A monthly newsletter of The West Cascade Peace Corps Association in Oregon's Southern Willamette Valley
At its June meeting the board awarded a $500 grant to the Peace Corps Partnership project, Community Cereal Bank, in Kenya. The project's director is B. Bostian who is from Oregon.
The project will enable a community of Luo subsistence farmers to build a community cereal bank for grain storage. With a local storage facility, the community will be able to store grain at harvest time for later use or sale. Currently there is no such facility and often grain is sold at low prices only to be purchased later at high prices for local use. A cooperative cereal bank will help the community combat food insecurity, improve nutrition, and alleviate poverty.
Funds for this grant came from distributions of the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund which WCPCA maintains at the Oregon Community Foundation. The fund originated from gifts to honor Beryl's memory and her work on behalf of humanitarian causes. She began this effort as a PCV in Afghanistan, 1967-69, inoculating women and children against small pox.
We've heard recently from Oregon PCV Nik Karr who is the director of a PCP project in Vanautu to which we donated $500 in March. His project, Rural Water System Development, is an ambitious undertaking to do a major overhaul of the drinking water distribution system in his community. Read in "From the Wider World" a detailed email from Nik in which he describes his work and his plans to extend his Peace Corps service to see the project through. He's got a tough job!
Tyler Russ, another Oregon PCV whose project, Guitar Workshop, in Rwanda received a WCPCA grant of $835 in April. You can also read an update from him in "From the Wider World."
WCPCA has contributed a total of $1,835 this year to these three PCP projects. Your membership dues and purchases of tee shirts and calendars enable us to support these projects. Thank you for your contribution!
Andrew Dempsey-Karp is organizing a WCPCA booth at the Country Fair. The booth will be one of several in the Peace and Justice Booth in the Community Village. Those staffing the booth will talk about the Peace Corps and WCPCA and hand out PC literature.
Andrew is still looking for help staffing the booth. Volunteers will be assigned a 2 hour work shift during the day of attendance. Volunteers will receive a discounted day pass, which permits entry to the fairgrounds as early at 7am. The number of available passes is limited. If you can help please email firstname.lastname@example.org and write Country Fair in the subject line. If you can't help with staffing, please swing by and visit us at the booth!
Sam Greer is organizing the 22nd annual northwest regional campout for RPCVs at Sunset Bay. WCPCA is the host organization this year. Campsites have been reserved for up to 50 participants. Local motels are also available. You are welcome for the full four days or a shorter period. Sam has identified an ambitious number of activities, all optional of course. Please see the registration page on the WCPCA website's calendar to learn about the potential activities and reserve a camp site.
WCPCA will organize a dinner on Saturday night, August 4th. The cost is included in the registration fee or you can pay Sam directly if you won't be camping. Be sure to let him know that you are coming. The campout will be a summer highlight with sun, surf, and great company.
Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi have invited us to enjoy a poolside potluck and barbecue at their lovely home at 85622 Jasper Park Road in Pleasant Hill on Saturday afternoon, August 18, 3-6 pm. Come prepared for swimming or sunning. There is a covered shelter at the poolside if you prefer the shade. Your bringing a folding chair would be helpful.
Bob will grill hamburgers and garden burgers. We'll share a potluck of appetizers, salads, and desserts. Please bring a dish to share. Cups, plates, and utensils will be provided.
We'll have a delightful program learning from two recently returned volunteers about their programs. Kerry Davis, Vanautu, 2009-2011, will tell us of her work and why she is continuing with the Peace Corps, setting off for Columbia in September. Jennifer Knowles, Macedonia, 2009-2011, will describe her program and how she learned to say, Chill out!, in Macedonian and then follow the advice.
You'll find driving directions to Bob and Rosa's home in the calendar section of the website where the picnic is listed.
WCPCA will take part in the Eugene Celebration with a parade entry on Saturday morning, August 25th, and by creating and staffing a booth in the Community Causeway, open both days. This event will be our best opportunity this year to "bring the world back home" as well as to present WCPCA to the community.
