Category Archives: Environment

The Peace Corps, Disaster, and the Written Word

"Toucan Times: July, August, September 2002"

“Toucan Times: July, August, September 2002″

One of the official goals of the Peace Corps is to “help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.” Peace Corps volunteers achieve this goal through immersion within their respective communities. Peace Corps volunteers also form and maintain relationships and bonds with each other. Unofficial newspapers created by Peace Corps volunteers help foster community bonds between volunteers. These newsletters contain editorials, poetry, recipes, book reviews, and announcements relevant to volunteers.

One such magazine, the Toucan Times, documented PCVs serving in Belize. In 2001 and 2002, the Toucan Times devoted much space to how PCVs dealt with the effects of Hurricane Iris. Hurricane Iris hit Belize in early October of 2001. The disaster caused approximately 250 million dollars worth of damage and left thousands homeless. Several Peace Corps volunteers, including Alanna Randall, relocated to new homes. Alanna Randall, an environmental education and community development volunteer and one of the editors of the Toucan Times, expressed her emotional turmoil via a newspaper article. She wrote how, “many of the familiar landmarks were missing or moved, I almost didn’t even recognize where I lived…Stepping carefully around scattered pieces of plywood, I spotted my fan lying near a gravesite. Feeling numb and disbelieving, I sifted through the rubble. Random items were unearthed until I felt satisfied that all that could be was recovered.”

"In the rubble of my house"

“In the Rubble of my House”, Toucan Times, April/May/June 2002. 

In a message home, Randall wrote, “I’m officially a refugee of Hurricane
Iris. My peace corps family is sheltering me and searching for funds to get me started again…I’m doing fine. Anyway,”there’s nothing left to
do, but smile, smile, smile.”

The Peace Corps assisted with Alanna’s move to Cristo Rey Village and later San Ignacio. This story highlights the resilience of Peace Corps volunteers in the face of unpredictable hardships. Alanna’s hardships also show how Peace Corps newsletters like the Toucan Times provide volunteers with creative space to express and share their Peace Corps experiences.

Waterways and Local Communities

Marines Fisheries photo jpg

“Marine Fisheries Trainees Doing Artificial Reef Construction,” Avram Primack, Peace Corps Community Archive

Avram Primack served his time in the Peace Corps (1987-1989) in the Philippines working with marine fisheries. One of the goals of the Peace Corps is to “to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.” For many Filipinos, fishing is a major source of both nourishment and trade.Coastal Resources Management Volunteers continue to support the Filipino communities by creating eco-friendly environments that provide food and revenue for local fishermen.

One of the methods employed by Peace Corps volunteers is the construction of artificial reefs. The practice of artificial reef construction is thousands of years old. Recently, such reefs have been used to create semi-permanent habitats for fish as well as preventing erosion of crucial shorelines. These reefs give local communities the environmental support they need for economic development, which is especially crucial in the islands of the Philippines.

Between 1973 and 1975, Jonathan Green served in the Kanchanaburi Province of Thailand assisting with malaria control. While in Thailand, Green observed how communities use rivers to transport goods and materials. During the rainy season, roads become impassable quagmires. Rivers are thus the primary means of transportation and communication when there are no asphalt roads in the area.

Service in the Peace Corps gives volunteers the opportunity not only to assist local development, but to gain new appreciation for the environment and how other cultures live side by side with various environmental concerns.

People are loading bamboo in barges, presumably to take down the river to sell in the big cities, Jonathan Green, American University Peace Corps Community Archive

“People are loading bamboo in barges, presumably to take down the river to sell in the big cities”, Jonathan Green, American University Peace Corps Community Archive. In other countries such as Thailand, Peace Corps volunteers observe how crucial waterways are in the economy of local communities.

 

 

 

 

Avram Primack in the Philippines

Avram Primack

Country of Service: Philippines
Place of Service:Negros Oriental
Service Type: Marine Fisheries
Dates in Service: 1987-1989
Keywords: Agriculture, Environment

Accession Date: July 9, 2014
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 item

Document Types

  • Pre-service training book (pdf)

New Arrivals: Peace Corps Orientation in Paraguay

As Paraguay III arrived in December 1969, Peace Corps staff greeted and educated new volunteers about the place they would call home for the next two years.

“Arrival of Paraguay III volunteers, Asuncion International Airport, December 1969.”

 

“Assistant Director Tony Bellotti addressing newly-arrived Paraguay III volunteers in Peace Corps office, Asuncion.”

The previous images, as well as the ones that follow, are part of the Robert Meade collection.  As a member of Paraguay II from 1968-1969, Meade travelled throughout Paraguay documenting his experiences.  Those images enabled Meade to create a slide show to educate new trainees, as well as others, about Paraguay.  Included in his slide show are images of eastern Paraguay, historic sites, Peace Corps activities, and the capital city Asuncion.  Meade’s orientation slide show presents unique images of the country and people, and ultimately provides volunteers with an idea of the places and work they might experience.  After completing his two-year commitment, Meade continued working as a trainer in Peace Corps training centers located in Escondido, California and Ponce, Puerto Rico. [Note: All image captions were written by Robert Meade.]

“Itinerant vegetable vendor, Asuncion.”

“‘Campo’ about 50 miles east of Asuncion along the main road.”

“Paraguayan girls selling ‘chipa,’ a chewy cheese bread found throughout the country, Eusebio Ayala.”

