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November - December 2005 — Volume 18, Number 6
NOTE: Our email addresses here are no longer clickable to prevent roaming spammers reading them. Sorry for the inconvenience- 9/05
September Community Action
SDPCA Helps Four Peace & Justice Advocates
Construction of SD Peace Center Continues
On September 10, 2005 SDPCA hosted its second work party at the San Diego Peace Center. A group of 13 enthusiastic RPCV’s and nominees worked together to prepare the last section of the foundation for the last concrete pour. Volunteers got a good workout carting sand to fill in the area, piecing together a layer of insulation, and tying rebar into place to hold the concrete together.
After a few hours of hard work under the sun the group was ready to enjoy a deliciously prepared lunch which was donated by PC nominee, Eva Rodriguez. (Thank you Eva!) After re-stocking our reserves with yummy subs and fresh fruit and taking a little break, the group went back to work until mid-afternoon.
It was a great event and again I was very impressed by everybody’s wonderful attitude and readiness to work. What a great group of people! There was a great energy in the group and everybody had a lot of fun socializing and trading Peace Corps stories ranging from in-service experiences to news on application status.
SDPCA is very happy to be part of this cutting-edge project and now, along with other volunteers who have dedicated time and effort to this project, we can celebrate our first milestone as the completion of the foundation marks the end of Phase One of the project. Our work parties have been a lot of fun but they’ve also been hard work, and so it is great to take a moment to step back and see all the progress we’ve made and to think forward to the future of this important building.
Now that the foundation is
ready we can start building up! We have a lot of exciting work ahead of
us including the construction of the innovative straw-bale walls (the
firsts in the city of San Diego). I hope that as our project continues
we will see more and more of you out there to help and be part of this
truly rewarding and fun project.
Mapquest.com can give you great directions but also feel free to contact for detailed directions.
For more information about upcoming work parties visit our site at http://sdpca.org/calendar.html and if you’d like to learn more about the San Diego Peace Center visit their website at
–Lisa Rivera, Ukraine (2002-04).
In Case You Do Not Remember Your Days of Service
News from the Field
Hi Friends and Family,
Yup, I am still here. I have
been having your classic Peace Corps ups and downs of missing home and
cultural stresses but really Morocco and my Mecissi home is awesome and
I feel pretty steeped in the cultural experience of it all. I just moved
into my house in the ighrum (the village) and finally feel like
an adult again with my own space.
Last week was my first week in the ighrum and I have been integrating now at an accelerated rate. My host sisters came over on Friday early and helped me make a huge batch of couscous so I could hold Sadaka. You make couscous and yell at the kids and moms in the village to come and get it! Everyone does this from time to time as a way to be welcoming (Yeah, welcoming is Moroccan culture in a nut shell). It was fun a good way to meet my neighbors, plus I now know how to make a mean batch of couscous. Also on Friday when I went to buy flour from the store keeper I got invited to a Seebay, the party for a new born baby, usually held the day after. I went to that after Sadaka and visited with the women and danced with the girls. Then I went to the first night of the wedding party for Aiicha a friend of my family and stayed as long as I could keep my eyes open, till about 12, I have no stamina when I am trying to think in Tamazight. And when I tried to leave before dinner I got dragged into the kitchen seated down and huge plate of food served to me. I was so tired it was hard to eat but there was no choice. Luckily there were some stray kidiwinks to help me with my mound.
The desert is still hot, hot, hot, but my language has been coming along, some days are better than others. I really like Tamazight as a language it is old as the hills and crunchy. Every new Tamazight word I learn is like a cultural gem. I find the words are really fitting for the feelings you are trying to describe. I am amused to be finding that there are many words for cool, a cherished commodity in the desert. There is ibrrd, irrouweH, losomieerd, and iquourrum to describe cool but only one word for hot, IHAMAh!
Hope everything is well for you and yours. Keep in touch.
