August 21, 2004: Headlines: COS - Nepal: PCVs in the Field - Nepal: Tampa Tribune: Retired nurse Dolores Johnson Bou-Eid is back from 27 months in the Peace Corps teaching and helping in Nepal

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nepal: Peace Corps Nepal : The Peace Corps in Nepal: August 21, 2004: Headlines: COS - Nepal: PCVs in the Field - Nepal: Tampa Tribune: Retired nurse Dolores Johnson Bou-Eid is back from 27 months in the Peace Corps teaching and helping in Nepal

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Retired nurse Dolores Johnson Bou-Eid is back from 27 months in the Peace Corps teaching and helping in Nepal

Retired nurse Dolores Johnson Bou-Eid is back from 27 months in the Peace Corps teaching and helping in Nepal

Retired nurse Dolores Johnson Bou-Eid is back from 27 months in the Peace Corps teaching and helping in Nepal

Corps Curriculum

Aug 21, 2004

Tampa Tribune

by Yvette C. Hammett

A retired nurse is back from 27 months in the Peace Corps teaching and helping.


BRANDON -- Dolores Johnson Bou-Eid boarded a plane in San Francisco with little knowledge of the place she was headed to or the challenges she would face.

"I did not want to go blindly, but I did not want my image of Nepal to be colored by what I'd learned," the 67-year-old retired clinical research nurse said weeks after returning from her 27- month adventure.

What she knew was that the time had come to fulfill a long-held dream, to join the Peace Corps and make life better for others. She volunteered to teach student nurses and was dispatched to Nepal.

Bou-Eid, a former clinical research nurse coordinator for Tampa's James A. Haley VA Medical Center, never looked back.

"What I gave to my students and what they gave me ... I believe it will make a difference."

After boarding that plane in February 2002, Bou-Eid and 55 other Peace Corps volunteers spent the next 11 weeks immersed in all things Nepali, studying the language for five hours a day and learning a new culture, a new way to dress and a new way to eat.

Born in Jamaica and educated in England, Bou-Eid married a U.S. Air Force officer and moved to Kansas in 1963. The couple settled in New Jersey, where they reared two children. Her husband died there in 1981, and she moved to Florida in 1985.

"I came to Florida after my kids went off to college, and I came here looking for a challenge," Bou-Eid said. That's when it struck her -- the Peace Corps. "But another opportunity came up I couldn't pass over."

In The Back Of Her Mind

For the next three years, Bou-Eid served as a nurse in Saudi Arabia. Still, she said, the Peace Corps lingered in the back of her mind. She began volunteering for the Caribbean Cultural Association, offering medical aid in rural Jamaica.

Bou-Eid finally mailed her application to the Peace Corps in Washington, and soon was headed for Nepal.

"The Peace Corps has been in Nepal for all of our existence," said the agency's deputy press secretary, Jennifer Borgen. The corps has about 130 volunteers serving there in small business development, helping with education and the environment and raising awareness about health care and HIV/AIDS.

Before beginning her foreign teaching career, she lived in Narayanghat, a town in the center of Nepal, for weeks of grueling training. "There were science teachers, nurses, English teachers, community health workers and water sanitation experts," she said.

After training, she and her counterparts scattered across Nepal, a country wedged between India and China and famous for its Himalayan Mountains. She ended up in a small village of several thousand people called Kshetrapur, where she found an apartment on the top floor of a Nepali family's home.

The Peace Corps gave Bou-Eid a monthly stipend, which she used for rent and groceries. The typical Nepali meal consists of dhaal bhaat (lentil and rice), taukari (a vegetable mixture) and occasionally rooti, a flat bread.

American staples were hard to come by.

"Have you ever gotten really excited about a packet of Kool- Aid?" Bou-Eid asked. "Try it some time," she said, smiling.

At least once a month, Bou-Eid and other Peace Corps volunteers would get together for a bedeshi (foreigners') evening, eating foods sent in care packages and playing Scrabble. "I'd hand out chocolate M&Ms one at a time, then give each person two for the road."

Witness To Poverty

Walking through the village, Bou-Eid often saw the children of "untouchables," the lowest rung in the caste system in Hindu countries such as India and Nepal, digging through garbage cans.

"They are so hungry and so sad," she said. "You learn to appreciate the little things. It makes you think of how much food and clothing we throw away."

All the more incentive to teach student nurses at Balkumari College, a three-year program that prepares young nurses for the realities they will face.

Bou-Eid provided "proficiency certification level training," which is similar to training to be a registered nurse but more practical.

Not every part of the odyssey was positive. With an ongoing feud between the country's monarchy and the Maoists, life in Nepal was often dangerous, Bou-Eid said.

By the end of her 27-month service, Bou-Eid said, she could see a real change, not only in her students but in her counterpart at the college who had learned better approaches to teaching.

Before leaving, she managed to get Peace Corps funding for a clinic in nearby Sukumbaassi, a rural village where the nurses would be practicing.

So instead of continuing to send the nurses out just to assess the population, they could start diagnosing illnesses and planning treatment.

Reporter Yvette C. Hammett can be reached at (813) 657-4532.

Copyright (c) 2004, The Tampa Tribune and may not be republished without permission. E-mail

When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

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