2010.07.08: July 8, 2010: In 1994, Debra Millar became a Peace Corps Medical Officer and over the next decade, she served the Peace Corps in its efforts in several African countries, including helping it start new programs in Eritrea and Mozambique

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Eritrea: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Eritrea : 2010.07.08: July 8, 2010: In 1994, Debra Millar became a Peace Corps Medical Officer and over the next decade, she served the Peace Corps in its efforts in several African countries, including helping it start new programs in Eritrea and Mozambique

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In 1994, Debra Millar became a Peace Corps Medical Officer and over the next decade, she served the Peace Corps in its efforts in several African countries, including helping it start new programs in Eritrea and Mozambique

In 1994, Debra Millar became a Peace Corps Medical Officer and over the next decade, she served the Peace Corps in its efforts in several African countries, including helping it start new programs in Eritrea and Mozambique

In 1994, she became a Peace Corps Medical Officer, which meant caring for Peace Corps Volunteers, starting with training them on how to stay healthy in environments where it is all too easy to come in contact with malarial mosquitoes and unsanitary food and water. It also meant responsibility for evaluating indigenous medical systems and deciding when sick or injured volunteers needed to be shipped back to the U.S. Over the next decade, she served the Peace Corps in its efforts in several African countries, including helping it start new programs in Eritrea and Mozambique. She eventually returned to Kenya , where she served until 2004.

In 1994, Debra Millar became a Peace Corps Medical Officer and over the next decade, she served the Peace Corps in its efforts in several African countries, including helping it start new programs in Eritrea and Mozambique

Livermore Nurse Goes To Africa for One Year, Stays Two Decades

By The Independent

Debra Millar left the U.S. for Kenya in 1986 to help needy people in a remote part of the world.

The 1970 Livermore High School graduate and acute care nurse assured her parents, longtime local residents Chuck and Donna Neuenschwander, that she would be gone just a year or so.

Looking back, nearly a quarter-century later, it's clear that she had her life's work right - but not the time it would take to do it.

Over the years she has arranged medical treatment for African children whose condition appeared hopeless, helped scores of Peace Corps volunteers stay healthy or receive medical care when sick or injured, and set up programs to bring clean water, sanitation and sustainable medical practice to African communities.

Debra indicated that she has seen sights that no human being should have to see - not even medical professionals. She can tell stories of families and children who were rescued from murderous attacks, and families and children who were not.

But above all, she sees her work and the work of her present organization, CHF International, as helping capable teams of African leaders bring a better standard of living to African communities through programs that emphasize local resources and talent.

Although Africa has seen hard times and will see more, with AIDS ravaging much of the sub-Saharan region and poverty a daily factor in the lives of millions. "There is a future for Africa," she says.

Some of the promise comes from efforts that arise spontaneously because resourceful people care about each other. She tells the story of a group of Kenyan women who live a full day away from any medical help. Each contributes a little money to a pot that can be used to pay for transport if one of their children becomes sick. They all support each other.

At the national level, she has admired the way some countries have turned themselves around after catastrophic destruction. Rwanda and Mozambique are two examples, with "well educated" young leaders working to move their nations on a constructive path following horrific civil wars.

She loves the feeling of "watching young people rise up and start to become experts" in various aspects of community development. This is "one of the most rewarding parts of the experience," she says.

Millar's personal life was shaped by early tragedy. On Valentine's Day 1965, her sister and a friend were hit by a car and killed while riding bicycles south of Livermore. As terrible as that was, it might have been much worse. Debra and another friend had started on the same ride, making a group of four. However, Debra's bike had a flat tire and the two of them turned back early.

She says today that the tragedy, and the knowledge that only fortune spared her, was a total life changer…(that resulted) in me feeling the fragility of life and the importance of making a positive contribution.

After Livermore High, she went to San Jose State to become a nurse. After 10 years working in acute and cardiac care in the Bay Area and in southern Oregon, she decided to make a change. In 1988, she signed up with World Vision to manage a clinic in a remote part of western Kenya.

There, in the tiny community of Kiwawa, in the west Pokot region on the Ugandan border, she spent two years providing health care and counseling to members of a nomadic tribe. Her work included evaluating and treating patients, setting up mobile clinics for families and small groups herding cattle through the bush, and improving referrals for those who needed more serious care.

She continued providing clinical services for several years after that, but then met and married Rusty Millar, a Scot who managed large ranches and farms in Kenya and Uganda . Not long after they moved to Uganda, the U.S. Embassy there needed a nurse and contacted her.

In 1994, she became a Peace Corps Medical Officer, which meant caring for Peace Corps Volunteers, starting with training them on how to stay healthy in environments where it is all too easy to come in contact with malarial mosquitoes and unsanitary food and water. It also meant responsibility for evaluating indigenous medical systems and deciding when sick or injured volunteers needed to be shipped back to the U.S.

Over the next decade, she served the Peace Corps in its efforts in several African countries, including helping it start new programs in Eritrea and Mozambique. She eventually returned to Kenya , where she served until 2004.

That year, she joined CHF and moved from medical care into the related field of public health. She also moved back to the U.S.

CHF, for Cooperative Housing Foundation, started in the 1950s by providing affordable housing to low income families in the U.S. and then expanded overseas. Now in 27 countries, its efforts range from economic development to emergency response to health and medicine.

CHF prides itself on helping local communities develop indigenous resources that they can operate and maintain on their own. These sustainable efforts are in sharp contrast to a common problem of western aid: that someone flies in high tech equipment that operates for a year or two until it breaks down with no way to repair it. The villages of Africa are littered with the rusting remains of well-intentioned projects.

As satisfying as her life in Africa was, Millar is happy to be back in the U.S. as she continues her work for CHF. She and her husband live in Patterson, in the Central Valley, not far from her parents and daughter in Livermore and her son in Oregon.

She still travels to Africa, where she provides technical assistance for CHF health projects in Kenya and Rwanda. Her geographic responsibilities have broadened to include similar efforts in South America and the Carribean, including Colombia, Honduras and Haiti.

In Haiti, CHF had a project underway at the time of the January earthquake and was thus in a position to provide help promptly.




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: July, 2010; Peace Corps Eritrea; Directory of Eritrea RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Eritrea RPCVs; Peace Corps Mozambique; Directory of Mozambique RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Mozambique RPCVs; Staff; Medicine; Nursing





When this story was posted in November 2010, this was on the front page of PCOL:




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Support Independent Funding for the Third Goal Date: November 9 2010 No: 1460 Support Independent Funding for the Third Goal
The Peace Corps has always neglected the third goal, allocating less than 1% of their resources to "bringing the world back home." Senator Dodd addressed this issue in the "Peace Corps for the 21st Century" bill passed by the US Senate and Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter proposed a "Peace Corps Foundation" at no cost to the US government. Both are good approaches but the recent "Comprehensive Assessment Report" didn't address the issue of independent funding for the third goal at all.

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PCOL has asked five prominent RPCVs and Staff to write a memo on the most important issues facing the Peace Corps today. Issues raised include the independence of the Peace Corps, political appointments at the agency, revitalizing the five-year rule, lowering the ET rate, empowering volunteers, removing financial barriers to service, increasing the agency's budget, reducing costs, and making the Peace Corps bureaucracy more efficient and responsive. Latest: Greetings from Director Williams

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Story Source: The Independent

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Eritrea; COS - Mozambique; Staff; Medicine; Nursing

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