February 8, 2005: Headlines: COS - Suriname: PCVs in the Field - Suriname: The Pilot: Nancy O’Connell has spent the last two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Suriname

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Suriname: Peace Corps Suriname: The Peace Corps in Suriname: February 8, 2005: Headlines: COS - Suriname: PCVs in the Field - Suriname: The Pilot: Nancy O’Connell has spent the last two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Suriname

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Nancy O’Connell has spent the last two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Suriname

Nancy O’Connell has spent the last two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Suriname

Nancy O’Connell has spent the last two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Suriname

Peace Corps: Almost Ready to Come Back to Moore County

BY NANCY O’CONNELL: Special to The Pilot

Nancy O’Connell, a Moore County resident, has spent the last two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Suriname. She shares some of her experiences with The Pilot’s readers.

Once again the holidays here in Suriname were special. Ambassador Marsha Barnes hosted the Thanksgiving meal for 54 Peace Corps volunteers.

It was a wonderful touch of home with turkey and all the trimmings, homemade pies for dessert, tables set with linen napkins and tablecloths and complemented with the beautiful fresh flowers of Suriname. Volleyball games and swimming in the pool topped off the day.

Between the holidays, I went on a day trip to the interior to see just what a rain forest looked like. It was breathtaking. I managed the climb to the top of the intermediate trail, and after a little rest, I was able to take in the view. Lake Brokopondo is huge, and the view was worth the climb. Trees were joined together all the way to the shore, with so many shades of green that it would challenge the country of Ireland. Lots of cameras were clicking to catch the beauty before us. As I made my way down the trail, I was able to stop and take photos of the flowers, the monkeys, huge spider webs, and several colorful birds. Brownsweg is the name of the National Park, and it is a popular tourist stop. Suriname does well promoting areas like this, and the guides speak very good English.

World Aids Day, actually a five-day celebration, with a 2005 theme of “Women and Girls,” was special this year because the United States Embassy contributed financially to the activities in Paramaribo. With these available funds, a group of volunteers filmed the many public service announcements that were played on four television stations all week long. The messages all had to do with womens’ rights, stigma and discrimination, and self-worth. Ambassador Barnes and President Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan were among the celebrities that gave their time, their image and their voices to the announcements. On the final day of WAD activities, there was a 5K march through downtown Paramaribo, with over 500 people taking part, led by Ambassador Barnes and First Lady Liesbeth Venetiaan-Vanenberg, the wife of the president of Suriname.

Leading up to the New Year, there was a terrorist threat that caused all of the Peace Corps volunteers and staff, as well as everyone at the Embassy, to be on a “stand fast” alert. The news of the threat was picked up by the Associated Press and was published in many newspapers. It took several days to investigate all of the rumors. The results eventually allowed us to leave our homes and return to our work places and to the Peace Corps offices. We were all so surprised that a terrorist would know where Suriname was and would have a need to cause harm to Americans living and working here.

The New Year was ushered in on a wave of fireworks. It is traditional and begins just after Christmas. Fireworks can be bought in every store and on just about every corner in Paramaribo. At midnight, the sky is ablaze with fireworks. The display lasts for over an hour. Tradition has it that people return to their homes at midnight to share in the arrival of the New Year together. My housemates and I joined our neighbors, and it was a noisy and colorful welcome to 2005.

In January I joined my housemate, Gay, and a thousand more city dwellers, in a 5K walk over the Suriname Bridge. One Sunday each year the bridge is closed to motor traffic, for four hours in the morning, to accommodate this charity event. For a nominal donation you receive an “I Walked the Bridge” T-shirt and a chance to support the local groups that look after orphans. We were at the bridge at 6:30 a.m., ready to march in the coolness of the day, accompanied by several drummer bands that helped to keep all of us in step. Cameras were everywhere, and the view from the bridge was just marvelous. It was great fun and something we will not have the opportunity to do again.

Because of flooding, this week Peace Corps Suriname volunteers have opened their homes to accommodate 24 Peace Corps Guyana volunteers, who work in or near the city of Georgetown. In three weeks, Guyana had 37 inches of rain.

Many of the Guyana volunteers lost everything. The dike broke while many of them were at their jobs, and the water was so high it ruined clothes, computers, cameras, videos, etc. Suriname volunteers have opened their homes to provide shelter and comfort. This is a first for Peace Corps worldwide, and Peace Corps headquarters in Washington is complimenting each country for how smooth the rescue mission worked.

In the midst of all of this, time needed to be found to prepare for our “Close of Service” retreat. It will be the final time that Sur-9 will all be together. We, as well as the Peace Corps, want it to be memorable. With much research it was decided that we will journey into the interior, stay at a facility that provides hammocks and beds for sleeping, as well as recreational facilities that include canoe trips, hikes through the rain forest, three meals a day, volleyball courts, fishing, and swimming.

I am sure it will be both glad and sad. Happy that we are all together and sad to say goodbye to so many wonderful friends and colleagues. The purpose of this retreat is to prepare us for our return to the States, review insurance, tie up loose ends for those going on to graduate schools and providing information for Crisis Corps Peace Corps (such as going to Thailand for six months).

I’m playing the back nine of my Peace Corps assignment, holes are running out, and I can honestly say it has been a great round so far. I trust I will come into the clubhouse of Whispering Pines even par.

Nancy O’Connell has a home in Whispering Pines. She formerly compiled The Pilot’s “Fairway Notebook.”

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 27,000 index entries in 430 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today.
Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.

February 5, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 5 2005 No: 420 February 5, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Peace Corps swears in 12 new Country Directors 4 Feb
Kenneth Hawkinson studies oral traditions of Mali 4 Feb
Tony Hall urges politicians to bring religious faith to office 4 Feb
Dodd opposes Gonzales nomination 3 Feb
Dr. Robert Zeigler to head Rice Research Institute 3 Feb
Taylor Hackford going into television with "E-Ring" 2 Feb
President Bush's past promises in State of the Union 1 Feb
Moreigh Wolf says gays cannot volunteer with partners 1 Feb
Coleman to chair Peace Corps Subcommittee 1 Feb
Vasquez assesses need in Southeast Asia 31 Jan
James Bullington says Bush Inaugural speaks to PC 31 Jan
Allen Andersson creates foundation to promote libraries 31 Jan
Joseph Opala to film "Priscilla's Homecoming" 31 Jan
Donna Shalala embarks on aggressive UM expansion 31 Jan
Thomas Dichter says Poor Countries Need Smarter Aid 30 Jan
Alberto Ibargüen to head Knight Foundation 28 Jan
Helen Sheehy organizes "Endangered Peoples" exhibit 28 Jan

RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.
RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
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: The Pilot

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Suriname; PCVs in the Field - Suriname



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