March 3, 2003: Headlines: COS - El Salvador: PCVs in the Field - El Salvador: Reproductive Education: The White Lake Beacon: PCV Julia Capizzi teaches reproductive health classes in El Salvador

Peace Corps Online: Directory: El Salvador: Peace Corps El Salvador : The Peace Corps in El Salvador: March 3, 2003: Headlines: COS - El Salvador: PCVs in the Field - El Salvador: Reproductive Education: The White Lake Beacon: PCV Julia Capizzi teaches reproductive health classes in El Salvador

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 8:45 pm: Edit Post

PCV Julia Capizzi teaches reproductive health classes in El Salvador

PCV Julia Capizzi teaches reproductive health classes in El Salvador

Whitehall woman learns culture of El Salvador through Peace Corps

By:Debra Carte, Beacon staff writer March 03, 2003

The poverty is extreme in the Central American country of El Salvador.

But Whitehall native Julia Capizzi will leave there and the Peace Corps one year from now rich with the friendships and knowledge she's now acquiring.

"I've changed and I've learned a lot," said Capizzi during a two-week visit home the end of January. "It's been worth it. It's expanded my world views. Most people in the world don't live the way we do. It has opened up my eyes."

Capizzi, a graduate of Whitehall High School and Western Michigan University, left for El Rodeo, a mountainous village in El Salvador, one year ago to begin a two-year assignment. Her assignment is to live among the people, learn of their culture, share of her own culture, and teach reproductive health classes.

Though experiencing the poverty of El Salvador on a daily basis is hard, it's not what's hardest for Capizzi.

"It's the Spanish," said Capizzi, "and being away from my little sisters."

Capizzi is overcoming her Spanish obstacle by "living and breathing" the language. As for her little sisters, 16-year-old Abby and 12-year-old Becky, they'll have to wait one more year to have their big sister back, but Capizzi is far from lonely in El Salvador.

She lives among a three-house compound with Tila, the head of the household; her three children, Daniel, 25; Carlos, 16; and Mirian, 7; and Tila's brother who gave up his house for Capizzi.

Capizzi said the family is very respectful of her and extremely accommodating - almost too accommodating.

"You only walk 10 minutes to buy vegetables," said Capizzi, "but someone always goes with me - not for safety, but they thought I would be lonely."

Capizzi said the Salvadoran's communal culture is quite a contrast to America's individualistic society. The families are large and live, eat and work together.

And the work is hard. Capizzi said since there is no running water, she and the villagers must carry water from a natural spring twice a day - in a cantero, a large plastic jug filled with water, on your head - uphill.

And then there's the laundry.

"You walk 10 minutes downhill, wash your clothes on a rock with a bar of soap, and then walk back uphill with wet clothes on your head slipping and sliding with your flip flops on," said Capizzi.

Capizzi said it was taking her an entire day to complete just one chore. It wasn't until recently she was able to achieve what was for her a major victory.

"There was one day I was able to do the laundry, fix walls, do the dishes, cook, get prepared for school, and conduct some home visits," said Capizzi. "I was so happy I was so productive. But I felt like a nap afterwards."

The reproductive health class Capizzi teaches is a very challenging, but important aspect of her stay in El Salvador. Though the class is geared toward 6th graders, ages of the students range from 12 - 24.

Capizzi said HIV and AIDS are on the increase in Latin America - the result of a very dominant machismo culture.

"For young girls, assertiveness is a foreign concept," said Capizzi. "They don't verbalize their needs or stand up for the rights of their bodies."

She said unemployment rates are astronomical with many single mothers with no income at all. They live off of the beans and corn they grow.

Capizzi is attempting to aid some of those single mothers. One of those is Rosita. She has 10 children and no income. Capizzi is attempting to sell her handmade bamboo baskets to those in the White Lake area who would like to help. The baskets are circular, about 10 inches in diameter, with or without lids. Capizzi said orders can be placed with her mother, Kris, by calling 894-6284.

Capizzi said all profits will go to Rosita and other women like her.

Other important projects coming up for this year in her village include a water project and the purchase of stoves which cost $5 each.

"If a family would use less wood, they'd be healthier," said Capizzi. "Now they use fire wood on campfires and there's a lot of smoke. It causes upper respiratory diseases and uses up a lot of wood."

The water project, said Capizzi, is a much bigger and more expensive and complicated project. Capizzi is hoping family and friends in the White Lake area will consider organizing community rummage sales and forward proceeds to the Peace Corps for El Salvador.

For further information, contact Capizzi at

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.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: The White Lake Beacon

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - El Salvador; PCVs in the Field - El Salvador; Reproductive Education



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.