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Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2011

Peace Corps Volunteer Spotlight: Shelia Slemp

Country of Service: Ukraine
Title: Community Development Volunteer
Time in Country: 2008–Present

During her Peace Corps service, Shelia helped her Ukrainian community launch the first community foundation youth bank in Ukraine. The youth bank and volunteers from the community have now completed more than 5,000 hours of volunteer service and 24 fundraising projects, raising money for the endowment and improvement of community life. She has also educated a local grants committee on effective ways to redistribute funds and led Peace Corps trainings to foster volunteer development.

Smithsonian FolkLife Festival: Shelia will be performing – singing, acting and dancing – with the Opika Performance Group, a group of nine young Ukrainians, most of whom graduated from the Perechyn boarding school orphanage. The Opika Performance Group provides young people with an entry into community life, exposing them to, and educating them about, the importance of public service. The group also educates the community, through performance art, about quality of life issues impacting Western Ukraine, such as the rapid transmission of HIV and AIDS, the threat of bird flu (along the Transcarpathian migration route), human trafficking, ecological destruction, and more.

In 2008, though a generous grant from the American people as part of the U.S. President's Plan for Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Opika and Margaret McKenna (RPCV, Ukraine) created an HIV/AIDS show that has been shown to more than 5,000 people, including President and Mrs. George W. Bush.

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Last updated Nov 20 2013