The Peace Corps has been dedicated to changing the world for over five decades. From fighting HIV/AIDS to improving access to technology in remote communities, Peace Corps volunteers are part of something big.
So many of them take their experiences with volunteering through the Peace Corps and build upon them with their own projects, continuing a legacy of dedication to making the world a better place.
Let’s take a look at some specific ways that the Peace Corps (and, more specifically, the volunteers who make up this program) have dedicated themselves to making a difference…
Improving women’s health in Senegal
The reproductive health of Senegalese women is a national issue. In 2014, a Peace Corps volunteer took the initiative to provide a three-day training of women’s health extension workers.
A grant of $1,000 was awarded for the development of the program, and another $350 was donated through the community. Using that funding, 17 “matrones” received training in reproductive health, helping to increase access to family planning services for 11,000 people across the Salémata District of Senegal.
Creating language courses with Duolingo
Political unrest in Ukraine in 2014 forced 200 Peace Corps volunteers to abandon their work there. But they didn’t give up on making a difference.
Volunteers formed a partnership with Duolingo to do their part from home, developing a “Ukrainian for English-Speakers” course and an “English for Ukrainian-Speakers” course.
Duolingo is a tech company that makes apps for language learning. This partnership was mutually beneficial, as Peace Corps volunteers produced a language program that the app needed, and one that would help them with their work in Ukraine. Future Peace Corps volunteers in the Ukraine will benefit from increased communication skills during their time there with the help of this Duolingo program.
Providing education to girls in Liberia
Peace Corps volunteer Charlene Espinoza noticed something unsettling when she began teaching in Liberia. So many women were not going to school. She knew she had to do something about it.
Bosh Bosh was her solution — teaching girls to sew patchwork bags that they then sold to support their education. Today Bosh Bosh focuses on education, providing scholarships, workshops, community, and support for women in Liberia.
Charlene hopes to launch Bosh Bosh Mexico someday, and continue this work of helping to educate women through a global, ethical fashion brand.
Generating income for female artists in Peru
Weaving is the longest standing, pre-hispanic tradition in Peru, making modern weavers the heirs to a sacred craft. The oldest textiles ever found were pulled from the pre-Columbian temple, Huaca Prieta, and are thought to be about 4,000 years old.
Peace Corps volunteer Brookly Adelman is helping female Peruvian artisans to keep that tradition alive, while also earning an income with their craft through Women’s Empowerment and Income Generating activities.
Once a week, the women gather to work — learning everything from market research to product development from visiting specialists and regular teachers. They’ve all learned how to make bracelets, and have incorporated these new products into their collections.
With the help of Peace Corps volunteer, the twelve women involved in the program are learning new ways to generate income, while also carrying on the tradition of arts and crafts in Peru.
Peace Corps Volunteers help combat Malaria, photo via peacecorps.gov
Fighting Malaria in Matam region
The population in Northern Senegal has little to no immunity against the Malaria virus. To assist the fight against Malaria in this region, volunteers completed a Malaria tour during the rainy season, when transmission is highest. They visited eight sites to teach about Malaria prevention and how to recognize symptoms.
Between 2000 and 2012, malaria mortality rates decreased worldwide by 49% — but there is still work to be done to continue educating people about the dangers and prevention of this debilitating disease, and Peace Corps volunteers are working hard to combat this issue.
Continuing to Fight for an AIDS-Free Generation
AIDS is a world-wide crisis that has been destroying lives for decades, but Peace Corps volunteers have made a huge difference in educating people and improving the situation in the 26 countries hit hardest by the epidemic. Over 58% of volunteers worldwide are dedicated to HIV-related activities, and the fight won’t stop until we see an AIDS-free generation.
Peace Corps is a key partner in PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) — the largest commitment of any nation to combating a disease. Since its inception in 2003, Peace Corps volunteers have been on the ground, helping communities through public health education.
Peace Corps volunteers have led community-health classes, mass HIV-testing, and community support during times of crisis. Their impact has been great so far, and new volunteers continue to join the Peace Corps and further the progress being made against HIV/Aids.
Developed Volunteer Trips through Discover Corps
Andrew Motiwalla has always been fascinated by culture and travel. But it wasn’t until his time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras that he decided he would dedicate himself to helping others explore these passions.
Andrew traveled to a small town of only 500 people in Honduras to help with farming. As a city boy from Chicago, he didn’t actually know much about farming, but quickly learned the value of community immersion and cultural exchange. He learned how to work with the locals — people that had been farming for centuries — to help support a plan that would work for them.
This immersive travel experience inspired Andrew to show other people the value of experiencing other cultures. He wanted to change the way people think about volunteer travel. So he took his experience in the Peace Corps and his love of travel and combined them to start Discover Corps — providing access to socially-conscious volunteer trips to all kinds of people.
The Peace Corps continues to bring communities and dedicated volunteers together to combat issues and support those who need a helping hand around the world. Peace Corps volunteers learn the importance of service and go on to spread their values to their own communities and projects. It is a truly special program and here at Discover Corps, we are honored to work them through our Next Step Travel program. -Britany Robinson
BIO: Britany Robinson is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her works appears in BBC Travel, Mashable, The Daily Dot and more. Her blog, Travel Write Away, shares advice and musings on travel writing. When she’s not planning her next big trip, she’s scoping out Portland craft beers and local hikes.