Report to Mark J. Tonner International Support Fund
Bee-Keeping Equipment for Honey Production
The project is going, and has gone well over the last two years. I originally had planned to make cement hives, but after 6 months of arguing with a welder, I decided that even if he would follow through and make the mold we were discussing, he wasn’t quite skilled enough of make it as well as I wanted. (Over the course of the 6 months, he had managed to have every single family emergency you can imagine on this earth – for example, one day both of his wives had babies). The slow start ended up being to our advantage in some ways, because the entire village became quite well sensitized to the project, and we had many lively discussions on the pros and cons of apiculture. It also gave me time to travel throughout West-Africa (Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, and Mali) and see the different projects going on in those areas and make contacts.
In early January of this year, I finally just decided to give up on the cement, and I bought wood, and we build 3 Kenyan Top-Bar Hives. I also worked with a tailor to make our suits and a welder to make the smoker. The Banana/Melon plantation (Grandes Domaines de la Mauritanie, GDM) near the village also contributed 2 box–frame hives. I also made an informational poster of pictures and all the training material we’ve covered in the last year. Once we built the hives, I installed them will help from me “bee team” in different fields and in the forest around the village. Bees quickly inhabited the hives and we proceeded to visit them regularly and experiment we basic management operations.
I am leaving the project at a very exciting point. GDM is in desperate need for pollinators, so they are working out a contract with my “bee team” to order and construct a large number of hives (30-50) and they rent them out at a monthly rate. The village, not only gets the equipment, the rent, but also has complete control of management of the hives and the honey collection and sale. This is the perfect arrangement for the “bee team” to have the financial means to set up an apiary, learn to manage an apiary, and start income generation.
We have successfully: (1) experimented with beekeeping in the Senegal River Valley, (2) created interest in apiculture as an alternative to charcoal production in and surrounding Jidrel Mohgheun, (3) invested in the equipment necessary for beekeeping, (4) created a community organization to manage the beekeeping operation, (5) prepared a seminar to learn the management techniques, and (6) found a source of revenue to make this an economically sustainable activity.
So that’s the update from Mauritania. Thank you for this opportunity,
–Natalie Ceperley. PCV Jidrel Mohgheun, Mauritania ’03-‘05
In 2004, Natalie Ceperley got an SDPCA ISF grant of $260 for bee-keeping equipment for honey production and community enterprise startup. –Ed.
By Mark D. Gearan,
Of the many ways that Americans serve the public good, service in the armed forces holds a special pre-eminence. For obvious reasons, the tremendous personal risks undertaken and sacrifices made by armed service members on behalf of all Americans are elevated and more poignant during war time.
But there’s another way to serve the public, and that’s through the Peace Corps. The idea behind the Peace Corps, created at the height of the cold war, was a simple one: Americans - serving as representatives of the American people, not the United States government - would promote economic development and international understanding by working as volunteers alongside people in other countries.
Obviously the armed forces and the Peace Corps serve the national interest, but they do so in fundamentally different ways. Making this distinction clear - letting the world know that the Peace Corps is an independent entity - has been a basic tenet of American policy for decades.
Unfortunately, this line has been blurred. In August, the military began promoting a recruitment program that allows soldiers, after a period of active and reserve duty, to fulfill their commitment by serving in the Peace Corps. By 2007, about 4,300 recruits will be eligible for this option.
How did this happen? Three years ago, a provision for this enlistment incentive was inserted in a defense authorization bill and enacted into law without hearings or any apparent consultation with Peace Corps officials. However well-intentioned, this provision unwittingly abandoned longstanding policy that is essential to the Peace Corps mission and the personal safety of individual volunteers.
Peace Corps service - by a law enacted in 1961 - has never been an exemption for military service obligations, including the draft. This distinction was meant to signal that Peace Corps service was different in nature from military service
Perceptions matter. Over five decades, members of Congress and presidents of both parties have recognized that for Peace Corps volunteers to succeed, their actual and perceived service must be what it purports to be. Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk said it best: “To make the Peace Corps an instrument of foreign policy would be to rob it of its contributions to foreign policy.” Indeed, it was President Ronald Reagan who signed into law a bill 24 years ago that recognized this unique, essential character of the Peace Corps and made it an independent federal agency.
The Peace Corps conducts programs only in places where it is invited. Peace Corps volunteers are neither federal employees nor official representatives of the United States government. They receive a modest living allowance, not a salary, and have no diplomatic privileges or immunities. They live in homes with host-country families, and they are protected, not by security forces, but by the concern of neighbors and colleagues in the communities in which they live and work. By law, they are required to become proficient in the local language and to conduct themselves in a manner that respects the local culture.