Parade: We'll have a lively group in the parade as most of us will carry the flag of a current or former Peace Corps host county. If you have your own flag, you are welcome to bring it. Our venerable "taxi" will cruse along. Several of us will carry Peace Corps placards on bamboo poles to encourage those thinking about Peace Corps service. And of course we'll identify WCPCA with the 9 foot banner leading the way.
We're strongly encouraged by the management to wear costumes and so we ask everyone to wear an article of traditional clothing from his/her Peace Corps host country or a WCPCA tee shirt. Please recall that our newest tee shirt with a graphic and two quotations of President Kennedy is now for sale. You can purchase it online or directly in Eugene. For the latter, email email@example.com and put tee shirt in the subject line. Let us know that you want one or more and someone will call or email you.
Join us and bring your children and friends, especially international friends. The parade is a family friendly affair. We'll be gathering Saturday morning, 8/25, about 9:30 am at South Eugene High School. We'll let you know exactly where in the August newsletter.
Booth: Planning for the booth is underway. We'll have a world map for RPCVs to identify their country of service and a geography game to invite visitors to stop by. See below to learn how to contribute questions for the game. We'll distribute Peace Corps literature and answer questions about the Peace Corps. (On the job training is available.) We'll also talk about WCPCA and hope to identify new RPCVs to join. And, finally, the new WCPCA tee shirts and the gorgeous new 2013 international calendars will be for sale. Remember, these sales support our grants to Peace Corps Partnership projects.
We'll need many of you to help staff the booth on both days for two hour shifts. The work is social, fun, and for a good cause. If you can join us for this task, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and write "Eugene Celebration" in the subject line. Someone will call or email you.
Help create a geography game for the booth: Evangelina Sundgrenz is putting together a geography game for the Eugene Celebration that ties in geography, trivia about famous Americans, and the countries Peace Corps has served or currently serves. The goal of this game is to bring in young and old to the booth to play a game that offers various levels of difficulty and a world map to assist with the response. Do you have fun and interesting questions to share? We want to hear from you!
Sample questions include:
Please email your questions or suggestions to email@example.com and write PC Trivia in the subject line.
WCPCA's new JFK tee shirts are on sale now! The April potluck WCPCA unveiled the new tee shirt designed by James Cloutier. The shirts will be available to purchase at WCPCA gatherings and at the Eugene Celebration booth as well as through the website. You can purchase one locally at any time by letting us know of your interest via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and writing "tee shirt" in the subject line. The shirts are a beautiful spring blue color, 100% cotton, with the design printed in four colors. The front features the West Cascade dove and a quotation from President John Kennedy's inaugural address (1961), "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." The back shows a graphic of JFK against the background of a world map, the Peace Corps name, and the following quotation (1963), "A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on."
Tee shirt sales will be a major fundraiser for WCPCA this year. The board will dedicate the total profit from the sales to funding humanitarian projects such as those that we have recently funded in Vanuatu, Rwanda, and Kenya. The price of an individual shirt is $20 plus $3 per shirt for mailing if necessary. A wholesale price for a dozen or more shirts will be $16 per shirt plus $16 per box for mailing a box that will hold up to 15 shirts. We hope to enlist the interest of other RPCV groups as well as businesses in selling the shirts. If you can help with this, please let us know.
Dorothy Soper and James Cloutier
Through Bob Crites (Brazil, 1964 - 1966) WCPCA learned about Priscilla Dantas, a talented pianist from Brazil who is enrolled at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance. She received scholarships from Students Helping Street Kids International (SHSKI).
Priscilla is not only an amazing pianist; she is an amazing person as well. Priscilla was born and raised in poverty in Brazil. She turned out to be extremely talented musically, especially on the piano. SHSKI has provided Priscilla an academic scholarship since she was 11 years old, and she came to Eugene as a foreign exchange student for her senior year at Churchill High School in the 2010 - 2011 academic year.
In September 2011, she was admitted to the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance where she is currently studying piano. SHSKI continues to provide her with a $10,000 annual scholarship while in college. Her summer concerts contribute to this fund.
