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Scenic images from the field

Good Works take woman from Trenton to Ethiopia

“Five years after graduating from Trenton Central High School, Jessica Mims is in Ethiopia, working to build an incinerator as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Her journey is no surprise to family members back home.

‘Jessica is the type of person who likes helping people, it’s in her nature,’ said her mother, Evelyn Mims. ‘She figured going there, in a third world country, she would really be making a difference.’

Jessica Mims, 23,grew up North Trenton, and attended Jefferson Elementary School and Junior 3 before moving on to TCHS. After graduating in 2007, sheattended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in public health.

In Ethiopia, she is putting that degree to work on Peace Corps projects in Gore, a small town in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia. She works with the local high school’s ANTI-HIV club, where she teaches peer-to-peer education, prevention and family planning. Mims also is working with people suffering from AIDS to organize an association and develop an IGA, or Income Generating Activity.

After analyzing the needs of the health center, Mims decided her chief project was to build a medical waste incinerator.

‘Medical waste, shards of glass, used bandages, needles and used swabs, are discarded in a large hole on the health center’s compound,’ Mims said in an interview conducted by email.

She went on to describe the danger the uncovered waste poses to the staff, patients and families who live on the compound.

‘Their proximity puts them at risk of injury and exposure to disease…in addition to injury this un-discarded waste threatens the safety of drinking water,’ she said.

Funding for the project is raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, with the majority of the money donated from family and relatives in the United States. The town is offering the labor needed for the project and will remove the medical waste. The total cost is $3,394.63 but Mims says they have only raised $783.

Mims keeps a ‘budget thermometer,’ drawn with colored markers, in the health office to track the fundraising progress.

‘Whenever I see the balance decrease I run into the office and fill in the thermometer. It keeps everyone informed and it reminds people of why I’m here,’ said Mims.

The project has caught the eye of people back home."

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