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Volunteer Stories

These Volunteer stories and photos give a true on-the ground view of the food crisis, and help raise awareness of the challenges faced by so many around the world. Volunteers play a unique role in education, agricultural development, income generation, and sustainability, and offer hope to the communities they serve.

  • It Takes a Thorn Tree To Raise A Child


    I squat in front of the giant stainless steel bowl and struggle to squeeze into the open space. There are 10 of us sharing lunch together, wrapped inside billowing kaftan robes. Our elbows knock each other as we reach for handfuls of benachin (a mixture of oily rice, sweet potato, cassava, and a trace of meat). More

  • Seeds of Success in Zambia


    Girls pounding cassava

    Thump-thump, thump-thump. The two young girls next door are pounding cassava into a powder; one-two, one-two. It's morning, 7:15, the neighbors have been awake for about two hours. I am still in bed. The pounding doesn't wake me any longer, nor do the roosters or goats. I've grown accustomed to these sounds. More


  • Local Women Fight Food Crisis One Onion at a Time


    Woman carrying baskets of fruit

    I am proud of you. I'm proud to say that I know you. Because of you, I am proud to call myself woman. You are the symbol of strength; baby on your back, basin upon your head. Its times like these in which I wish we all had the same mother tongue, just for a moment, so that I could truly express how I feel, how inspired I am by you. More

  • Shooing Away Hunger: Fighting the World Food Crisis in the Caprivi Strip


    As I open the door to my thatched hut, a shrill, guttural caw calls out into the virgin morning air. It is an unfamiliar sound, undoubtedly a new bird in the village. I look and almost immediately identify it: a pied crow. A harrowing creature, it perches on a Muhonono tree, peering at the students as they playfully wait for school to begin, oblivious to its presence. More

  • Planting a Seed in Paraguay


    Erin teaching children

    The door closes itself in the wind. Whooosh, screeeeach, click-click. I slowly turn around. "Alright Erin," I say to myself. "You can do this."

    The sea of curious stares make every swallow feel like a belly flop in my stomach. "Buen dia clase," I hear Spanish unconfidently exit my mouth. Oh, who am I kidding, my Guarani has been better than my Spanish since day one. We did, after all, receive our training in the indigenous Paraguayan language. "Mbaéichepa!" I call out with a little more gusto than before. More

  • Sharpening the Tools of the Fight


    Gail with farmer

    "I won’t get tested, I know I have AIDS. Look at me, I have all the symptoms. See the rashes on my arms? I am dropping weight each year! But they will just tell me to eat meat and drink milk, and send me home. I am poor, I can’t afford those things!" bellows an elderly man from the audience over the pulse of the Bongo Flava music in the dusty, sweaty Iringa bus stand. More

  • How Many Volunteers Does it Take to Lay an Egg?


    Baby chicks

    How many Peace Corps Volunteers does it take to get chickens to lay eggs? Apparently it takes at least six.

    I live five kilometers up a dirt road in the middle of the South American continent with an amazing group of women who have 30 chicken coops and, together, over 1,500 chickens. I wish one of the six aforementioned Volunteers could take credit for the extensive egg production project I have had the pleasure to watch progress in my two years as a resident of a small village here in Paraguay, but nevertheless, I must give credit where credit is due, to the hard working women of the Paraiso Poty Women’s Committee. More

  • The Mango Thief


    Gentleman with mangos

    The gentle rustle of leaves shatters whatever dreams I might have had about taking an afternoon nap. Half dozing, I grumpily barrel out my front door. I tumble in the direction of the community garden.

    As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda, I've been working in a village with the local school, Children's Sure House, to set up the garden. My hands skirt over the ground absent-mindedly in search of a rock to hurl at one of the neighborhood goats. Lately, they've had no problem negotiating the barbed wire fence to finish off a patch of half-eaten cabbage. More

  • Generous River: Growing Rice in Sub-Saharan Africa


    Girl sitting in field

    The broken fragments slipped between my fingers, leaving a chalky white residue that I rubbed off onto my ever-ready handkerchief as I tried to hide my disappointment. “Is this the only rice you have?” I asked the woman sitting behind the low wooden table under a paillote made of dry rushes. I already knew her answer would be yes, as I’d asked the same question of the two other vendors at my village’s tiny market. More

  • Hunger in Nicaragua


    Woman Selling Tomatoes

    There is something about Nicaragua that just makes me hungry. The doctors assure me that it’s normal--something about constant gastrointestinal stress, a result of being transplanted from microbial immune New York directly into a country that houses an impressive variety of tiny organisms, each and every one eager to make my intestines their new home. More

Last updated Jan 30 2014

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