WCPCA Newsletter readers may appreciate seeing a video of her performing at the Franz Liszt Festival, Teatro Santa Isabel, Recife, Brazil, August 13, 2012.
She will perform six such concerts throughout Oregon this summer. Her current schedule is below.
While there is no admission charge to these concerts, donations are requested. One hundred percent of the proceeds from Priscilla's benefit concerts go to her scholarship fund.
SHSKI is a 501 (c) (3) organization, located in Eugene that was founded in 1997 by Bob Crites. The organization funds private school education and pays for some additional expenses of children living in poverty in Recife, Brazil. As a rule these children are identified in elementary school and are supported through high school. The average annual cost of one student's education is $3,600. Much of the organization's funding has come from the support of American school children, especially in the Eugene/Springfield area, where Bob worked for many years as a school counselor. Bob was a PCV in Brazil, 1964-66, and now lives with his wife in Recife for six months of the year. SHSKI is a nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible.
For more information on SHSKI see: www.helpthekids.org.
Those you who were PCVs in the early years through 1989 may remember taking Aralen to prevent malaria. The active ingredient in the medication was chloroquine. Recent research based on animal studies at Baylor College of Medicine suggests that people who took chloroquine may be protected again certain types of cancer including breast, pancreas, and liver cancers.
To study this possible link the Abramson Center for the Future of Health is organizing a survey of RPCVs who took Aralen. The study will include women only, both those who did and those who did not take Aralen because both an experimental and a control group are necessary. Organizers hope to have responses to an online survey from 14,000 individuals.
NPCA will support this study by disseminating information to RPVCs directly as well as to its affiliate groups in a number of ways beginning with information sessions at the annual gathering in Minneapolis, June 29- July 1.
To learn more about the study and the proposed survey, visit The Abramson Center.
Greetings from Vanuatu! I just received your e-mail. Thank you so much for the donation and your continued interest in the progress of the project.
I have attached a Monitoring and Evaluation Logical Framework that outlines the objectives of the program. This also includes the desired outcomes of the project and the indicators with which we hope to measure these outcomes. Currently, we are in the midst of 'Objective 2' and have raised 7,123.78 USD with 4,486.58 USD left of the original budget. I say original budget because I have been working with Rural Water Supply (RWS), of the Government of Vanuatu, recently to finalize the design and materials list and I have reached our first obstacle along the road.
Back in October/November I conducted the RWS Water Supply Survey on behalf of RWS in Naviso, Maewo. With this information, Kalparam Gershom - RWS Engineer - was able to finalize the design and materials list - Kalparam decided it best to divide the project into two separate water systems to supply the multiple stations within Naviso Community. I was provided with a new estimate budget and proceeded to forward the materials list to Santo Hardware - our best option for materials in the Northern Quadrant of Vanuatu - and received their price quotes - which unfortunately were much higher than any estimate given to me by RWS. The price quotes from Santo Hardware totaling Vatu 1,802,935 or USD 19,119.14.
At this time, I have to head back to Maewo and cannot take any immediate action to locate additional funding, but this is also arbitrary as we have not reached our original goal yet. I am next in Port Vila in early September and will then be pursuing further funding sources - foreign aid, local donors - to supplement the project (I have no intention of attempting to increase the budget of the PCPP). This work will probably continue throughout September, October, and November.
I am fully dedicated to seeing this project through. Back in February I submitted my request for extension and should be back in Vanuatu in January 2013, after a brief holiday spell in the US. My interest is not in extending the deadline of the project though, so I am looking to pursue as many additional funding sources as possible. Any ideas or avenues of possible funding that I can pursue would be much appreciated. My special circumstances in Maewo make it difficult to pursue anything when at site (lacking phone service, internet, electricity, and any easy way to reach these services), thus I can only wait (seemingly a Peace Corps credo or something like that) until next I am in Port Vila.
