Dan Wagner's Personal Peace Corps Journal from the Central African Republic

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 2:55 pm: Edit Post

Dan Wagner's Personal Peace Corps Journal from the Central African Republic

Dan Wagner's Personal Peace Corps Journal from the Central African Republic

Dan Wagner's Personal Peace Corps Journal from the Central African Republic

While a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer stationed in the Central African Republic, Dan kept a private journal of his experiences. Actual stories of his time in the Peace Corps can be found within the pages of this on-line version of his journal. Click on the link below to enter the journal. You can also page through the journal using the directional guide located on the bottom of each story -- or you can download a Microsoft Word version of the entire journal to read off line.

Initially, Dan was sent to the C.A.R. to work on bee keeping projects. Bee keeping can be a relatively inexpensive way for people in remote villages to make a good income. Honey from Central Africa is among the most flavorful in the world and the wax produced by the aggressive "Africanized" bees is in high demand by the European cosmetics and medical supply industries. As an apiculture volunteer, Dan was among a group of Americans hoping to develop a means to get these valuable products from remote villages to prospective buyers. All proceeds from the transactions would directly benefit the villagers themselves.

Dan was asked to produce a series of nationally broadcast radio programs on bee keeping and other agriculture topics. The logic behind this was to transmit knowledge to as many remote Central Africans as possible so the bee keeping & agriculture volunteers also stationed in remote villages could tune into the programs and enhance their own lessons. Additionally, Dan produced a series of accompanying educational visual aids which resembled comic books. Experience has found that visual materials like this are the best way to educate people in the underdeveloped world. Eventually, Dan was asked to produce videos in Central Africa (on a volunteer basis) for the United Nations, non-governmental organizations like V.I.T.A. as well as the World Bank. His video "secondary projects" for groups associated with the Peace Corps were a welcomed surprise for Dan... but were seen by local Peace Corps managers as stretching outside his job description. It was this discrepancy that caused Dan to return from Central Africa in 1989.

The Central African Republic is a land-locked nation located in the geographic center of the African continent. Nearly two million people live in C.A.R. many of whom have migrated there from neighboring countries experiencing civil disturbances. Some have moved South from the Sahara Desert in search of a more reasonable climate... while others have moved North from the tropical rain forests. The Central African Republic is roughly the size of Texas. The are under 200 telephones in the country. The 60 miles of paved roads in C.A.R. are pocked with chuck-holes the size of suitcases... mud roads oftentimes have ruts two to five feet deep. All roads outside the capital city, Bangui, are made of mud.

For the most part, the Central African Republic is comprised of African savannah... dry, barren land with thick red soil which turns the whole environment a reddish hue in the dry season. When mixed with rain, the same red earth makes the country's mud roads more slippery than ice. The inability to transport goods to remote markets is the heart of most problems in the Central African Republic.

This land of harsh realities (cannibalism, droughts, sickness etc.) was a drastic change from Dan's home in Palm Beach County, Florida. It was by going from being surrounded by the wealthiest people on Earth -- to living with the poorest -- that Dan learned we all have the same basic needs as humans; to be loved -- and to have & hold each other.

You are invited to read the following personal journal entries to see what the Peace Corps experience was like for one volunteer who broke away from the pack to experience the world -- as it really is for billions of people.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Central African Republic



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