Constructing a Health Clinic in Zaire
Three years before the arrival of a PCV, the community members of Ngoma had given up hope of securing funding for their dream of constructing a health clinic. Instead, feeling discouraged that no incountry agencies had responded to their requests for help, they settled for a tiny three-room dispensary of mud and thatch to serve the 6,000-member community.
After adjusting to village life, the PCV assigned to Ngoma began to hear stories of the community's futile attempts to build a health clinic. The need for such a clinic to provide basic health services was obvious - so obvious, in fact, that the village chief had donated land for the clinic. The missing ingredient was money for building materials.
The PCV began researching the use of local, renewable building materials, and together with community leaders, wrote and submitted a proposal to the Peace Corps Partnership Program for funding to purchase the other needed materials. The money was on the way as the community elected members for a health committee to oversee the clinic's construction.
The PCV worked closely with a local reforestation project to ensure that construction did not damage the environment, educating the community about environmental concerns as well. Once built, the Ngoma Health Clinic was adopted by the Central Health Zone, which provided equipment and a trained staff.
Building a Village Elementary School in Belize
For years, this rural community in Belize had dreamed of replacing the existing school with a new building that would attract better teachers and create an environment more conducive to learning. The villagers had defined what they wanted, even a budget, and when a PCV was assigned to the community, they requested his help "even before he could remove his hiking boots."
The PCV immediately began contacting all organizations that might be sources of funds and support. He solicited building equipment from the Ministry of Agriculture, materials from the Ministry of Public Works, support from the Ministry of Education, and technical information from Peace Corps' Information Collection and Exchange. The villagers were able to build the school themselves, and thus were able to maintain the new building, which also served as a community center and school for several surrounding villages.
Completing a Medical Clinic in Tunisia
Serving her community as an agriculture extension agent working with draft animals, one PCV never expected to become involved in a secondary activity that would affect over 8,000 human lives. Years before the PCV had arrived, this high-spirited community had begun the construction of a medical clinic. Unfortunately, a devastating drought plagued the area making it necessary for the community to spend the money reserved for the construction of the clinic, just to survive.
The half-finished clinic sat in the middle of the village as a sad reminder of better days; however, optimistic community members never lost faith in their ability to accomplish their dream eventually and soon began discussing their needs with their PCV. She wrote a proposal to the Small Project Assistance program, which granted tentative approval pending the community's securing support for the recurring cost of running the clinic.
The leaders of the community began to negotiate with the local governor and reached an agreement: the government would provide a full-time nurse, weekly visits from a doctor, and supplies, while the community assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the building and the grounds.
The SPA money arrived and was used to complete the construction of the medical clinic, serving 2,000 people in the immediate area and 6,000 within a two-kilometer radius.
Constructing School Latrines in Kenya
As the number of students at a school in Kenya began to increase, the PCV assigned as a teacher there became acutely aware that more latrines were needed. Researching latrine designs at the Peace Corps in Country Resource Center, the PCV found plans for a cement-block-lined latrine that would last for 15 years with a minimum of maintenance.
After securing land from the local chief, the PCV, with the help of two local instructors, trained the students in the new latrine design. Through the construction of two latrines, students learned the importance of latrines for community health and also acquired construction skills they could use and pass on to others.
Building a Better Home in the Philippines
Feeling that the best way to teach is by example, a PCV couple decided to build themselves a better home and in that way to teach their neighbors how to build a house that would withstand the storms that regularly destroyed whole villages in the Philippines. The couple set forth certain criteria: the home needed to be weatherproof; made of locally available materials; and affordable to villagers.
Together with local artisans, the couple constructed a home that met all their criteria. In the process, they invented an improved brick-making technique and built an efficient wood-burning cooking stove - innovations that were immediately adopted by the villagers.
The true test for the community, however, was the first major monsoon season, which the couple's home weathered without a crack. "By experimenting with the natural resources that existed around them, they were able to find solutions for themselves and their neighbors."
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