasons or how we count the days, a revised sense of punctuality or the value of hours in terms of money or daylight, be it devoted to sleep or preparing a meal or hiking to the well, be it in the presence of friends or alone with this self you are becoming — one of the gifts: to be invited into a new way of measuring a life. Step outside of the this, then this, then this. Also a gift: the dawning of the truth that empathy and understanding are not transactional stuff, giver and receiver both richer, stronger, wiser, more human.
Now here we are: old strictures of time dissolved, pandemic time warping the distance between today and last Monday until that day is shockingly distant. When time itself has taken on new meaning—or lack thereof. But how?
It’s been nearly nine months since most Volunteers around the world got the news — via phone call or email or WhatsApp: Because of COVID-19, they were being evacuated. The pandemic was burning its way across the globe. In this country and others, it still exacts a terrible toll. As we put the fall edition of WorldView magazine to bed, globally there have been 43 million cases and 1.16 million people have died, more than 226,000 lives lost in the United States alone.
We look to a pandemic a century in the past for lessons on enduring this one. And we behold a future that came too soon.
We look to a pandemic a century in the past for lessons on enduring this one. And we behold a future that came too soon.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, which I call home, this was the year of the Blade Runner sky: Dry lightning sparked hundreds of fires up and down the Golden State, including the largest blaze in recorded history — more than 1 million acres. As summer faded, fires were burning up and down the West Coast of the United States and Canada, fulfillment of Cassandra climate change warnings that would visit themselves upon us within a quarter century if we didn’t do something now. Then here they were.
To Louisiana came four named storms: Marco, Laura, Beta, Delta — the second of that lot blowing the fiercest winds of any tropical cyclone in modern history to make landfall on the Bayou State.
The arc of a storm, the arc of history, the path of the fire or the pandemic of COVID or hateful racism: Where will we find ourselves in the time that matters? Digging the perimeter to halt the flames, preparing meals for the first responders, helping someone breathe?
WorldView Fall 2020: What’s the role of Peace Corps now? Cover illustration by David Plunkert.
THIS UNPRECEDENTED MOMENT, 2020 continued. Let us speak of world peace and friendship. We’ve just begun commemorating six decades since this whole audacious Peace Corps endeavor caught the 1960 election-year zeitgeist. Origin story: 2 a.m. at the University of Michigan on a drizzly and chilly October 14, cut to San Francisco’s Cow Palace on November 2, and not even six weeks after inauguration day 1961 there’s the executive order on 3/1/61 — JFK signs the Peace Corps into being. Youthful idealism that set in motion something that could and should be the best of what this nation aspires to be.
Perhaps not coincidentally, when I was teaching contemporary American literature as a Volunteer in western Ukraine — the independent country then all of three years old — the poem that most fired my students’ imaginations was Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “I Am Waiting.” It is a litany of an American promise unfulfilled, ideals unmet, but that does not mean giving up:
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder
Because as we studied this Beat poet (now 101!) I asked these future teachers and bankers, singers and city council members, mothers and fathers and citizens — notebooks, please: What are you waiting for?
WE ARE HOPING for Volunteers to return to communities around the world, knowing what’s ahead is uncharted for all. Yet ambassadors and colleagues, students and families have all asked: When? Because solidarity, not charity, calls. Yet we know that the safety and security of communities and Volunteers must circumscribe what is possible. And these cannot be empty words.
Because we carry with sorrow and compassion a tragic truth underscored in recent weeks. In January 2018, Bernice Heiderman, from Inverness, Illinois, was serving as a Volunteer in Comoros. As a New York Times article detailed this fall, she contracted and died from undiagnosed malaria. Had it been treated, she might have made a full recovery. She was 24 years old.
To her loved ones, the Peace Corps community sends the deepest condolences. And a pledge to ensure that the agency does better. As NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst wrote in an open letter, “The current challenge of suspended Peace Corps programming provides a tremendous opportunity—and clear responsibility—for the agency to engage global health experts, Congress, and the broad Peace Corps community in a transparent dialogue on where improvements in volunteer health care are needed and what is needed to implement those improvements ... And we must commit to the care and well-being of these Volunteers in a changed world.”
We can do nothing less.
Steven Boyd Saum is editor of WorldView and director of strategic communications for National Peace Corps Association. He was as a Volunteer in Ukraine 1994–96.
