No good idea wilts for lack of cash
From latrines to computers Peace Corps Partnership Program in Ethiopia funds a wide range of projects for PCVs
by Janet Danzl Lee (Endeber 74–76)
A PCV’S STOLEN IPOD and shoeshine boys who came to the rescue were the impetus for a Peace Corps Partnership Program grant sponsored by PCV Bridget Kelly of Gebre Guracha in early 2011. Once her tormenters, these same shoeshine boys outran her to the bus stop, caught the thief, and proudly held the recovered booty up high on the return trip through town. This unexpected gesture of heroism brought together the bullies and the bullied into an endearing relationship with shared meals and an occasional movie at Bridget’s home. Not long after, one of the boys, Dawit, became seriously ill. The boys knocked at
Bridget’s door, and Dawit was escorted to the hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia, given medication, and sent back to recuperate on the streets. After spending a sleepless night herself, Bridget embarked upon a plan to find more permanent shelter for the boys and the idea for the Kuyu Boys’ Boarding Home was born.
Keith Keyser, was also touched by the children at his site in Finote Selam who shined shoes, peddled gum or lottery tickets, or just hung out with nothing to do. He had spoken to city officials who were interested in working with him in setting up a library. He then became aware of the work that was being done in Mekelle by Peace Corps Volunteers, both current and returned, working with Yohannes Gebregeorgis and theTigray Library and Literacy Development Project. He attended the library dedication in August 2010. Fashioning a Peace Corps Partnership Program grant after the successful one developed by the Mekelle volunteers, Nicholas Strnad, Shelley McCreery, and Danielle Hoekwater, Keith embarked on a quest of his own to raise the capital needed for a library project.
These are just a few examples of eighteen projects that Peace Corps Volunteers have sponsored since Peace Corps was reintroduced into Ethiopia in 2008. Other projects include the establishment of a community mill, building neighborhood latrines, a “Second Chance Café,” a poultry farm, and reservoir construction.
The Peace Corps Partnership Program had its start worldwide in April 1964 as a mechanism for project assistance to Volunteers in their communities from U.S. donors. Today there are over 700 small-scale, community-initiated projects that cover a broad range of endeavors related to water, education, English language and learning, business, health, and agriculture. The grants provide the Volunteers with much needed financial assistance to enable them to complete the projects, and the donors are assured 100 percent of their donations support the work at hand.
Once a PCV decides to embark on a project, s/he must garner community support, which must contribute financially or in-kind at least 25 percent of the cost of the project. The PCV must then complete a lengthy proposal, which is signed by the Volunteer, community partner, and the Country Director. It is then forwarded to The Office of Private Sector Initiatives, where it is approved or returned for additional information. Once it is finalized, a summary of the project is posted on the Peace Corps Partnership web site and the PCV is allowed to solicit funds and direct donors to the site. Credit card donations are accepted and the donor immediately receives a receipt with a follow up letter from Peace Corps headquarters. The site is updated regularly and both the PCV and donors can watch the progress of the grant as the donations arrive. PCVs send out appeals to contacts via email and other social media. The use of Facebook has been quite effective in promoting the projects and soliciting funding. Although the burden is primarily on the Volunteer to raise the necessary capital, when the fund is nearing completion, the remaining amount is quickly capped off and the grant is fully funded. Special corporate grant money may be used for this purpose.
The PCPP funding is wired to the bank account of the Volunteer and then the real work begins ordering materials and supervising the project. The PCV must account for all expenses and write a final report detailing whether the goals and objectives of the project were met, the impact on the community, and future anticipated outcomes. The PCV is highly encouraged to send thank you notes to the donors and to regularly apprise donors of the progress of the project throughout.
The PCPP funding does make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of the recipients. As testimonial, each month, two sections of a three-week Introduction to Computers course is taught at the PCPP-sponsored computer lab at the Segenat Children and Youth Library in Mekelle, enabling boys and girls to receive basic knowledge of computers and computing. The classes are taught free of charge by experienced IT professionals.
To view current Ethiopia PCPP requests click on this Peace Corps link, key in “Ethiopia” and check out and support current Ethiopian projects.