Thursday, July 15, 2010

What does a Peace Corps Volunteer do?

I've been given a job title, program, and job description, but nothing about the details of my job are clear yet, and probably won't be for a long time to come. Part of the model of Peace Corps, and any type of grassroots participatory development work, is doing needs assessments in your community and doing what the people there are interested in and need, not what your international organization deems necessary (radical thinking, I know). So the details of my work are still yet to be determined, but here is the general idea of what I'll be doing:

Program: Community Health and Economic Development (CHED)
Job Title: Agricultural Extension Volunteer
Your Primary Duties: Volunteers in our Community Health and Economic Development Program work as staff members in a variety of host organizations in Uganda. Uganda's Ministry of Health, and local and international organizations request Volunteers to assist them with developing and implementing programs with the goals of improving overall levels of community health and economic development, preventing HIV/AIDS among adults and youth, caring for orphans and vulnerable children, and supporting people living with AIDS, their families, and their caregivers. As an Agricultural Extension Volunteer it is important for you to know that more than 80% of Ugandans depend on subsistence agriculture for livelihood.

The info packet then goes on to explain a number of activities with which I could be involved with the overall goal of improving livelihoods through agriculture, especially for people affected by HIV/AIDS and youth. I'm really hoping for a livestock/animal husbandry post! However, volunteers always get involved with secondary projects, as described below:

While your primary assignment will be work in an advisory role full-time with a local host organization or government agency, there is little that goes on in your community that falls wholly outside of your role as a Community Health and Economic Development Volunteer. Your primary assignment will be the door through which you enter and initially come to know your community, allowing you to identify activities that are of interest to your community as a whole, and that further enhance your sense of fulfillment and professional development...

Oftentimes, secondary projects are among the most fulfilling to Volunteers. Such projects may include working with a local women's group to improve their health practices; teaching adults basic computer skills; teaching English or basic reading and writing to low-literacy adults in your community; setting up girls' empowerment or sports camps with students in local schools, to name a few such possible secondary activities.

Hopefully that gives you some insight into what I'll be doing! Peace Corps just sent me even more info on the first few months of training, what to bring, what to expect, etc., so I'll relay more soon! As for now, starting to pack and square away what feels like the last details. I just filled out a homestay questionnaire... it's almost here!

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