Former Peace Corps Volunteer to Head Refugee Mission in Albania ; Rochester Native Named Country Director for Action Against Hunger
June 14, 1999Washington, D.C., June 14, 1999—Simon Springett, a Rochester, N.Y. native and former Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa, was recently named head of Action Against Hunger's refugee mission in Albania.
"Joining the Peace Corps gave me the ultimate field experience I needed to continue to work in international development," Springett said of his three years in Africa. "The contacts I made as a Peace Corps volunteer were vital. While the Peace Corps experience doesn't necessarily translate into relief work, I was amazed at the skills and abilities I acquired. Making the most of difficult situations, learning a new and different language, and being open to new experiences gave me the leg-up I needed to pursue a career in international development."
Springett, 31, departed June 11 for his position in Albania. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger from 1994-1997, he worked with the African Food Systems Initiative, providing training to area farmers. For six months in 1997, he served as a Peace Corps Crisis Corps volunteer in Guinea, collaborating with the World Food Programme to arrange delivery of food to refugees.
Since he finished his Peace Corps service in 1997, Springett has held various positions in northern Cambodia and Tajikistan with Action Against Hunger. In Albania, he will oversee a staff of 25, most of whom are volunteers, like himself, earning a stipend between $800 and $1200 per month. Springett and his staff will work with about 45,000 Kosovar refugees, providing food and other essential items, water, nutritional assessments and surveillance, construction of latrines, showers and washing area, and maintenance of water structures at various camps throughout the country.
"I do this kind of work because of the human element, not for the adrenaline rush," Springett commented. "When people are on their last leg emotionally or physically, and I can do something to help them feel better for an hour, it's worth it. Letting people know that you care about them and are trying to provide assistance or support is a big part of why I do what I do."
Springett received his bachelor's degree in geology from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, in 1991.
Action Against Hunger was founded in France in 1979, and established in the United States in 1985. There are currently about 300 Americans and 4,000 local staff members working in 36 countries around the world, providing training in nutrition, health, food security, water and sanitation, and disaster preparedness to local communities. Currently, nearly 6,700 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 77 countries in education, the environment, health and nutrition, business advising, and community development. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.