October 15, 2002 - Meadville Tribune: From Ivory Coast to Madagascar

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By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, October 15, 2002 - 4:29 pm: Edit Post

From Ivory Coast to Madagascar

Read and comment on this story from the Meadville Tribune on PCV Lori Babcock who was evacuated from the Ivory Coast and is now headed for Madagascar at:

From Ivory Coast to Madagascar*

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From Ivory Coast to Madagascar

By Jean Shanley

Meadville Tribune

Lori Babcock has a new assignment for the Peace Corps, having accepted an offer to transfer to Madagascar.

She will leave Accra, Ghana, Wednes-day and fly to Johannesburg, South Africa, where she will stay two nights before flying to Madagascar, a big island off the east coast of Mozambique in the Indian Ocean near southern Africa.

She is excited to have an opportunity to do classroom teaching again, since she will work primarily in secondary schools with students and teachers. She will have a partial teaching schedule to allow time for other development projects, she wrote to family and friends in a recent e-mail.

"I'm sure that my job description, too, is fluid and will be collaboratively defined by my new community and me. I also plan to start or restart a national Women in Development program."

The Peace Corps Madagascar program is just now reopening after being suspended for six months due to political instability in the country.

"Although one can never fully predict the trajectories of these series of events, we have been assured that Peace Corps would not be reopening the country if there were safety concerns."

Babcock will be among about 18 Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) volunteers making the transfer to reopen the country which used to have about 120 volunteers. They will undertake an abbreviated four-week training program and then she will begin two years of service in her new assignment.

"I've been trying to do a bit of research on Madagascar and it seems to be a place like no other in every possible way. It is considered part of sub-Saharan Africa, but its peoples arrived there over the past couple thousand years from southeast Asia, the Arab rim of the Indian Ocean and coastal southern Africa. It's among the most biodiverse places on Earth as well, and having split off from Africa it developed its own plant and animal species. French will be useful as Madagascar is a former French colony and we will all begin the process of learning Malagasy."

In Cote d'Ivoire she worked as a rural health education volunteer and began a number of projects and activities in her village related to maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, rural radio station presentations and education projects. She also was co-coordinator of the national Women in Development Program that provided secondary school scholarships to nearly 100 rural girls and organized activities such as girls' camps, Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and after-school tutoring.

"I was really just getting started at the moment we had to leave, and loving the country," she wrote. She added that hopefully Cote d'Ivoire will reopen in the near future and the activities will be resumed in some fashion. However, she acknowledged, that this may take time.

She doesn't think she will have much e-mail access at her new position, but encourages friends and family to write to her. Her address is: Lori Babcock, PCV, BP 620, Ambassade des Etats-Unis, Antananarivo, Madagascar.

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