The Fun That Was Peace Corps Guyana - Mark's Blog

Postings from just north of the equator. Let's see if training in CPR and First Aid prepares me to teach Health Education in a small, remote village in Guyana. I'm thinking... no. Read all about this ill advised decision! In addition, here is the required Peace Corps disclaimer: "The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps." So, please, don't confuse me with the White House Press Secretary.

Monday, February 05, 2007

My Life Has Meaning! Maybe...

So in my quest to find secondary projects, Patty (another Peace Corps volunteer) and I have been teaching Life Skills at New Opportunity Corps. NOC, as it is known, is basically a juvenile detention center for kids ages 10 to 18. With around 130 kids, it teaches regular classes, but focuses more on vocational training for the older kids, like agriculture, wood-working, metal shop, electrical work, etc. There are a lot of opportunities for these kids, at least in theory. Of course, there are a lot of problems too.

So... a few weeks ago my PC boss came out to see NOC. But he also brought the US Ambassador, a bunch of US Embassy staff, and some USAID people. NOC rolled out the red carpet for them. I'll save you the details (though it was a good visit), but basically Peace Corps wants to put a volunteer there and collaborate with NOC on doing some agriculture projects. And that's where Patty and I step in.

We've met with some USAID people and some Guyanese agriculture organizations. And basically we want to start two projects at NOC. The first is to grow some small beds of new crops in Guyana - broccoli, cauliflower, squash, etc. These would be tests to see how well these would grow in Guyana. NOC could then sell them to supermarkets in Georgetown that cater to the foreign crowd (Guyanese people don't eat these things. I had to explain to some of my students what broccoli is). We also want to start some tilapia fish ponds to feed the kids and make a little money on the side. Both of these projects are strongly supported by PC, the US Embassy, USAID, and some Guyanese organizations. NOC doesn't have to invest much, except land (which they have) and manual labor (which they have). And the monies raised by this could be re-invested into future projects, such as computers or something (we're thinking about that stuff too - I have lots of good ideas for NOC).

So suddenly I feel like I have a real, honest-to-goodness Peace Corps project to work on. We're still at the beginning stages, but I'm feeling confident that this will work. And if its successful, then future projects will also be it the works.

Okay, so all this has been the result of the meeting at NOC. After that meeting, the whole group (about 15 people) came over to my house for lunch. My host mom cooked some awesome food (which is just normal to me now - hehe) that everyone liked. Plus, it was kinda cool to have the US Ambassador (real nice guy) come over and see my home and my family. And one of the Embassy guys offered us Cricket World Cup tickets (awesome!) gave us a standing invitation to come over to his place for his weekly dinner parties. I really like Guyana for this reason. It's a small country, so the Embassy people are real cool and like to be nice to us Peace Corps volunteers. The Ambassador lets us swim at his pool whenever we want. The head of the CDC down here invites us over for Peace Corps-only dinners. It's pretty awesome. They like to hear what life is like outside Georgetown. And we like their food and wine. It's a very symbiotic relationship.

So life is good enough down here. I'm feeling refreshed for the new year. I have some projects on the horizon. I've got traveling to do (Carnival in Trinidad!). And I'm still enjoying the hammocks and books. So life is alright...


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