August 12, 2002 - TheDay: PCV Allyson Lachowicz heads for Mozambique

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mozambique: Peace Corps Mozambique : The Peace Corps in Mozambique: August 12, 2002 - TheDay: PCV Allyson Lachowicz heads for Mozambique

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 1:01 pm: Edit Post

PCV Allyson Lachowicz heads for Mozambique

Read and comment on this story from TheDay - Eastern Connecticut's Information Source - on Allyson Lachowicz shown in the photo above who is leaving for Mozambique to teach biology or earth science at:

Peace Corps challenge, opportunity for young woman from Ledyard*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Peace Corps challenge, opportunity for young woman from Ledyard

By Katrina T. Gathers

Allyson Lachowicz is leaving the comforts of her Ledyard home to join the Peace Corps.

Ledyard –– Allyson Lachowicz has no misconceptions about the two years she plans to spend in the Peace Corps.

She will teach biology or earth science to young students in the developing country of Mozambique, which sprawls along the southern tip of Africa and slightly up the eastern coast. She knows she will live and work in a small community in the country, which is about twice the size of California, but won't know where until she arrives in Africa.

“I know I'll have clean water, but I don't know about electricity,” she said. “I'll have a roof on my house, but it'll probably have rats in it. When you're going to a developing country you have to get used to not having the usual amenities and comforts.”

She acknowledges there are dangers.

Although no volunteers have been raped or murdered during the five years the Peace Corps has been in Mozambique, according to Lachowicz, the country is plagued by AIDS, land mines that disfigured many people and the chance of being kidnapped.

Lachowicz likely won't see a dentist during her stint, but will be given a host of drugs, from birth control pills to vitamins. A nurse will live in the community, but doctors are only available in the capital city of Maputo, which could be one or six hours away, depending on where she lives.

She will bring along her Mace and scrutinize every piece of clothing before she packs it. She will never travel alone.

“I wanted to see how the majority of the world lives and I also wanted to learn about myself, what kind of endurance I have and what I will be able to accomplish with very few resources,” she said.

Teachers in Mozambique are lucky if they have chalkboards in their classrooms, according to Lachowicz. Most classes have one book that the teacher uses. Students sit on the floor because there are no desks.

Mozambique was formerly a Portuguese territory that gained its independence in 1975. The country, known for its beautiful beaches, recently ended a 14-year civil war and will have an election in 2003. Its population is estimated at 11.6 million. Its language is Portuguese.

The country has a rainy season and two peak flooding periods, one in November and December and a second in February and March. In early 2000, the Mozambican government and United Nations agencies launched a joint appeal for $65 million to repair damaged infrastructure and carry out humanitarian operations following two weeks of floods. Lachowicz hopes to be a part of the country's rebuilding process.

Established in 1961, the Peace Corps enables volunteers skilled in teaching, construction and other specialties to assist people in undeveloped and developing areas.

A 1997 Ledyard High School graduate, Lachowicz earned her bachelor's degree in 2001 from the University of Maine. She is working as a genetic researcher at Yale Medical School, seeking insights into such neuropsychiatric disorders as autism and Tourette's syndrome.

She will leave Oct. 2 for an as yet unknown city, where she will get two days of training with other volunteers on safety and political, social and religious issues. She will leave Oct. 5 for Africa, where she will begin three months of training, a process that weeds out many volunteers.

Lachowicz underwent a rigorous two-year application process, which prevented her from making any long-range plans and involved extensive checks of her personal and medical history. At one point, her application was deferred because of a medical problem.

“They don't want to put you someplace and you not have any resources,” to help you, she said. “They check up on everything.”

Lachowicz recently earned her scuba diving certification and wants to do some rock climbing during her Peace Corps stint. Her parents, Bruce and Cynthia Douglass, are planning to visit her in Africa, but she'll bring a photo album and plenty of music to ward off homesickness.

“I'm excited,” she said. “I've got a lot of ambition to prove to myself that I can do this and to prove to others who don't think I can. Either I'll love it or hate it. I'm not sure if there is a middle ground.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; PCVs in the Field; COS - Mozambique



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