Thursday, April 25, 2013

Peace Corps Response: The Adventure Continues

In just five days I’ll be leaving West Africa, but I won’t be gone for long.

I've been offered and accepted a Peace Corps Response position with Save the Children, serving as a Health Program Specialist in Kankan, Guinea. It’s a nine-month assignment, starting in June, and I’ll be supporting the current Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) that’s being funded by USAID and led by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Jphiego.

Home Sweet Soon-to-Be Home

MCHIP activities focus on strengthening family planning services, increasing local capacity for reproductive health services, and increasing the quality of care provided at the community level. As a Health Program Specialist, my main responsibilities will be to provide regular monthly updates on program activities in Guinea in English and French, to work with local staff to improve work plans and budgets, and to help coordinate the development of a Public Health and Nutrition Program. It will be a big change and a lot of responsibility, but I’m eager to work with Save the Children, to spend a bit more time in West Africa, and to eat avocados for breakfast every day. (Among other things, Guinea is renowned for having beautiful terrain, nightmarish roads and absolutely fabulous fruits and vegetables.) 

As excited as I am, there is a big opportunity cost – I was really looking forward to spending a summer in the Trinity Alps, to finally being around for weddings and birthdays, and to spending the holidays in California. Happily, I will have a long enough break to spend some quality time with friends and family, and the office where I'll work in Kankan is outfitted with electricity and a back-up generator  so it will be a lot easier to stay connected. Plus it will probably be all thrilling and novel just to be in an office, to have a desk and a chair and an internet connection. Who knows, maybe I'll even have running water at home. Fancytown! 

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