Thank you again for your donations and I will continue to keep you updated on the progress of the project. Currently in Naviso, the Community is working on building 83 VIP (Ventilation-Improved) Toilets - funded by the Australian High Commission and fundraising for the Water Project. Water and Sanitation conditions are definitely improving and the Community is completely behind the work. Positive things are in the works and this water project will greatly improve the situation - just need to start pursuing supplementary funding sources.
The Community and I are honored to be working with fellow Americans, RPCVs, and all other International Aid Organizations in the pursuit of universal access to clean water. Water is life and life in service to others is one of the most rewarding. Thank you for all of your continued support.
Nik Karr, PCV
I wanted to update everyone on the Guitar Workshop. I've been wanting to do this for some time now.
I've printed the text that we're going to use in the workshop. I've organized the text so that an interested person could use it to self-educate. I'm convinced that this music project will continue when I leave. The book is about 74 pages. I printed about 70 copies of it.
[On an aside, I printed the books in Kigali two weeks ago. My travel to Kigali was limited at that time and I stayed up all night working on printing. From about 2pm Saturday until 6 am, Sunday I was at Right Click Copy Shop in Kigali printing the book. 24 hour printing, very helpful!]
At this point, I will be taking the books to site today. I've got them at the Peace Corps office in Kigali and will be returning to site this afternoon.
For the guitars, I've experienced a problem with the quality of the handmade guitars I purchased. I was using one of the guitars and tuning it in the normal way and the bridge separated from the body. I finally had a chance to take it to the craftsman here in Kigali yesterday and he will repair it for me.
This is a problem I had not foreseen. He asked me yesterday if I knew anyone who made guitars or could put him in contact with a craftsman in Europe or the US who could show him how to build the guitars at a professional level. I now view this as a component of my Peace Corps experience -- building capacity. I hope to put him in contact with someone to improve his production.
For me, this is a disappointment, but when life gives you lemons . . . So, I will have to use the guitars in a lower key than would normally be used in standard tuning of a guitar. Still, better than nothing, I think.
Tyler Russ, PCV
WCPCA member, Terri Lundy, who is a physician, is pleased to have received a Peace Corps assignment in Botswana and will leave for her training in September. She reports, "My job title will be School and Community Liaison for Life Skills for HIV/AIDS teaching/prevention. I am very excited and extremely nervous about this phase of my life." We wish Terri well and look forward to hearing about her activities.
Orchard Park, NY, teacher and athletic director Anthony Agnello (72-74) received the 2011 Touchdown for Teachers grand prize. He was honored for his 40 years dedicated to education. Agnello continues to work on a number of projects related to Afghanistan, where he served in the Peace Corps. His student organization, Educational Outreach, in partnership with Friends of Afghanistan, substantially supported SOLA, which supports the construction of six schools for girls throughout the country. In addition, the organization is working with a steering committee of military mothers to send boxes of school supplies to Afghanistan.
The information is on the NPCA website under The Community.
As Peace Corps volunteers we are sometimes surprised at how governments in other countries can appear to be so different from our own. The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011) provides a useful framework for comparing and contrasting state governments over the course of history as well as provocative implications for understanding our current American political scene. I've read, skimmed, and reread this book, underlining extensively, and then skimmed it again. I appreciate the rich details and many insights that have led me to understand historical societies from a fresh perspective. The author is Francis Fukuyama, the political scientist known for The End of History and the Last Man (1992), also the author of several other books.
Fukuyama argues that the default form of political organization throughout history, including for most modern states, has grown out of and is little different from tribal politics. Leaders exchange favors in return for support from a group of followers, primarily their family and friends. At the extreme, leaders extract resources from the rest of society for their personal gain and the benefit of their families. Recent examples (mine, not Fukuyama's) include Saddam Hussein and his sons in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi and his sons in Libya, the extended family of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the military elite in Egypt, and the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia. The New York Times, commenting on the Bo Xilai scandal in China, notes that "the relatives of other current and former senior officials have also amassed great wealth, often playing central roles in businesses closely entwined with the state" (China 'princelings' using family ties to gain riches, May 18th, p. A1).