This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Fall 2020 issue. Read the entire magazine for free now in the WorldView app. Here’s how:
STEP 1 - Create an account: Click here and create a login name and password. Use the code DIGITAL2020 to get it free.
STEP 2 - Get the app: For viewing the magazine on a phone or tablet, go to the App Store/Google Play and search for “WorldView magazine” and download the app. Or view the magazine on a laptop/desktop here.
Helene Dudley posted an articleRotarians and RPCVs combine their synergies for the greater good. see more
By: Helene Dudley (Colombia 1968-70, Slovakia 1997-99)
Peace Corps and Rotary have a longstanding history individually as well as together. The two communities have compatible values, compatible interests, and compatible approaches to society’s problems. I am one of thousands of Americans with membership in both. I was introduced to Rotary through my work with The Colombia Project, a micro-loan program started by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). After receiving several grants and presenting to the Rotary Club of Coconut Grove, Florida it occurred to me that I should become a member. Soon two more RPCVs working with The Colombia Project joined, followed by a loan administrator in Colombia and then a former Peace Corps Korea language teacher – all because the Coconut Grove Rotary Club supported an RPCV micro-loan program. As an RPCV and Rotarian, I am amazed at the synergies that exist between these two groups.
In 2014, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, who comes from a family of Rotarians, signed two collaborative agreements with Rotary – for pilot projects in the Philippines, Thailand and Togo and to encourage Rotary Clubs to support the Peace Corps partnership program (PCPP).
Subsequent to those agreements, over 30 Rotary Clubs from hometowns of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) serving in Costa Rica have partnered with Costa Rica Rotary Clubs in the Give-A-Book literacy project to provide libraries for schools and communities served by PCVs. Rotarians traveled to Costa Rica to personally present books. Upon returning home, PCVs made presentations to the sponsoring Rotary clubs. In addition to the books, the Peace Corps-Rotary alliance in Costa Rica organizes other humanitarian projects such as an eye clinic organized by two PCVs for March 2017 with Rotarian eye doctors participating from Rotary Clubs in Florida, Indiana, and California.
Collaboration with currently serving Volunteers is off to a good start but even better opportunities exist for Rotary-RPCV collaborations like those with the Denver Rotary Club’s cook stove research in Vanuatu, girls’ education in Senegal and the Coal Creek, Colorado Rotary Club’s water projects in Panama. The full potential for collaborations between Rotary and RPCVs through the NPCA remains largely untapped but ultimately should be even more attractive to Rotarians in providing RPCV partners with proven track records.
One Rotary supported RPCV program, The Colombia Project – TCP Global, builds zero overhead, sustainable micro-loan programs in five countries to date. By partnering with organizations already working effectively at the grassroots level, virtually no overhead is required to manage 30-45 open loans.
Just as the Rotary-Peace Corps Partnership invites Rotary Clubs to support PCPP working with PCVs, an expansion of this collaboration into the Peace Corps community could provide financial support for current and future projects vetted through the National Peace Corps Association's Community Fund such as TCP Global micro-loans, Water Charity, The Village Link, and other projects that involve Rotary in some, but not all implementation sites. Rotarian and RPCV hybrids are coming together to create an affiliate group, so be sure to let us know if you are a Rotarian.
In 2017, there are two unique opportunities to strengthen ties between Rotary and the Peace Corps community. RPCV Rotarians are encouraged to visit the Peace Corps booth at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, GA this June 2017. All Rotarians and members of the Peace Corps community are also encouraged to attend Peace Corps Connect annual conference in Denver, CO this August 2017.
The Peace Corps Community and the Rotarian Community each do a tremendous amount of good in the world. Since projects can have far greater impact when we collaborate with others, imagine what could be accomplished if the two organizations joined forces.
Meisha Robinson posted an articleRPCV Mandy Manning named 2018 National Teacher of the Year. see more
“I am honored and excited …” said the longtime teacher from Spokane, Washington in a statement. “This year I hope to engage the nation in a conversation about how we can encourage students to experience things outside of their understanding. When we move out of our comfort zones, visit new places, listen to others’ thoughts, and share our own opinions, we become compassionate and open.”
