June 2, 2003 - Tuscon Citizen: Crissi Barber heads for Zambia to work in wildlife conservation

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Zambia: Peace Corps Zambia : The Peace Corps in Zambia: June 2, 2003 - Tuscon Citizen: Crissi Barber heads for Zambia to work in wildlife conservation

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, June 02, 2003 - 9:34 am: Edit Post

Crissi Barber heads for Zambia to work in wildlife conservation

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Tucsonan on a mission of peace*

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Tucsonan on a mission of peace

As the Peace Corps realizes a worldwide need for more humanitarianism, volunteer Crissi Barber is beginning a challenging two-year tour in the African nation of Zambia working in wildlife conservation.

Tucsonan Crissi Barber, with a map of Africa, where she is serving in the Peace Corps.

VAL CAÑEZ/Tucson Citizen


Tucson Citizen

June 2, 2003

When Crissi Barber boarded her plane May 24, she had stowed away her packaging bubbles, little bouncy balls, crayons and paper, beads, and seeds to grow a vegetable and herb garden.

These, the Tucson woman hopes, will be effective tools of diplomacy when she meets the people of Zambia, with whom she will be working for the next two years as a Peace Corps volunteer.

"I hope they're not like, 'Who's this crazy white girl from America?' " she said.

Warnings about disease, potential civil war, the AIDS epidemic in Africa and life without plumbing or electricity have not swayed her.

"The biggest challenge is going to be being accepted into their culture. I've never had to be a minority before," she said.

Barber, 29, learned in February, while other Americans were preparing for war with Iraq, that she would be leaving on a mission of peace.

"Right now, with the events going on, more and more people are joining" the Peace Corps, said Melody Akhavan, public information specialist for the Arizona and southern California office of the organization. "We're realizing the need for humanitarian efforts all over the world."

The Corps is trying to double its 6,800-volunteer ranks within five years, Akhavan said.

And it got a big boost Tuesday when President Bush signed a law providing funding for 1,000 new Peace Corps assignments aimed at fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS.

The U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 will infuse $15 billion over the next five years to efforts in 14 African and Caribbean nations heavily affected by AIDS.

Barber is the only one of 27 Tucson volunteers to be posted in Zambia. Others are in Benin, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama, Romania, Samoa, South Africa, Togo, Ukraine and Vanuatu.

Barber's assignment - working on a wildlife conservation project in the region around Kitwe - was her second choice.

"I wanted Central America. I speak a little Spanish," she said. "But there was only one program - slaughtering live animals. No thank you. I'm a vegetarian."

Once in Zambia, Barber hopes to switch to working with children and families, a field she is well qualified for after 10 years in social services, most recently working with developmentally disabled children with the Center for the Family.

She spent the past few weeks trying to prepare herself emotionally for leaving her close-knit family and friends. But it is precisely the people she will miss the most who gave her the strength and determination to move forward on her adventure.

"If those people think I can do it, I must be able to," she said.

For more information about the Peace Corps, visit www.peacecorps.gov.

The program's regional recruiter in Tucson is Steve Cole. He can be reached by phone at 621-7188 or by e-mail at pcorps@ag.arizona.edu.

Watch the Tucson Citizen for occasional updates from Peace Corps volunteer Crissi Barber.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Zambia; Recruitment; Wildlife Conservation



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