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Tony Baker heading to Tanzania
Tony Baker heading to Tanzania
Jackson resident joins Peace Corps
By Chris Pagano ~ Southeast Missourian
Jackson, Missouri - Tony Baker of Jackson left the United States for Tanzania, Africa, on Oct. 1 to serve for 27 months as an environmental worker with the Peace Corps. His work will include promoting sustainable techniques for soil conservation and rehabilitation, environmental education and HIV/AIDS education.
Baker graduated magna cum laude from the University of Missouri-Columbia in May with a bachelor of arts in religious studies and a bachelor of arts in philosophy.
Before departing for Tanzania, Baker attended a two-day Peace Corps registration in Washington, D.C., where in addition to completing administrative requirements and receiving travel information and documents, he was immunized and briefed on health and safety.
His training site is at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. Successful training is a prerequisite to becoming a volunteer, and training lasts from eight to 12 weeks. The Peace Corps emphasizes integration of technical, cross-cultural, personal health and safety training components. Baker will be learning Swahili and agricultural skills such as beekeeping, forestry and fisheries. He will also be involved in a girls' empowerment project, Habitat for Humanity building projects and will organize Mount Kilimanjaro climbing expeditions.
With an 80-pound weight limit on baggage, Baker's army backpack weighed about 60 pounds. According to his mother, Judy Baker, about half that weight was from books. Part of his spare time will be spent reading. A medical kit is supplied and restocked periodically. Baker bought a shortwave radio to keep in touch with the outside world.
Baker will be living in a village in northern Tanzania without running water or electricity. All water must be purified.
Baker's goal is to help feed world hunger. If all goes well he intends to serve in UNESCO, the United Nations volunteer corps, and ultimately work with Oxfam, a 12-nation coalition that fights hunger, poverty and injustice. Giving as much help as he possibly can to those in the most need is his life goal.
He left Sept. 29 for Washington, D.C., after having 10 inches of his hair cut off to donate to Locks of Love. His mother, who cut it for him, said, "Tony was so happy to be able to help another person." With no running water at the Tanzanian village where he will be living, Baker will probably keep a beard and mustache.
Since March 1, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps, more than 155,000 Americans have joined the Corps in 134 nations. Currently more than 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 77 countries, working to bring clean water to communities, teach children, help start new small businesses and stop the spread of AIDS.
© 2003, Southeast Missourian. This story was posted on the site Thursday, October 9, 2003. Send a Speak Out comment or a Letter to the Editor.