Fukuyama identifies only three occasions in which states were successful in limiting the corruption inherent in kinship and tribal connections and having individuals be loyal to the state itself. The first of these was during the Qin Dynasty (third century BCE) when, under the doctrine of legalism (as opposed to Confucianism), hereditary state offices were replaced with a system of ranks based on military merit. Subsequently, during the Han Dynasty, preliminary steps were taken towards the examination system that, by the time of the Ming dynasty (14th century CE), replaced elite family connections as the primary route into government service. The second occasion was the practice under the Abbasid caliphs (9th century) of bringing Turkic slaves into the military as mamluks, troops who because of their foreign origin would be more loyal to the caliph than would indigenous troops with connections to local chiefs, tribes, or noble families. A similar practice existed in the Ottoman Empire beginning in the 14th century. Under the devshirme system, able Christian boys from the Balkans were selected and educated for all the key leadership positions in the Sultan's administration and military. (This practice declined in the 16th and 17th centuries, as elite Muslim families pressed for high positions for their sons.) Third, beginning in the 11th century the Catholic church brought an end to the practice of bishops passing church land to their children by restricting the ability of priests and bishops to marry and have children. As priests became less loyal to their former families and more loyal to the Catholic church as a political institution, the latter took on many of the characteristics of a state.
So how, then, do we get the emergence of modern political organization, for example, in England in the 18th century? Fukuyama points to political developments that were unique to Europe and to England. First, after the 6th century the Catholic church restricted marriages between close kin, marriages to widows of dead relatives, adoption of children, and divorce. The net effect was that property was less often retained within kinship groups and more often obtained by the church. More important, tribal and kinship ties were weakened, and European communities became more individualistic, especially in England. Second, the 11th century systematization of canon law helped prepare the way for a European emphasis on the rule of law and the strength and independence of the legal profession (although Fukuyama notes that the rule of law was also important in the Middle East and India). As a result, by the 17th century a broad portion of the English people participated on local juries and in county governance, and the English Parliament represented not only the aristocracy, as elsewhere in Europe, but also the gentry (small landowners, freemen, and independent farmers).
Because the most basic form of political organization is tribal-like kinship and personal connections, which Fukuyama terms "patrimonialism," political decay can occur through a process of "repatrimonialization." The elites increasingly extract higher levels of resources from the underlying society and divert these to their families and friends. "The origins of political order" advances only as far as the late 18th century (a second volume on the Industrial Revolution and the modern world is promised) and so Fukuyama merely hints at political decay in America. Yet I am reminded here of the increasing trend for our local and state and Federal governments to seek short-term budget balances by selling off public assets such as parks and water and energy utilities and privatizing government functions such as education and the prison system. One of the requirements of good government is, through regulations against nepotism and through transparency and accountability, to erect barricades against personal favoritism and corruption. But widespread privatization, for example, of the Social Security system or of Medicare, would mean that enormous public resources would be under the control of an anonymous but powerful corporate elite, where patrimonialism, the favoring of family and friends, can once again reign. If so, then contemporary America may be little different from ancien regime France, in which government offices with an assumed stream of revenue for the office holder were sold to the highest bidders among the nobility and the nobility further lobbied with the king for tax exemptions for themselves, so that tax revenues were sought primarily from the vast majority of peasants and craftsmen.
This seems a good place to quote Paul Krugman (Prisons, Privatization, Patronage, The New York Times, June 22): "As more and more government functions become privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business. Are the corporations capturing the politicians, or the politicians capturing the corporations? Does it matter? .... You shouldn't imagine that what The Times discovered about prison privatization in New Jersey is an isolated instance of bad behavior. It is, instead, almost surely a glimpse of a pervasive and growing reality, of a corrupt nexus of privatization and patronage that is undermining government across much of our nation."
There is much in this 585-page volume that I haven't touched upon, including more on the rule of law and on accountability, as well as comparing and contrasting strong absolutist government in Russia, weak absolutist governments in France and Spain, and failed oligarchies in Hungary and Poland.