Damaging the trust and goodwill that has been established around the world by adherence to these policies would be devastating to the Peace Corps, in some places closing the door to Peace Corps volunteers and even subjecting them to heightened risk.
Tucking in a provision that makes Peace Corps service an incentive to boost armed forces recruitment was a mistake. President Bush should ask Congress to repeal this provision before the current session adjourns.
–Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, was Peace Corps director from 1995 to 1999.
Letter to the Editor
September 29, 2005
(1) At issue is the “marketing” of military and PC service together as a package, even if only mentioned in passing. The two jobs have conflicting goals and outlooks. PC’s success has been a separation of its work from political or military agendas. Military service with a PC option is an absolute conflict of purpose.
The military is trained to focus on an “enemy”, to either kill them, force them into submission or drive them away. A PCV is trained to work with people, to teach, build skills or help develop what a community has decided it needs. The PC approach is more naïve, not pugilistic, working with rather than against people.
(2) The confusion here comes from Bush’s mistaken view that the military and Peace Corps are both intended is to spread American values worldwide. Military recruiting that continues in this approach will only undermine the true purpose of Peace Corps, which is not to dispense learning but to learn from working outside our culture and bring that learning back home.
(3) The reality of volunteerism is awesome. If the military must market itself with a volunteer option to get recruits, let them align with AmeriCorps but NOT Peace Corps. If someone wants a Peace Corps option, apply for Peace Corps instead of the military.
–Don Beck, Bolivia (1967-69)
After various discussions, the Board has decided to consider a change in the way the newsletter is distributed, that could begin with the March-April 2006 issue.
Several factors are being evaluated: 1) cost effectiveness, 2) electronic capability, 3) environmental considerations, 4) member preferance. Our plan would be to provide our usual newletter in three formats. You will choose which you prefer. You could get: a printed copy mailed to you, or a .pdf version for you to download to read/print out, or simply read the usual online edition at our website.
To help decide what we will do, we need to know what each of you prefers. You’ll have a chance to tell us after the first of the year, so stay tuned for the official notice for letting us know what you want.
When we know how many printed newsletters are needed, we can choose the most cost effective way of mailing, saving money as well as being more environmentally considerate. At the least, we will be printing on recycled paper.
–Lynn Jarrett, Ukraine (2001-03)Communication Chair, SDPCA Board of Directors
Check out on our website.
There are many good listings
of information sources and groups working in relief world wide. Use the
links to investigate individual groups and find more. Send us any new
links you frind appropriate. Note that Crisis Corps is also being mobilized
Dear Peace Corps Community:
Over the past week all of us have been touched by the devastating images and stories coming from the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. At NPCA we have been following developments closely and have received messages from the Peace Corps family with information on how we as a community can respond.
Peace Corps has asked us to let you know that they are mobilizing the Crisis Corps, and they ask that RPCV’s update their information. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster manager Karen Keefer (Nigeria 66-68) has asked me to put out the call to the Peace Corps community that FEMA is looking for returned Peace Corps volunteers interested in deploying to the South as paid FEMA “disaster reservists.”
Information on these and other ways you can help can be found on our Web site, where we’ve created a page with hurricane relief information.
We will be continually updating this page as more information becomes available, so be sure to visit it often. The page is linked directly from our home page at http://www.rpcv.org, or via the following links:
Hurricane response page:
Bulletin board, where you can
post messages and share information with the wider Peace Corps community:
Thank you for your concern and for your efforts to assist those affected by this tragic event.
–Kevin F. F. Quigley, President, NPCA
We have two wonderful ways to support our Global Awards Fund that make great gifts your friends and family will appreciate for the whole year.
The 2006 Calendars are here, ready for pickup ($10.00) or mailing ($12.00) and the San Diego Entertainment books are available at 18 Postal Annex+ stores (check the list) for $40.00.
List of Postal Annex Store Locations:
–Sean Anderson, Romania (2002-04)
October 20, 2005 Panel Discussion: