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Come celebrate Guyana at the FROG fundraiser and film screening event in Washington, DC. The evening includes a screening of the narrative short film, The Seawall, by Guyanese filmmaker Mason Richards and a special guest speaker, the Guyana Ambassador to the United States, Bayney Karran. All proceeds from the event go to FROGs grant program. Since the grant program began in 2009, FROG has provided over $2,200 in grants and has implemented six projects in communities all over Guyana.
About The Seawall â€“ FROG has had the pleasure of working with Cal Arts School of Film and Design student Mason Richards on his film, The Seawall. The film was made possible by fundraising and donations totaling $20,000 through a non-profit fiscal sponsor affiliation with FROG. The film centers on Marjorie, an older Guyanese woman who struggles with loneliness, abandonment and sacrifice as she prepares for her grandsonâ€™s move to America to be with his mother. The Seawall was shot entirely on location in Georgetown, Guyana and has allowed the filmmaker to return to his home country to share what he has learned and make a film â€œin the community – with the community.â€?
What: Fundraiser and Film Screening
When: Friday, September 17th, 2010 at 7:00PM – 10:00PM
Where: Goethe Institut â€“ Washington, 812 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Since the start of FROGâ€™s grants program in March 2009, FROG has funded seven projects in Guyana, with five completed and two in progress. The total amount of funding given to date is US$2,630.00. The projects were led by current and past Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9. Below is a summary of the projects that FROG has funded in 2010 through your generous contributions.
- St. Monica-Karawab Clean Water Project, Part II, US$395 – Phillip Chan, GUY 15
- Afterschool Homework Help at Two Brothers Primary Accelerated Learning Center, US$500 -Edith Yoo, GUY 20
- Promoting and Complimenting Local Pepper Sauce and Food Spices Production, US$485- Juan Rodrigues, GUY 20
- In School Youth (ISY) Program, US$100 – Adia McPherson, Peace Corps Response Volunteer 2010
- Kwatamang Village Ground Raising Project , US$500 – Nick Smith, GUY 20
- Guyana A.R.T.S. (Act, Reach, Think, and Shine), US$250 – Mica Gaard, GUY 21
St. Monica-Karawab Clean Water Project
In March 2009, FROG funded its first project when Phillip Chan (GUY 15), proposed to return to his PC Site, St. Monica in the Pomeroon River (Region 2), during his spring break from medical school at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He and a classmate worked with the community to construct a water tank stand and install 4 tanks to collect 1,800 gallons of rainwater in order to improve access to clean water for community members. Philip wrote of his experience, â€œOn a personal note, it was really awesome to be back in St. Monica. There were moments of nostalgia, bizarre feelings of dÃ©jÃ vu, and a little bit of sadness. However, for the most part I was actually heartened by all the positive steps the village seemed to be taking, from the woodworking shop and functioning village telephone, to the head teacherâ€™s enthusiasm and continuing use of the computers.â€?
Because of the success of his first project, Phillip returned to Guyana, with five of his fellow medical students. The group installed additional rainwater catchment tanks in the village of Karawab, Pomeroon River (Region 2) and educated the community about proper water treatment and hygiene. With the completion of the project, the water catchment system in Karawab is capable of collecting 900 gallons of rainwater and improving access to clean water for a broad range of community members. The group also conducted educational activities at Karawab and St. Monica schools, teaching the students about the importance of clean water treatment and healthy hygiene practices, with the hope of ensuring the proper use and maintenance of the water collection systems for years to come.
Phillip said, â€œAwesome trip this year! At first, I was a bit more anxious having a larger group with us, and trying to get everyone out to the village all in one piece. But, once we got to Guyana, the week was an incredible success and in retrospect it seems to have gone by so amazingly fast. The days were jam-packed with teaching, playing with kids, local trips, purchasing construction materials, and paddling around on the river.â€?
Priya Sharma, a Jefferson Medical College (MS1), who was also on the trip said, â€œSpending a week in Guyana was one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever had! Since this was my first time traveling to a foreign country for a service project, I was extremely apprehensive about the obstacles that I would face. However, I was completely amazed by how easy it was to adapt to the Guyanese life. As soon as we arrived at the village, I was overwhelmed by the gratitude and hospitality of St. Monica, and we were able to interact with the villagers as if we were from St. Monica itself. Every day was a new learning experience, whether it was learning how to sleep in a hammock comfortably, or learning how to balance a flashlight while acting out Yoda in our “Celebrity” game.â€?
