Friday, April 10, 2009

A co-ed meeting and a new project

Align CenterA view of the village, with the mosque on the left, granaries on the right, seasonal lake in the background. A clinic was not feasible, however the villagers decided that a new multi-purpose classroom is also a much-needed addition to the community.

And, newest to the list....drumroll....

New Classroom!
Here's what happened: Months ago, in December, I held a big meeting with a bunch of men to discuss potential projects I could collaborate with them on in my last year here. After brief deliberation, they decided that they wanted to try to get a clinic built here. I have no beef with that: spend five minutes here and you will see the need, which varies from mild to severe to absolute, for health care. If I started to name the ailments, accidents, and tragedies that should not have ended as such, I will never stop and this entry will become a list of sadness.

So the short story there is that I rode my bike to lots of faraway offices where fat men wearing boubous and with easy access to doctors all told me "No way, we're not putting a clinic in Foloa. Even if you build it, it won't get staffed and you'll have the same problem stocking it with medicine that all of the other clinics have." Eventually, as of last week, I stopped pushing and moved on to plan B.

Plan B meant having another village meeting. This time, I met with 100+ men and women (the co-edness of it was a point of great amusement to all involved) to discuss other, more feasible projects for my next 8 months here. It was a productive meeting- people talked, asked questions, argued, yelled, nodded, laughed, and eventually agreed. We're going to try to raise funding for a new classroom for our school. Go us! We have three existing 'real' classrooms used by about 180 students, and one millet stalk classroom used by a class of 72. (72 kids, all under the age of 8, one teacher. Try not to think about it...). So, there's a need. And there's a means:

As of March, 2009, the village has raised over 30% of the total cost of the project, more than their expected portion.
As of April 6, 2009, Peace Corps has approved a detailed proposal for raising funds through the Peace Corps Partnership Program. So here goes, folks:

If you would like to donate to the Community Classroom Project, please go to the Peace Corps Partnership listing for this project. Any money you donate is tax-deductible, and 100% of it goes towards my project. We in the community all thank you for your interest and your support.


Merry said...

YAY!! YOU GO, GIRL!! I continue to be so proud of you and the incredible love you show for your new family. I tried donating on line, but the site was down, so I'll probably go the snail mail path. I love you, Jessica!

Kerry said...

A couple of others have commented that the site was down, too. Oh no! But I tried it, and was able to donate. The donations are not immediately reflected on the website, however. Snail mail is JUST FINE though! Thanks, Merry.

Marilyn said...

I will send my donation in as soon as I get my tax refund!! This is so exciting, I can totally get behind a school :)

Erica Burman, NPCA said...

Hi Jessica,

Congrats! You're the "Peace Corps Volunteer Blog of the Day" on the National Peace Corps Association's Twitter Feed (

When you have a chance, check out our new website at and sign onto the social networking area, Connected Peace Corps. It's a great way to interact with members of the Peace Corps Community. Family and friends of Peace Corps are welcome too!



Kerry said...

Wow, Erica, thanks! There are lots of good PC blogs out there, so I know this is an honor. I hope Jessica gets a chance to get to a computer soon cuz I know she will appreciate it. And as a rpcv I will check out your new website. Thak you.

Kerry said...

What I meant was "thaNk you!"

maryse said...

Is she in Birni N'Konni??
I was in N'Guigmi in 1973-75

Kerry said...

Hi Maryse, She is in a small village between Birni N'Konni and Tahoua. I wonder how much things have changed since you were in this region. Certainly Konni has, but these little isolated towns...I don't know.