Since 2011, Manning has been the High School Newcomer Center English Language Development Teacher for the Spokane Public Schools which has a large refugee and ESL population including more than 70 languages spoken and many arriving with no prior formal instruction. Manning employs experiential education methods to help her students transition to their new situations, appreciate where they’ve come from and jumpstart their learning. She often helps the teens and their families outside of the classroom. Manning is also active in connecting the learning center with community leaders and new teachers to share her vision of the importance of the program’s work. She began her teaching career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia from 1999 – 2001.
“Peace Corps showed me the beauty and the value of every new person, their way of thinking, acting, and being, and helped me to be adaptable to new situations and experiences. That adaptability and acceptance of people and experiences outside of my understanding serves me every day in the classroom,” said Manning by email. “Peace Corps changed my trajectory in life, bringing me to where I am today. I am forever thankful I volunteered.”
Earlier this year Manning was named the 2018 Washington State Teacher of the Year and then one of the top four finalists in the national competition put on by the nonprofit Council of Chief State School Officers. “Mandy is a strong educator who believes in a great public education for every student and has a unique perspective on meeting the needs of some of our nation's most vulnerable children. She is dedicated to empowering teacher leaders and putting people first,” said the National Teacher of the Year selection committee in a statement. As part of this honor, Manning will travel the country to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers and students.
Pattye Volz is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs.
Know a great leader in a Peace Corps country? see more
National Peace Corps Association is accepting nominations for the 2019 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award.
Do you know a phenomenal leader in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served — and his or her life was influenced by the Peace Corps? If so, now is the time to recognize their work by nominating this leader for this prestigious award.
NPCA is proud to celebrate the tireless individuals abroad who have yet to be thanked for their dedication and hard work. To do this, we need to hear from you.
Thank you for your submissions, and please feel free to share this important call for the recognition of others.
Get your eight weeks of free digital access to The New York Times! see more
As a special thank you for being part of the Peace Corps community, National Peace Corps Association has partnered with The New York Times to share eight free weeks of unlimited digital access to the Times — no credit card required.
How to Sign Up:
- Log in to your NPCA profile
- Option 1: Forgot your password? Use your e-mail to create a new password.
- Option 2: New to NPCA? Create a free profile!
- Once logged in, click here to go to the exclusive New York Times page.
- The Sign Up page will display a code to redeem your complimentary eight week digital access to The New York Times.
Don’t miss out — this opportunity ends on January 31, 2017.
The New York Times Digital Access promotional offer is for new subscribers only, and is not applicable for existing digital or home delivery subscribers. This code has no cash or other redemption value and must be redeemed by March 30, 2017. Lost codes cannot be replaced. Smartphone and tablet apps may not be supported on all devices. Digital Access subscriptions do not include e-reader editions, Times Insider content or digital versions of The New York Times Crossword. Other restrictions apply.
- Log in to your NPCA profile
Read how advocacy can help your representative. see more
By Alan Ruiz Terol
Does advocacy really make a difference? If you are one of the many who push for important issues and reforms by members of Congress, you might have found yourself asking this question more than once. Sometimes, the effort may be disheartening. After all, the range of issues brought to Capitol Hill is vast. But Michael Carlo, an RPCV who works within Congress as a legislative assistant, has a message for our community — advocacy matters a lot.
Carlo’s point is clear: members of Congress ultimately represent their districts and each need to know the priorities of their constituents — and there’s no better way than to tell them directly. “It makes a difference when they can say ‘I’ve heard from these many people and they are passionate about the Peace Corps, so I better pay attention to that and listen to what they’ve got to say.’”
Advocacy is central to NPCA’s work, but the role of RPCVs around the country is also crucial. “There’s ultimately no better voice than people actually from the districts and states that members of Congress represent,” Carlo says.
His own experience taught him that the most effective way of advocating for the Peace Corps is coming to Washington D.C. to meet representatives and staff members. “Those are really effective meetings, because it’s one thing to read about it on a piece of paper, but another to actually talk about it to someone who has been overseas, who has lived in a small village in Africa and knows what it’s like.”
Even though not everyone can travel to the Capitol twice a year, they can still make a difference. “People can also meet their representatives in their district offices or at public events, like Town Halls, that’s fine,” he advises. “And if you can’t make it, you can write a letter to your representative, you can make a call, you can send us an email. Continuing to just be engaged with your representatives makes a difference.”