After School Homework Help at Two Brothers Primary Accelerated Learning Center
In March 2010, Edith Yoo (GUY 20) used a FROG grant to purchase textbooks for the secondary studentsâ€™ after school homework program at Two Brothers Primary Accelerated Learning Center in Canal #1, Region 3. The learning center is open Monday through Friday, from 4 to 5pm for students to get homework help from community volunteers and to have access to the textbooks which their families may not be able to afford. The program typically sees 10-12 children on a daily basis. The students come from all along the West Bank to be able to have access to free textbooks. In addition, a small portion of the FROG grant was used to purchase storybooks for the library and chapter books for the secondary school. The books are being used to encourage reading, and to have students practice reading.
Edith wrote â€œWord is spreading about the learning center homework help program, and secondary school students will now bring their older brothers or sisters to help study for the CXC as well as many students are bringing their friends from neighboring villages. Students who would never be able to complete assignments because they did not have textbooks are now able to have access to books, not only when they need to complete assignments but also to just come and review what they learned that day.
â€œParents are eternally grateful that we are giving this kind of support to their children. A parent came up to me and said â€˜Having these books is going to save me, there was no way that I could afford these books, and my daughter really needs them.â€™ The thank yous from parents and students are endless. A student in Form 1 told me, â€˜Miss, you are really saving me I wouldnâ€™t have been able to do my assignment if I didnâ€™t have this book.â€™â€?
Promoting and Complimenting Local Pepper Sauce and Food Spices Production
During the summer of 2010, Juan Rodriguez (GUY 20) worked with the Vilvoorden Women’s Group on the Essequibo Coast, Region 2 to implement a project which aims to create a way for members of the womenâ€™s group to earn income from producing and selling pepper sauce and ground spices in their local communities. Funds from the FROG grant were used to purchase equipment and supplies to start production and packaging of the pepper sauce and dried spices. All funds generated from the sale of their products will be used to sustain production.
Juan said â€œThrough this project I managed to learn some interesting agricultural tips concerning pepper sauce and food spices, but more importantly it provided me an opportunity to more intimately work with the ladies from the Womenâ€™s group. I am truly proud of being a part of the project and thank FROG for giving us an outlet to execute it for the benefit of our community in Guyana.â€?
In School Youth (ISY) Program
Adia McPherson, a Peace Corps Response Volunteer, worked with Artistes in Direct Support (AIDS) in Georgetown. She used her FROG grant to strengthen staff and volunteer capacity in implementing their In-School Youth HIV prevention program. During the project, she planned and implemented five training sessions on the following topics: HIV and AIDS Basic Review; Care for PLWHA and Fighting Stigma and Discrimination; Counseling and Working with Youth; Effective Implementation of Community Outreach Programs; and Leadership and Governance. She also had a guest speaker from the local organization Help and Shelter conduct a training session for the staff on â€œHow to Handle Reports of Abuseâ€?. Adia also researched and compiled information to create additional resource materials, including activities booklets to supplement the In School Youth (ISY) Abstinence Program sessions; a guide book for creating brochures and other publications; a website maintenance manual; and a guide book for creating skits. The publications were printed and distributed to A.I.D.S. staff members, who were also given soft copies to use.
â€œThe staff capacity building sessions were beneficial to the work we do at A.I.D.S. The topics covered were delivered in such a comprehensive manner that persons of all ages were able to learn from the handouts. After each session the staff was left with a renewed sense of responsibility not just for ourselves but we were also compelled to create new activities to attract the general public to increase HIV/AIDS awareness as we fight stigma and discrimination. As an organization we are always interested in gaining knowledge to elevate our staff and group members and found this capacity building conducted by Adia McPherson to be innovative, rejuvenating and necessary. It brought our staff closer and this is important for team building. We certainly learnt a lot and used the experience to better our lives and strengthen our HIV/AIDS education work in all our projectsâ€? reported Maria Mitchell, Staff Administrative Assistant and Volunteer Peer Educator, A.I.D.S.