“Near Colonia Sroessner, far east Paraguay.”

 

“The Church of San Roque in Caazapa. Caazapa was founded in 1607 as a Franciscan mission. The town’s name means ‘after the forest’ or ‘in the clearing’ in Guarani.”

 

“Curing yerba mate over a mud over. Mate, an herbal tea, is the favored drink in the Paraguayan countryside.”

To see more images from Paraguay, visit the AU Archives and browse the Robert Meade Collection.

Combatting Malaria in Thailand

During the 1907s, Jonathan Green worked with a malaria control program in South Central Thailand’s Control Zone 3.  Accompanied by a crew, Green ventured into the jungle to spray local villagers’ homes with DDT.  If individuals suspected they might have malaria, the organization administered a blood test and provided medication for those who tested positive.

Here, Green wears his khaki uniform, like other Thai civil servant officials. According to Green, his boss suggested this type of uniform because villagers would be more trusting and recognize him as an official.

Green’s work took him into the jungle to visit local villages.

Green traveling by boat. Rain often made traveling on dirt roads impossible.

Members of the spray team walk along the trail carrying their equipment. Jonathan Green wrote, “Each sprayman carries a canvas bag containing several plastic bags of powdered DDT, his sprayer, and a bucket in which to mix the DDT with water. Powdered DDT is not soluble in water, so it is hard to mix. But then the whole idea is to spray a suspension on the interior walls of homes, so the water will evaporate and leave the powder adhering to the walls to kill mosquitoes who like to rest there.”

Spraying DDT underneath a dwelling’s eaves.

“Mr. Winai, the malaria control sector chief for Tongphum and Snagkhlaburi districts, examining a blood sample under the microscope.”

Jonathan Green’s collection is the only one currently in the Peace Corps Community Archive documenting a volunteer’s experience in Thailand.  Green wrote detailed captions explaining each image and elaborating on his Peace Corps service.

To view more photos, visit Jonathan Green’s Facebook page.

Agricultural Extension Work in Paraguay

Peace Corps work in Paraguay began in January 1968.  The majority of volunteers in Paraguay I worked as agricultural extension agents.  It was their job to help local farmers improve the efficiency and output of small, rural farms.

“P-I Volunteer Rich Stockton and interim PC Paraguay Director Mike Doyle.”

In addition to assisting farmers, PCVs helped to establish and promote the 4-C clubs—an equivalent of 4-H in the US—among Paraguay’s youth.

“P-I PCV Rick Mines with ag. extension agent Ojeda doing grafting demonstration with a 4-C club in Pedro Juan Caballero.”

 

“4-C garden in Cheiro-Cue.”

Peace Corps Volunteer Robert Meade served in multiple locations throughout Paraguay promoting public health and agriculture.  According to Meade, PCVs played an instrumental role in encouraging local farmers to plant new crops and experiment with diverse agricultural projects visible in the images below.     

“Two Paraguayan farmers (“campesinos”) showing off melons grown in their gardens. PCVs were instrumental in getting farmers to try new crops for the market. Eusebio Ayala.”

 

“An ag. Extension agent with a local farmer with a tank to grow tilapia, another project started by Peace Corps Paraguay, Eusebio Ayala.”

 

“Raising rabbits for food and fur, another 4-C program backed by Peace Corps.”

All image captions above were written by Robert Meade.

These are only a few of the fascinating images documenting the work and experiences of PCVs in Paraguay.  To view more images, visit the Archives and Special Collections.

The Benefits of Peace Corps Service

Ever wonder what a Peace Corps volunteer actually gains from their experience abroad?  What new insights do they leave with?  What did volunteers learn about themselves?

Randal Participants 2002

Summer Program Participants, Cristo Rey Village, 2002

“I’ve survived the challenge of Peace Corps and found that I really like working with little kids.  I also found that I like to write and edit,” reflected Alanna Randall in an email to family and friends in the United States.  As a volunteer in San Ignacio, Belize, Randall worked as an Environmental Education Coordinator.  It makes sense that you might not love every aspect of the job you are assigned to do.  Yet, the Peace Corps environment provided many young individuals a chance to work in positions they might not originally choose.  Randall reflected on her own experience, “I’ve learned quite a bit about our environment, but I still don’t really feel qualified to be an ‘environmental educator.”

Volunteers like Randall left the Peace Corps with a deeper understanding of areas they were interested in pursuing post-Peace Corps, as well as those they unquestionably felt were not for them.

Randall Children 2002

Alanna Randall with Summer Program Participants, 2002

Nancy Ann McClintock in Colombia

Nancy Ann McClintock

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Pereira and Bogota
Service Type: Education and Conservation
Dates in Service: 1972-1974
Keywords: Agriculture, Education, Environment, Youth

Accession Date: July 2001; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 3 folders

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Publications
  • Sound

Jennifer Frum in Colombia

Jennifer Belt Frum

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Quibdo, Choco
Service Project Title: CARE Project
Dates in Service: 1965-1967
Keywords: Community Development, Education, Environment, Health

Accession Date: March 2008; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Reports
  • Publications

Jerry Estruth in Colombia

Jerry Estruth

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Antioquia
Service Type: Agriculture
Dates in Service: 1967
Keywords: (Choose From) Agriculture, Community Development, Education, Environment

Accession Date: April 2005; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Reports
  • Publications