The work of an Peace Corps Volunteer can be difficult to explain (as well mocked in this video), and I often get asked what exactly it is that I do here. I’ve been doing a little organizing the last few days, so I thought I’d share a few of the projects I’ll be working on this month:
1) Water Quality Assessments/Lessons with Middle School Students: Molly and I took nine water samples from various places around my town in late December; hopefully the results will be coming back from the health department soon. Then we’ll partner with a science teacher from the school to teach the lesson (and this is not a requirement for him, so if he doesn’t want to I get to try to teach the lesson). We’ll talk about where the water is coming from, sources of contamination, why uncontaminated water is good, and ways to prevent contamination. Hopefully we can do lessons for all the classes in the middle school.
2) English Club at the Middle School: This is another thing I’m working on with Molly – we discussed English Club with the administrator of the school in December, but due to various things (as happens) it hasn’t gotten off the ground yet. School is currently on a winter break, but it will resume Wednesday – hopefully we can resurrect this idea and start doing English Club next Tuesday.
3) Earth Day Planning with both Middle and Elementary Schools: Granted, Earth Day isn’t for a few more months, but I know a few other volunteers are planning with schools and youth centers already, so I’m hoping to talk to the administrators of both schools this week to see if they want to start planning as well. Earth Day activities could include things such as art projects, murals, environmental trivia contests, environmentally themed skits, garden/tree planting, etc.
4) Organizing a Meeting to form a Rosemary Cooperative: This is something the Ministry of Water and Forests (DWF) wants me to do. I’ve been talking to people in my town and Molly’s, and I’m hoping to have them do most of the legwork on this – I want to make sure we have all the proper people present (rep. from DWF, rep. from the government branch that forms coops) and that only people from the community interested in participating in the coop as officers (rather than everyone from the community) are there. It’s a little slow, but I’m hoping it can all be arranged.
5) Finding Women Leaders in town for a Women’s Association: This is a very tea based goal, as in I am going to need to resume wandering around with the goal of meeting new people by tea invitation. I tried to hold a community meeting in the way everyone told me I should – talk to the Khalifa, get a room at the Xiria (sort of like a boarding house for the middle school – it has a big room good for meetings), and have the town crier announce it. Women told me they’d come, and then they didn’t. I’m taking a new approach – I want to find at least one woman in each neighborhood who is actively interested in taking a leadership role, and then have the 3-5 of them arrange a community meeting. This is a much longer approach, but I think it will work better in the end. The women don’t necessarily want an ‘association’, per se, but they talk to me about wanting preschools for their children, literacy classes for women, and income generating opportunities. These are all things a women’s association can provide, so I’m really hoping that, with persistence, this idea will work.
6) Meeting with new Agricultural Associations: The Ag department recently swooped into town and created Associations in my town, Molly’s town, and Eric’s town. The main goals of these associations, as far as I’m aware, is erosion control along the rivers and improving ditches (which are very, very important here). I would love to help them with tree and bamboo planting along the rivers, if possible, so I’m hoping to attend the next meeting they have, both in my town and Molly’s town. We’ll see what happens from there.
7) Research about Solar Ovens: Deforestation is a major environmental problem in my area, and there are organizations and government agencies in Morocco that are working with the idea of solar cooking as a way of reducing firewood consumption. I’d like to learn more information to see if anything available would be a feasible option in my town – even those who have switched to butane based ovens (the richer families) are spending quite a bit of money on butane and would be interested in alternatives.
8) Creating a project plan for a GLOW Camp: GLOW stands for Girls Leading Our World, and is a Peace Corps initiative in many PC countries. I’ve been tossing around the idea of creating a camp for middle school girls in my region this summer, and there are a few other PCVs possibly interested in helping after they complete a major project of theirs in late February. I’m hoping to have looked through the vast amount of materials on GLOW Camps and have a basic camp outline including cost and staffing factors to consider by late February in order to have a starting point for a GLOW Camp discussion.
Of course, none of these ideas are guaranteed to pan out – not even the water quality lessons, for which over half of the work is already finished. These are simply the projects which I have scheduled time for and set goals for myself to work on this month.