How he ended up in the Capitol
When asked for advice for RPCVs who want to work on the Hill, his suggestion is to get involved at the local level. In fact, that’s what he did. In 2006, while still at college, Carlo joined (now Senator) Chris Murphy’s campaign to represent Connecticut’s fifth district in the House of Representatives. Against all odds, he defeated the incumbent candidate, who had served for 24 years (longer than the time Carlo had been alive, as he recalls).
After supporting the office of Rep. Murphy, Carlo joined the Peace Corps serving as a teacher in a small village near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. When he returned to the US in 2012, Chris Murphy was running for Senate and Carlo joined his campaign. During the same election, Elizabeth Esty ran for Murphy’s previous seat in the House. Both candidates won their respective races, and Carlo went to work for Esty in 2013.
What an RPCV can offer
As a legislative assistant, Carlo is responsible for following up on a variety of issues: foreign affairs, defense, veterans’ affairs, transportation, etc. He believes that his Peace Corps experience has proven to be a valuable asset when approaching complex issues. He learned that “the world is pretty complicated and it’s important not to rush to judgment and try to get a better understanding of what’s happening.”
His knowledge of Ukraine’s politics and culture, especially after the revolution, has been essential. “There’s a lot of oversimplification of the situation there, and I have a greater appreciation of how complicated it is,” he says. “I take that with me when there are other situations where I see the immediate headlines and I try to remind myself, ‘wait a second, it’s obviously more complicated than that’, and if I really want to understand that I’d better take my time and try to understand the history behind those events and what’s really happening there.”
How can you help NPCA's advocacy efforts? Our first big event in 2017 comes in early March — our 13th annual National Days of Action in Support of the Peace Corps! Our focus this year is to have at least 100 district office meetings and other solidarity events around the country. Contact us today and commit to organizing a March event in your community. You can also donate! Please be as generous as you can with an end-of-year donation to help fuel NPCA's advocacy program in 2017!
Seeking recently returned African American RPCVs for a research study on volunteerism. see more
African American Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are invited to participate in a research study titled Volunteerism: The Exploration of Cultural Value Orientations of African American College Students during the Peace Corps Marketing Process. The purpose of this study will be to explore the Peace Corps’ African American volunteer shortage. The study will seek to uncover cultural value barriers existing in the Peace Corps that affect African American volunteerism. It will also explore cultural values communicated between the Peace Corps and African Americans through Peace Corps marketing mediums. The findings of this study will be significant in addressing the shortage of African American volunteers in the Peace Corps and in the development of best practices to attract African American college student volunteers. To be considered as participants the individuals must meet the following participant profile:
- African American
- Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
- A National Peace Corps Association member
- Communicate in English
- Have you been exposed to Peace Corps marketing mediums (web, tv, radio, events)
Participation in this study is voluntary and private. The participant has the right to terminate their involvement at any time during the research process. Participants will be asked to share personal lived experiences during a 90-minute interview. The interviews will be held online using WebEx video conferencing. Interviews will also be audio-video recorded. The researcher will conduct online interviews at a time that is convenient for the participant. The participant will be granted no monetary compensation for their time and contributions once they complete the study. If you fit the participant profile listed above and interested in the study, please contact William W. Marrow Jr. at (804) 310-9015 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every dollar matched to reach greater impact in Eritrean refugee camps. see more
In the Horn of Africa, a worsening refugee crisis is finding relief from Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).
By providing refugees with water, health and power, and resettlement services, and raising awareness of their plight through the power of film, the Peace Corps community is helping Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia and elsewhere.
In partnership with National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), Water Charity is providing refugees with access to water, basic health services, and solar panels. Water Charity’s Averill Strasser (Bolivia 1966-68) and Beverly Rouse are confident that more desperately needed help is on the way following the recent announcement of a pledged $25,000 match challenge from an anonymous donor. Join NPCA's fundraising campaign for these water and sanitation projects.
Linked forever to Eritreans following his service in the country from 1966 to 1968, John Stauffer is the co-founder and President of the America Team for Displaced Eritreans, providing resettlement services to many of the 400,000 Eritrean refugees who have fled their homeland.
Stauffer will speak about his experiences and how the Peace Corps community can help at Peace Corps Connect following the screening of Refugee: The Eritrean Exodus, director Chris Cotter’s raw, harrowing story of following the Eritrean exodus. The screening will kick off Peace Corps Connect on Wednesday, September 21—the International Day for Peace. Tickets are on sale through September 12.
