Peace Corps Volunteer Helps Build Bridge for Communities in Suriname

Washington, D.C., April 9, 2012 Peace Corps volunteer Jessica Schmitt of Rockford, Ill., is working with 20 local community members in two neighboring Surinamese villages to construct a pedestrian bridge. The bridge will provide access to the local school, medical clinic, store, and the nearby villages. A portion of the funds for the project are being raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), a program that supports Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide.

Magnifying glass iconA Surinamese community member measures wood for the new bridge.There are many close family ties that exist between these villages, said Schmitt, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has been working as a youth business educator volunteer since 2010. This path serves as a major highway for the men, women, and children both day and night. However, the path is currently obstructed by a large creek that often becomes impassable during the rainy season here in Suriname.

To connect the two villages, the community has been using a log as a makeshift bridge. This solution is neither safe nor permanent, said Schmitt. The path remains a safety hazard for the community members traveling to the doctor, visiting their families, picking up flour at the local store and for children traveling to school.

Magnifying glass iconA Surinamese mother and child in Peace Corps volunteer Jessica Schmitts village.Community members from the surrounding villages have donated wood, sand, gravel, and housing for the bridge contractors. However, due to the low income of the communities, they are still unable to meet all of the costs necessary for the bridge\'s construction.

In order to receive funding through the PCPP, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the total project and outline success indicators for the individual projects. This helps ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability. One hundred percent of each tax-deductible PCPP donation goes toward a development project.

Those interested in supporting Schmitts project in Suriname can visit: Her project number is 568-134.

About Peace Corps/Suriname: More than 410 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Suriname since the program was established in 1995. Currently, 49 volunteers serve in Suriname. Volunteers work in the areas of health and community economic development. Volunteers are trained and work in the following languages: Aucan, Sranan Tongo and Saramaccan.

About the Peace Corps: Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 200,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 9,095 volunteers are working with local communities in 75 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment and the agencys mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit for more information.

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