2006.08.19: August 19, 2006: Headlines: COS - Namibia: LaCrosse Tribune: Caitlin Gokey's Adventures with the Peace Corps in Namibia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Namibia: Peace Corps Namibia : The Peace Corps in Namibia: 2006.08.19: August 19, 2006: Headlines: COS - Namibia: LaCrosse Tribune: Caitlin Gokey's Adventures with the Peace Corps in Namibia

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Caitlin Gokey's Adventures with the Peace Corps in Namibia

Caitlin Gokey's Adventures with the Peace Corps in Namibia

"As a society, Namibia is on the brink of taking off, which makes volunteering here at this moment all the more exciting. Towns are beginning to form and turn into cities. Communication is slowly getting easier. A stable government is taking shape, and the economy is gradually moving forward."

Caitlin Gokey's Adventures with the Peace Corps in Namibia

Adventures with the Peace Corps in Namibia

I awake each morning to the laughter and commotion of the school children in Omaruru, Namibia.

Each night, I fall asleep to the same sounds. I walk the three kilometers from the hostel where I live to my office every morning, and I’m bombarded with greetings.

I’ve been in Namibia nearly nine months, though it feels like much longer. I can already tell that this country, these people, have affected my life in profound ways that I cannot quite explain. I am one of 58 U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in the 25th group to serve in Namibia.

They call Namibia “The Land of the Brave.” The majority of this country rests between two of the world’s largest deserts, much of which is home to species of plants and wildlife that exist nowhere else in the world.

As a society, Namibia is on the brink of taking off, which makes volunteering here at this moment all the more exciting. Towns are beginning to form and turn into cities. Communication is slowly getting easier. A stable government is taking shape, and the economy is gradually moving forward.

From the outside looking in, it’s hard to believe that Namibia has been an independent nation for just 16 short years. Once you are on the inside, however, things do feel different. Sixteen years ago, Namibians were living under the rule of apartheid, the aftermath of which is palpable. The undercurrent of racism is still present and still affects the daily lives of all people here, including my own.

As a result of apartheid, the disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor is greater in Namibia than in any other country in the world. Very few are living without want.

The United Nations AIDS agency, UNAIDS, suggests that an estimated 60 percent of the 40 million HIV-positive people in the world live in sub-Saharan Africa, with southern Africa remaining the epicenter of the global AIDS epidemic. It is often said that if you are not infected you are absolutely affected.

Like so many of its sub-Saharan neighbors, Namibia is a country plagued by AIDS. An estimated 25 percent of the population is HIV-positive. With the first cases of AIDS reported in Namibia as recently as 1986, the past 20 years have seen a phenomenal rate of growth of those infected with the virus.

In 2000, one out of every four deaths was a result of AIDS. It is estimated that by 2010, almost 150,000 children will be motherless. Even more troubling is the growing number of children themselves infected with HIV, with 15,000 infected by 2004. In a country of fewer than 2 million people, one can easily see how AIDS touches every person’s life in Namibia.

Of the 58 volunteers here, 44 of us are working in the many areas of education. As a primary teacher trainer, I work at a local Teacher’s Resource Centre, assessing the needs of teachers in my region and doing what I can to help meet those needs.

Though my job varies day to day, my primary goal over the next two years is to improve the English skills of the teachers in my area by offering literacy, phonics and English workshops, team teaching in the classroom and serving as a point of contact between the schools and the Ministry of Education.

One of my tasks over the next two years is to create a fully functional computer lab, complete with an Internet connection, and offer computer classes to local educators and community members, most of whom have never touched a computer. In order to do this, however, we must acquire at least four more computers or the funds to do so, a daunting goal that we will only attain through the help of outside sources.

I realize that for one reason or another, most people reading this will probably never set foot inside these borders to see any of these things. I also realize that many people will simply skim over this article and continue on with their lives, never giving a second thought to the parallel lives lived on this side of the globe.

However, I hope that those who do read this will feel compelled to contribute in some fashion to the people of Namibia. Every little bit helps, and please believe me no contribution goes unnoticed or unappreciated.

So ask yourself: Are you doing your part?

Comments can be sent to: C. Gokey, PCV, c/o Omaruru Teacher’s Resource Centre, Private Bag 2017, Omaruru, Namibia, Africa.

E-mail: cgokey@gmail.com (e-mail access may be infrequent)

Donations may be made through:

Sheila Garrity, 794 Shore Acres Road, La Crescent, MN 55947; cell: (612) 723-6727; e-mail: SMG1514@centurytel.net.

When this story was posted in August 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance Date: August 19 2006 No: 964 Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance
The purpose of Peace Corps' screening and medical clearance process is to ensure safe accommodation for applicants and minimize undue risk exposure for volunteers to allow PCVS to complete their service without compromising their entry health status. To further these goals, PCOL has obtained a copy of the Peace Corps Screening Guidelines Manual through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and has posted it in the "Peace Corps Library." Applicants and Medical Professionals (especially those who have already served as volunteers) are urged to review the guidelines and leave their comments and suggestions. Then read the story of one RPCV's journey through medical screening and his suggestions for changes to the process.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

The Peace Corps Library Date: July 11 2006 No: 923 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory or leave a message on our Bulletin Board. New: Sign up to receive our free Monthly Magazine by email, research the History of the Peace Corps, or sign up for a daily news summary of Peace Corps stories. FAQ: Visit our FAQ for more information about PCOL.

Gates charity races to spend billions Date: August 12 2006 No: 954 Gates charity races to spend billions
Warren E. Buffett’s gift of $31 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation means that for tax reasons, starting in 2009, the foundation must distribute $3 billion annually, or a little more than twice what it distributed last year.

