September 14, 2003 - AARP: Linda Robinson was assigned to the West African nation of Senegal

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Senegal: Peace Corps Senegal : The Peace Corps in Senegal: September 14, 2003 - AARP: Linda Robinson was assigned to the West African nation of Senegal

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 2:07 pm: Edit Post

Linda Robinson was assigned to the West African nation of Senegal

Linda Robinson was assigned to the West African nation of Senegal

Four years ago Linda Robinson took the challenge that had drawn her since college days: She joined the Peace Corps at age 49. With her background in chemistry and public health, she felt she had much to offer a developing country. One of a growing number of older volunteers, Robinson was assigned to the West African nation of Senegal.

There she met a young man who was afflicted with albinism; he was in his mid-20s and had just graduated from high school–a rare achievement for someone with this condition in Senegal.

"Since people with albinism suffer from impaired vision, many drop out of school and wind up as street beggars," says Robinson. Albinism is a condition caused by a recessive gene; it results in deficient pigmentation. People with albinism are ostracized in Senegal, Robinson says, and even discussion of the subject is taboo.

Robinson helped found a national organization, l'Association Nationale des Albinos du Senegal (l'ANAS), and established communication with a similar group in the U.S. She and l'ANAS members organized a seminar to educate the public on albinism, and as a result the Senegalese government donated land for a new community center for l'ANAS, which was named Robinson House. Robinson says that the days of bucket baths, missing her grandchildren, and fighting through language barriers to help the sick were more than worth it."I felt that I had changed some lives," she says.

Robinson's work is an example of the kinds of contributions that older Peace Corps volunteers make. This year, nearly 7 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are 50 and older–the result of changing demographics in the nation, according to Peace Corps press director Brendan Daly."We found that a lot of Baby Boomers who wanted to join the Peace Corps right after college, but did not, can now retire early, join the Peace Corps, and then start another career," he says.

Assignments often require sacrifices. In addition to learning a new language, volunteers may have to adjust to harsh weather and acquire a taste for unfamiliar foods." If you're not flexible, outgoing, and adaptable," Robinson says, "then the Peace Corps is not for you."

To contact Robinson, e-mail her at Visit the Peace Corps Web site at www., or call 800-424-8580.

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Story Source: AARP

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Senegal; Older Volunteers



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