Long considered the North Korea of Africa, Eritrea has caused one of the largest, yet lesser-known refugee crisis in the world through gross human rights violations. Refugees are largely confined to camps in Ethiopia, and many attempt a treacherous and often deadly trek to resettlement in Western Europe.
Following several successful projects in Ethiopia with currently-serving Peace Corps Volunteers and after viewing Refugee, Water Charity’s Strasser decided it was time to help in the camps. The NPCA-Water Charity partnership is well underway, and the $25,000 match challenge will add to progress already being made.
Ethiopian and Eritrean RPCVs have been actively involved in their host countries for many years, especially since war broke out between the two nations in the late 1990s. For their efforts to broker a peaceful resolution to a border dispute in 1999, the Ethiopian and Eritrean RPCV group was awarded NPCA’s Loret Miller Ruppe Award.
You can donate to NPCA-Water Charity projects in Ethiopia here, and join us at the screening of Refugee to become part of the conversation led by John Stauffer at Peace Corps Connect.
RPCV Camillia Freeland-Taylor helps community build school in Southern province of Zambia. see more
The Community Fund: Perpetuating a Lifelong Commitment to Peace Corps Ideals
At National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), we understand the impact Volunteers make in host communities, as well as those host communities make upon Volunteers. Both resonate for decades. The Community Fund thrives on sustaining that relationship and impact.
An example are Camillia Freeland-Taylor’s (Zambia 2013-15) efforts to support the children of her village, Magalela, who must walk nine miles and cross two rivers to attend school. Many families do not allow their girls to attend because of the two-hour walk. During Camillia’s service, a first grade boy drowned on the journey.
The village children need a local primary school to ensure their basic human right to education. Camillia worked both during and after service to meet this need.
The grant she originally received as a PCV provided the amount necessary to lay the foundation of the school. As an RPCV, Camillia sought out NPCA to purchase cement and other building materials to complete the project by plastering the school's walls, finishing the floors, building latrines, and fitting windows with glass. The Zambian government will then provide teachers.
“It’s good to have a school because our children won’t have to walk so far (usually six-eight kilometers one way), and they don’t have to worry about crossing the river during the rainy season, which is extremely dangerous. Right now we have no choice, but we are trying to change that through the new school” says Jethrow Siatubi, Magalela Village Head.
Education has a compounding effect, and the result of allowing an entire community of children access to a primary education is profound. Studies show that with each additional year of education, an individual will earn more as an adult and prevent extreme poverty. Moreover, women who receive a primary school education are less likely to lose children in the first five years of the child’s life.
“I remember one time I went to the hospital and they gave me the wrong medicine. If I wasn’t educated I wouldn’t have been able to tell the medicine was meant for someone else and for a different problem. I was able to do so because of education. I want my children to have a better education and a chance at a brighter future” remarked Julius Simombeh, a school committee member.
In June 2016, NPCA in partnership with CALL and Cigna, embarked on an adventure to Thailand! see more
The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is a proud partner of Northeastern University's Cultural Agility Leadership Lab (CALL). NPCA continually seeks out opportunities to increase the impact of the Peace Corps community; with CALL, our organization pulls from the invaluable cultural knowledge and expertise of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) to support projects abroad.
In June 2016, NPCA, CALL and our private sector partner, Cigna, created a team to address the needs of three nongovernmental organizations in Bangkok, Thailand. Twelve Cigna corporate volunteers provided pro bono IT support, while experiencing a crash course in cultural agility led by three RPCVs and Northeastern's Dr. Paula Caliguiri.
Cigna representatives partnered with cultural coaches and Thailand RPCVs Jessica Martin, Joel Saldana Jr. and NPCA’s own J.M. Ascienzo.
With the guidance of RPCV cultural coaches, accomplishments of the Bangkok program include:
Baan Nokkamin Foundation
Cigna volunteers laid the groundwork for website design and strategy for the Baan Nokkamin Foundation, an organization that provides housing and opportunities for over 350 orphans. Cigna volunteers learned about Baan Nokkamin’s holistic approach to providing residents the skills they need to excel, and partnered on the project with Baan Nokkamin staff who first came to the foundation as young children in need.
Employees from Cigna supported the NGO, Childline Thailand, which cares for the country's most vulnerable and abused children, often the victims of child prostitution. Childline Thailand’s hub is a safe place near Bangkok’s Hua Lomphong train station for street children to receive a warm meal, extra schooling, or access to health and legal services. Cigna volunteers worked with staff from Thailand and Russia to design a website called Ya Tee Dek, which translates to “Don’t Hit Children.” The Ya Tee Dek campaign is an anti-corporal punishment resource for students, teachers and community members.
