September 16, 2002 - Klamath Falls Herald and News: PCV David Monschein taught carpentry and welding in Lesotho and Kenya

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Lesotho: Peace Corps Lesotho : The Peace Corps in Lesotho: September 16, 2002 - Klamath Falls Herald and News: PCV David Monschein taught carpentry and welding in Lesotho and Kenya

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 1:15 pm: Edit Post

PCV David Monschein taught carpentry and welding in Lesotho and Kenya

Read and comment on this story from the Klamath Falls Herald and News on Peace Corps Volunteer David Monschein who served in Lesotho and Kenya teaching carpentry and welding at:

Willing to travel and wanting to help*

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Willing to travel and wanting to help


David Monschein found a way to help other people through the Peace Corps.

David Monschein finds an opportunity to serve others in the Peace Corps

At 50 years old, David Monschein seemed to be at the pinnacle of his career. He already won the Northwest Home of the Year award twice. He owned a building company for more than two decades. He shifted pursuits and started a furniture business. But, he still wanted more.

"I felt like I was stagnating," he said. "I wanted to learn and move forward. I had to get out."

Although Monschein was already what he calls "semi-retired," he knew there were infinite volunteering opportunities across the world. And he knew he was willing to travel the world to volunteer.

While driving down to San Diego, he heard a presentation about the United States Peace Corps. That instant, he knew he’d found his calling.

"When I got back from San Diego, I didn’t even put down my bags," he said. "I called and said ‘I’m joining, send me information.’"

Thus the journey began. From that first phone call, Monschein received the information within days. "I looked at it and said ‘I could do this,’ " he said.

Within weeks, he started the year-long process of selling his company, his home, and all his material possessions short of some clothes and tools to get by.

While some may see this as a loss, he knew only by giving it all up would he have the world to gain.

At first, he was asked to teach carpentry and welding repairs in Jamaica. But Monschein wanted to stretch his abilities even further out of his daily job and try something new.

That was when he was called to serve in Lesotho, a country landlocked within South Africa, as a carpentry and welding teacher. After 10 weeks of training, Monschein and 26 other Peace Corps members were ready to get immersed in the culture.

Although workers ranged from 20-something to 60-plus years old, age was not a factor in their teamwork or in their efforts.

"It was a really together group," Monschein said.

Participants have to sign up for a minimum of two years, with the possibility of extending to a third year. From there, three months must be spent back home before continuing on to another country.

After teaching for five months, working part time at an orphanage, his path hit some bumps.

Monschein was attacked while out walking. Once the case went to trial, it became apparent this was a hate crime: Monschein was an unwanted visitor.

Despite his determination, he knew it was time to go home. At least for a while. Once again, he gave away what he had gathered and headed back to the United States with the Peace Corps’ agreement.

"I cried when I left," he said. "The Peace Corps volunteers really support each other."

After spending five months in Louisiana, Monschein felt the tug to return to duty.

"I had an incomplete," he said, "and I didn’t like that."

Monschein said the Peace Corps associates bent over backwards to get him back in the ring. This time, his enthusiasm carried him all the way to Kenya, a land where 18 percent of the sexually active group is known to have AIDS. He worked as an HIV Public Health Technician in Kinango Hospital near the coast.

Suddenly he was faced with not just one new language, but 42 tribes, each having 10 subdialects. This could make communication about such a sensitive topic challenging, to say the least.

With the disease rates high and the awareness low, he knew the only way to reach the people was to be open and willing to answer any questions.

He explained there are three missions of being in the Peace Corps: to take over our culture, to bring back their culture, and to experience personal growth. Monschein is confident he did all three.

He was blown away by the reactions he got to what he brought. He donated some of his used tools to the public health office in Kenya.

"They were just so jazzed," he said. "Some of it was garage sale stuff, but to them they’re like treasures."

Back in the states, he has yet another challenge to face: starting over.

Being out of the country for three years, he has to start rebuilding most of his credit history and insurance information from scratch.

"I felt I was being penalized for doing something good for the world," he said.

He wouldn’t trade his experience, though. Monschein knows despite what he may have lost back home, he has gained in other parts of the world.

"I’m very satisfied, happy, healthy and glad to be American," he said.

He is returning to the furniture business part time. But this doesn’t mean he will lose focus of keeping the public informed about AIDS. He plans to continue speaking at schools and to community groups. Although he has yet to see the long-term impact of his work, he knows the best is yet to come.

"What I did I might not see for five years," he said. "But eventually someone over there will test HIV-negative because of (my) teaching."

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



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