PCOL Comment: The Foundation says that "preventing the spread of HIV is the most durable long-term solution to the AIDS epidemic, and a top priority for the foundation." Peace Corps Volunteers and Returned Volunteers have been doing just that in AIDS Education for the past 15 years. Why not consider a $100M annual contribution to the Peace Corps to put 2,500 additional volunteers in the field to expand AIDS education worldwide?

RPCV Ron Tschetter to head Peace Corps Date: July 29 2006 No: 937 RPCV Ron Tschetter to head Peace Corps
President Bush has nominated Ron Tschetter to serve as Director of the Peace Corps. Tschetter, 64, is the president of an investment firm based in Montana. He volunteered with his wife to work as family planning advisers in India and is a former Chairman of the National Peace Corps Association.

PCOL Comment: Congratulations to the Bush administration for an inspired choice for Peace Corps Director. Ron Tschetter is not only an RPCV but was Chairman of the NPCA. Best wishes to Mr. Tschetter on his future tenure as Director of the Peace Corps.

Latest: How Ron Tschetter was selected as Peace Corps Director.

The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again Date: July 31 2006 No: 947 The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again
The LA Times says that "the Peace Corps is booming again and "It's hard to know exactly what's behind the resurgence." PCOL Comment: Since the founding of the Peace Corps 45 years ago, Americans have answered Kennedy's call: "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." Over 182,000 have served. Another 200,000 have applied and been unable to serve because of lack of Congressional funding. The Peace Corps has never gone out of fashion. It's Congress that hasn't been keeping pace.

Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact Date: July 20 2006 No: 930 Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, the Peace Corps President, has been lobbying both Democratic and Republican legislators to support the US-Peruvian trade pact before July 28, when his term ends and a US congressional recess begins. If President Bush fails to get approval before Congress goes on recess, it will be a case study proving that the United States does not reward its friends. Please call your representatives.

July 20, 2006: This Week's Top Stories Date: July 20 2006 No: 925 July 20, 2006: This Week's Top Stories
Friedman win could create new coalition 14 July
Bellamy writes: G8 summit lacks results 19 July
Peace Corps Fund Raiser in NYC on July 25 19 July
Hodding Carter writes "Flushed" on plumbing 18 July
Doyle places Peace Corps ad 18 July
Matt Taylor releases CD "Subject to the Wind" 16 July
Matthew Orosz builds reflective parabolic troughs 14 July
RPCVs run organic HERB FARMacy 13 July
Jerome Miliszkiewicz discusses Chavez in Venezuela 12 July
Ric Haas founded the Fistula Foundation 11 July
Susan Deller Ross helps women's equal rights 11 July
Mark Maxam installs solar lighting in Kenya 11 July
Eunice Kennedy Shriver at White House for 85th 11 July
Hastings gives $1 million for charter schools 11 July
Alejandro Toledo meets Bush in final days 11 July
Hill is hopes to reconvene Korea talks 10 July
"My World" takes Tanzanian children to Kilimanjaro 9 July
Bob Watada supports his son in court-martial 8 July
James Brunton Jr. builds boat for Embera Indians 8 July
Tim Wilson sews the Seeds of Peace 8 July
Petri says Guantanamo prisoners should 'face accusers' 7 Jul
Tom Murphy cuts deal with feds 3 July

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In his new book, Former Congressman Tony Hall (RPCV Thailand) says humanitarian aid is the most potent weapon the United States can deploy against terrorism. An evangelical Christian, he is a big believer in faith-based organizations in the fight against hunger. Members of Congress have recently recommended that Hall be appointed special envoy to Sudan to focus on ending the genocide in Darfur.

PC will not return to East Timor in 2006 Date: June 8 2006 No: 913 PC will not return to East Timor in 2006
Volunteers serving in East Timor have safely left the country as a result of the recent civil unrest and government instability. Latest: The Peace Corps has informed us that at this time, the Peace Corps has no plans to re-enter the country in 2006. The Peace Corps recently sent a letter offering eligible volunteers the opportunity to reinstate their service in another country.

Chris Dodd considers run for the White House Date: June 3 2006 No: 903 Chris Dodd considers run for the White House
Senator Chris Dodd plans to spend the next six to eight months raising money and reaching out to Democrats around the country to gauge his viability as a candidate. Just how far Dodd can go depends largely on his ability to reach Democrats looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton. PCOL Comment: Dodd served as a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic and has been one of the strongest supporters of the Peace Corps in Congress.

The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan Date: June 6 2006 No: 912 The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan
Probably no RPCV has done more to further the Third Goal of the Peace Corps than John Coyne with the Peace Corps Writers web site and newsletter that he and Marian Haley Beil have produced since 1989. Now John returns to writing about his first love - golf in "The Caddie who knew Ben Hogan." Read an excerpt from his novel, an interview with the author and a schedule of his book readings in Maryland and DC this week.

Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee Date: June 3 2006 No: 905 Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee
Director Vasquez testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination as the new Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture replacing Tony Hall. He has been the third longest serving Peace Corps Director after Loret Ruppe Miller and Sargent Shriver. PCOL Comment: Read our thanks to Director Vasquez for his service to the Peace Corps.

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Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request Date: April 12 2006 No: 869 Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request
The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that Peace Corps has blocked their request for information on the Volkart case. "After the Tidings requested information pertaining to why Volkart was denied the position — on March 2 — the newspaper received a letter from the Peace Corps FOIA officer stating the requested information was protected under an exemption of the act." The Dayton Daily News had similar problems with FOIA requests for their award winning series on Volunteer Safety and Security.

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Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
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Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

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Story Source: LaCrosse Tribune

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