2008.05.28: May 28, 2008: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: Older Volunteers: Sycamore Journal: Kay Oursler joined the Peace Corps and spent more than two years in the small Tanzanian village of Uhekule

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tanzania: Peace Corps Tanzania: Peace Corps Tanzania: Newest Stories: 2008.05.28: May 28, 2008: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: Older Volunteers: Sycamore Journal: Kay Oursler joined the Peace Corps and spent more than two years in the small Tanzanian village of Uhekule

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Kay Oursler joined the Peace Corps and spent more than two years in the small Tanzanian village of Uhekule

Kay Oursler joined the Peace Corps and spent more than two years in the small Tanzanian village of Uhekule

“I was really happy to go to Tanzania,” Oursler said. “I knew there were great needs over there.” Just how many needs existed was driven home after Oursler made the days-long voyage to the village of 1,450. Having barely passed the Peace Corps exam on Swahili, she found herself alone on a new continent and in a village where only a few people could speak basic English. Eager to get to work, she ignored the Peace Corps policy of workers spending weeks just getting to know the population. “My Swahili wasn’t good enough to mingle with anyone,” Oursler said with a laugh. “So, I went to work.” Her first project was teaching 12 of the ‘mamas’ in the village how to make jam. Working with them in her home for weeks, she taught the women how to make jams that they would sell in larger cities. As the women canned, Oursler was doing the marketing. As the village got to know her, Oursler began larger projects. Writing grant proposals and asking friends and family back home for donations, Oursler helped build a clinic and library for the village.

Kay Oursler joined the Peace Corps and spent more than two years in the small Tanzanian village of Uhekule

Genoa grad finds purpose in African aid

By BENJAMIN STECKLER - bsteckler@chroniclenewsgroup.com

Caption: Genoa High School graduate Kay Oursler (right) has spent the past few years in Tanzania as a Peace Corps volunteer. She returned to Genoa last week for her 50 year class reunion.

SYCAMORE – Kay Oursler was going through a transition at age 64.

A mother and career woman for most of her adult life, the Genoa native found herself retired, her marriage over and her children busy with families of their own.

That’s when she decided her retirement would include some of the hardest, and most important, work of her life.

Oursler joined the Peace Corps and spent more than two years in the small Tanzanian village of Uhekule.

Back in Genoa last week for her 50th class reunion, she reflected on the time she spent in Africa and the work she still has before her.

“I was really happy to go to Tanzania,” Oursler said. “I knew there were great needs over there.”

Just how many needs existed was driven home after Oursler made the days-long voyage to the village of 1,450. Having barely passed the Peace Corps exam on Swahili, she found herself alone on a new continent and in a village where only a few people could speak basic English.

Eager to get to work, she ignored the Peace Corps policy of workers spending weeks just getting to know the population.

“My Swahili wasn’t good enough to mingle with anyone,” Oursler said with a laugh. “So, I went to work.”

Her first project was teaching 12 of the ‘mamas’ in the village how to make jam. Working with them in her home for weeks, she taught the women how to make jams that they would sell in larger cities. As the women canned, Oursler was doing the marketing.

As the village got to know her, Oursler began larger projects. Writing grant proposals and asking friends and family back home for donations, Oursler helped build a clinic and library for the village.

But one of her proudest moments was a creating a simple garden. In an attempt to improve the villagers’ nutrition she started a community garden, but those most in need of the vegetables – the village’s many AIDS victims – were unable to work in the fields due to the stigma of being afflicted with the disease.

At Oursler’s urging, that changed.

“One of my biggest days was when 10 mamas came into my field ready to work,” she said.

Back in America, Bibi Kay, as she’s called in her village, is thinking of her next trip to Tanzania and all the work that still must be done.

She is in the process of finding funding so she can build a 100-bed orphanage in her village.

But whether it’s planting a simple garden or building an orphanage, Oursler said she wants to be there with her new-found family in Tanzania.

“The people are very special,” she said. “They have nothing but they are marvelous people. I can’t wait to get back there.”

How to help

Genoa native Kay Oursler is seeking donations for her African relief effort. She will give a presentation later this summer in Genoa on the need but is accepting donations now.

To give to Oursler’s foundation send a check or money order care of Bibi Kay to Praecavemus Foundation, 128 Wilder Ave., Los Gatos, California 95030. All donations are tax deductible.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: May, 2008; Peace Corps Tanzania; Directory of Tanzania RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Tanzania RPCVs; Older Volunteers





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Story Source: Sycamore Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tanzania; Older Volunteers

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