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Peace Corps Response Volunteers support program development in Suriname and strengthens Peace Corps Programming

Lenny Teh

Peace Corps Suriname
Acting Country Director

The Surinamese developmental activities are currently going through a big change because of the government’s new focus on youth development, structured HIV/AIDS awareness and improvement of government services. Since 2009, a number of programs funded by international organizations, including the United Nations, USAID, PEPFAR, AUSAID and several smaller NGOs from the Netherlands, have re-started their activities in the country. Most of these projects have challenges with implementation because of the shortage of highly skilled and experienced staff available to complete the work.

Since its introduction to Suriname in 2010, Peace Corps Response has brought Peace Corps Suriname’s activities to a higher level. Traditionally, in Suriname, two-year Volunteers are placed in underserved communities who have limited access to resources and support available in the other areas of the country. At the same time, Peace Corps Response Volunteers (PCRVs) are placed in strategic organizations that provide project support to these underserved countries.

As a result of these placements, PCRVs have the opportunity to act as technical resource specialist to projects and activities that are being designed and implemented by two-year Volunteers and their counterparts as well as act as liaisons between these higher level organization and the communities in which two-year Volunteers are serving.

In their strategic assignments, PCRVs work with local NGOs, international organizations such as UNICEF, and with government agencies, building their capacity in program development, implementation and evaluation.

The assignments of a PCRV in Suriname vary from agency to agency, but all have one thing in common: each position lessens the need for skilled and experience professionals in program development in Suriname.

For example, one PCRV worked alongside the staff at a boarding house, for boys who have left their communities to continue their middle school and high school education in the city, and are in need of a support system that helps young men to cope with the challenges and differences that living in a city brings. Another PCRV worked with counterparts at the Bureau of Public Health on the implementation of an improvement water quality testing department that included the set-up of protocols and guidelines as well as the technical training of staff to complete the water quality tests. Another PCRV assisted a newly established office of an international NGO to set-up its monitoring and evaluation system as well as the training and guidance of office staff.

The diversity of Peace Corps Response assignments goes beyond regular volunteer service; one PCRV trained traditional two-year Volunteers in survey design and administration, resulting in these Volunteers conducting research on breastfeeding practices for the Bureau of Public Health.

As Peace Corps Suriname is getting ready to close its operations in July 2013, we are proud to say that PCRVs have played a significant role in our operations and have helped us to build Peace Corps’ Legacy as a development partner in Suriname. Below are some quotes from our counterparts:

“The Peace Corps Response Volunteers fitted (sic) right in with the team, has excellent communication skills and has shown willingness, motivation and dedication to complete her tasks and also flexibility to adapt to changes when needed.” – Counterpart at UNICEF Computer Aided Learning Project

“The Peace Corps Response Volunteer had an open mind for our situations, came with problem solving ideas, have (sic) broad knowledge of the topic and is very skilled in designing programs to take our organization to a higher level.” – Counterpart at a Microcredit Organization

“We are honored to have had a [PCRV] in our organization. She has been of great support to strengthen our capacity especially on the Human Resource aspects. We are very grateful for Peace Corps for the opportunity to have two Response Volunteers in the previous years. We would have liked to continue to benefit from this program of highly skilled Volunteers. We know that the program is closing in Suriname, and therefore say THANK YOU!” – Counterpart at the Bureau of Public Health

Because of their skills, work experience and attitude, PCRVs are highly appreciated by their counterparts for their knowledge and experience. They are meeting Suriname’s biggest need: skilled human resources and an extra hand that supports program design and implementation.

Last updated May 03 2016

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