Brighter Thailand Foundation
Representatives of the Brighter Thailand Foundation traveled from Thailand’s northeastern Isaan Region to work with Cigna volunteers on improving its database and finance platforms. In partnership with the University of Missouri, the Brighter Thailand Foundation provides Thai youth with the opportunity to learn and strengthen leadership skills at week-long camps, often in coordination with currently-serving Peace Corps Volunteers.
Throughout the week Cigna employees joined their NGOs away from the office to learn about Thai culture and the challenges local NGOs face. Since returning stateside the Cigna volunteers continue to collaborate with their respective NGOs, and the partnerships will last through December. The Bangkok trip followed last year’s inaugural CALL program in Indonesia.
To support NPCA partnerships that leave a sustainable impact on NGOs abroad, visit peacecorpsconnect.org/missionpartner today!
NPCA supports community-driven projects of impact through the Community Fund see more
National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is proud to support community-driven projects of impact through the Community Fund. NPCA supports grassroots initiatives led by members of the Peace Corps community that have a lasting and sustainable impact. One of our newest initiatives is supporting the continuation of the micro-loan programs facilitated by The Colombia Project Global (TCP Global).
Where it all began
In 2000, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida (RPCVSF) established The Colombia Project (TCP), a committee that was created in response to the drastic internal displacement rates in Colombia. Social workers, attorneys, leaders of the displaced community and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) gathered at a meeting in Bogota, Colombia and decided the most effective solution was to provide resources to people ready to rebuild their lives through a sustainable micro-loan program.
The mission of TCP is two-fold: assist marginalized entrepreneurs with micro-loans and strengthen the grassroots organizations that effectively serve marginalized communities.
In Colombia, as in much of the developing world, affordable loans for marginalized entrepreneurs are available only from the daily lenders who charged up to 10% per day and often used harsh collection measures. The larger micro-finance institutions tended to focus on population centers where it is easier to scale their operations. The TCP model, however, is created for small and remote communities where the lending gap is greatest.
For TCP loan recipients, a marginal increase in family income means the difference between young adults continuing their studies and dropping out to help feed the family. Those who successfully repay several TCP loans often qualify for bank loans for their business or for constructing their own homes. In addition to loan recipients, TCP partners used earnings to benefit the communities where they work. Projects included the first latrine for the handicapped in Aguadas, a facility for the handicapped in Cartago, repairing homes for the poorest residents of Puerto Tejada, establishing a sewing cooperative and completing a community center in La Victoria.
"I no longer look at myself as a displaced person but as an entrepreneur"
- Gloria Beatriz Barliza Epiayu, Woman Entrepreneur of the year for the Guajira Region of Colombia 2011
Moving onto the next phase
In 2014, The Colombia Project became independent of RPCVSF, and evolved in to TCP Global. In 2015, TCP Global opened new programs in Niger, Guatemala and Peru with one hundred percent loan repayment in the first 16 months. In this next phase, TCP Global has seeded $10,000 from the U.S. and supported $21,000 in loans to 100 recipients and earned its current partners $5,000 to date.
TCP Global partners have found that increasing the income of their clients provides each a hand up to reach a better standard of living. These loans help keep children in school, provide healthier diets, access to clean drinking water and protection of the environment. Women entrepreneurs are often empowered by their success and progress to become community leaders.
TCP is a results-oriented model that keeps the focus on the loan recipient. If they do well, the organizations that administer the loans are compensated for their good results. The first allocation is typically $1500. Once that has been invested twice with at least a 95% repayment rate, additional allocations are sent until the permanent loan pool is sufficient to meet the needs of the community.
NPCA's Community Fund is currently supporting a new program that will open in the Philippines and in a Colombian community where there is a Peace Corps Response Volunteer. These programs are projected to need up to $12,000 each over the next 4 years.
Since funds are released in $1500 increments or less, with a promise to send more if those funds are invested successfully, the risk is small. The repayment rate for loans given since 2007 exceeds 95%. TCP’s oldest site, in Genova has invested each donated dollar eight times in nine years. That is the level of success NPCA and TCP Global hope to continue globally as this program expands with the help of the Community Fund.