December 27, 2004: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Ponca City News: Amanda Dickson Helping In Paraguay Through the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Peace Corps Paraguay: The Peace Corps in Paraguay: December 27, 2004: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Ponca City News: Amanda Dickson Helping In Paraguay Through the Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Saturday, January 01, 2005 - 4:08 pm: Edit Post

Amanda Dickson Helping In Paraguay Through the Peace Corps

Amanda Dickson Helping In Paraguay Through the Peace Corps

Amanda Dickson Helping In Paraguay Through the Peace Corps

Ponca Citian Helping In Paraguay Through the Peace Corps


News Staff Writer

Peace on Earth Good Will Toward Men, is an all year strategy of the Peace Corps, and Amanda Dickson lives it on a daily basis.

Amanda, who saved her 24 days of vacation to come home to Ponca City, has been living for the past year in Paraguay. She is visiting here with her parents, Mark and Gwen Dickson, and her grandparents, Fran and Eddie Davis.

A Ponca City High School and Oklahoma State University graduate, Amanda is using her degree in agriculture economics to help better the lives of Paraguayans.

It was about a year's process to be accepted for the Peace Corps. This included getting information from the Internet, applying and having interviews. The office for this region is in Dallas.

Following Pace Corps briefings in Miami, on customs, clothing and other generalizations, she landed in Paraguay and then rode a bus five hours, got off at a sign and walked 45 minutes to get to her assigned village of San Roque. This part of the area is bordered by Argentina.

The village has a population of 355 and there are about 50 houses, all of which have electricity, but no running water. Water is from wells and it is hauled up in a bucket on a rope. Laundry done with cold water and a scrub brush, or sometimes the washing is done at the creek if the water is low in the well.

Most of the houses, according to Amanda, do not have any refrigeration and there are almost no stoves. The cooking is done "on the dirt." Among her goals is helping the villagers better cook more nutritious food.

She helps with the farmers with the crops, striving for better yields and healthier food. Food crops are beans, several varieties of corn, and all kinds of other vegetables. The foods grow naturally.

The cash crops are cotton, sesame and sugar cane. The community is very poor, Amanda says. The temperature ranges from 40 degrees in winter to 115 or 120 in the summer.

"There is no air-conditioning or heating. In the summer if you are hot you stand in the shade and in the winter if you are cold you go out in the sun," Amanda said.

The local school official has the only car in town. There is one school and it goes to the sixth grade. Transportation is by horse or by bus to other locations.

Thirty-eight Peace Corps volunteers started in the group with Amanda and four have dropped out. Each volunteer is assigned to a different location and they have their own quarters.

Missions of the Peace Corps include experiencing another culture, sharing the American culture and bettering the lives of those they are assigned to help.

Although Amanda did not grow up on a farm, she was familiar with country life through her relatives around Skiatook and Tulsa. Perhaps this led to her interest in agribusiness.

She says that working with the Peace Corps is fulfilling. "There are lots of ways to feel good. There are a lot of rewarding activities that you can do," she said.

Besides helping with the farmers, she has some secondary projects such as working with the women to help them cook better, healthier and a wider range of foods.

Almost all the families have some livestock, which includes horses, chickens, ducks, pigs and cattle. The cows are for milk so they can make cheese. They eat most of the meat and sell the pigs for income.

Another project is brushing teeth. Amanda said they do not brush their teeth. So now they have toothbrushes and toothpaste and brush once a week.

The language is Spanish or Guarani the native language. The small village has no government, no mayor or police. If they have a problem the community takes care of it and there is little crime. But Paraguay itself has two strong political parties.

The status of women is much different, as they are 100 percent subservient to the men. They stay home, clean, cook and wash. Not very often do they go out of the home. The same is true with the young women, they go to school, come home and help with the work.

One satisfying aside with the youth has been a women's soccer team, which is rare because women do not typically play soccer. "It's really rewarding to watch them play and have fun," Amanda said.

When she returned to the states Amanda treated herself to a manicure and a pedicure. Three days after Christmas she'll be heading back to Paraguay for another year of service. Following that tour of duty she would like to stay on there as a Peace Corps coordinator.

The coordinator would work in the capitol and help in the agriculture and bee sector. Also she would help new groups matching volunteers with sites and disseminating information.

Amanda has obviously grown as a person with this experience in the Peace Corps by helping fellow human beings to help themselves.
Published Sunday, December 26, 2004 on page C1 Copyright ©1998-2004 The Ponca City News

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.

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Story Source: Ponca City News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Paraguay



By Alisa ( - on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - 9:47 pm: Edit Post

I remember Mandy, ( Amanda ), from junior high and highschool. I always knew she would amount to something special. She was so intelligent, even back in junior high. But I would have never imagined she would go the distance. I admire and respect this chic for everything she is. If she ever reads this, Good Luck girl. You make us all proud.

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