Kwatamang Village Ground Raising Project
Nick Smith, GUY 20, is currently working with village leaders in Kwatamang, a small village in Region 9 between Annai and the Rupununi River, to raise a section of ground linking the East and West sides of the village. The village is divided by a low area that floods during rainy season. The FROG grant funds are being used to enhance the efforts of the community in this effort.
Guyana A.R.T.S. (Act, Reach, Think and Shine)
Mica Gaard, GUY 21, is utilizing a FROG grant to help support Guyana A.R.T.S., a youth development program that encourages teens (ages 13 to 16) to Act, Reach, Think, and Shine through the arts. This project is focusing on children in Black Bush, Corentyne, Region 6, who have very limited self-improvement opportunities and often do not attend school regularly. Mica wrote in her proposal, â€œCommunity members and I created Guyana A.R.T.S. to give the teens in Black Bush the opportunity to grow in a fun and nurturing environment during the summer holiday. Through visual arts, drama, music, and storytelling, students will learn about the arts, but also learn critical development skills such as teamwork, creativity, life skills, and leadership.â€?
FROG congratulates all of the grant receipts for 2010 on jobs well done. We look forward to continuing to support the efforts of RPCVs who are making a difference in the communities that they serve.
If you have a project idea to help support community development in Guyana, check out FROGâ€™s website for more information on how to apply for a grant.
A welcome surprise arrived in our Inbox recently.Â Edith Yoo, a Peace Corps volunteer and FROG Funds recipient, was kind enough to scan and email a number of thank-you cards written by her students.Â Â We could say more, but we’d rather let the postcards speak for themselves.Â For more information on Edith Yoo’s FROG Funded project in Canal #1, please see the project summary.
Some of the volunteers who participated in the Clean Water project shared their personal experiences:
From Phillip Chan, Jefferson Medical College (MS2)
Awesome trip this year!Â At first, I was a bit more anxious having a larger group with us, and trying to get everyone out to the village all in one piece.Â In the end, we ran into the most trouble on our U.S.-based Delta airlines flights, of all places!Â However, once we got to Guyana the week was an incredible success, and in retrospect it seems to have gone by so amazingly fast.Â The days were jampacked with teaching, playing with kids, local trips, purchasing construction materials, and paddling around on the river.Â In the evening, despite the fact that we had nothing but a kerosene lantern and headlamps to light our way, we managed to entertain ourselves with a few infamous nights of â€œCelebrityâ€? charades more mosquito coil smoke than can possibly be healthy for the human body.Â At night we slept 6 hammocks in a row up in the old primary school building, falling asleep to the sounds of frogs, crickets, howler monkeys, tropical birds, and what had to be the loudest sounds possible of bats copulating.Â Iâ€™d like to thank the St. Monica and Karawab school faculty and village leaders for all their help and incredible hospitality.Â A special thanks to my awesome fellow Jefferson med-students, yâ€™all were a blast to hang out with and made this trip more productive, fun, and entertaining than I ever couldâ€™ve imagined.Â My all time favorite highlight of the trip: boatracing with paiwari at the final farewell dinner, Americans vs. Guyanese.Â It came down to the wire (no thanks to myself) but ended in a dead on tie.
From Devesh Upadhya, Jefferson Medical College (MS2)
This was the best week of my life! There were so many new experiences, so many fun times with my fellow travelers, and the experience of learning something about myself in a totally different environment–not a bad outcome for my first service trip abroad. From the first evening, when we spent some time with Peace Corps volunteers learning about the challenges and rewards of working in the country, to the last day in the village when we futilely paddled our canoe in circles, every day was a learning experience. I found myself waking up every morning around 5 AM, full of energy. I had time to enjoy the quiet mornings, play with the children, eat a quick breakfast, and then dive into teaching math to the students; afterwards us volunteers would gather around the kerosene lantern, play games, and just talk while we inhaled the (possibly mind-altering) combined fumes of mosquito coils, DEET, and our kerosene stove boiling water. I am very thankful for the villagers’ hospitality, and for all the donations that helped make our trip a helpful contribution to the village!
From Kartik Dandu, Jefferson Medical College (MS1)
Spending my spring break in Guyana was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I knew that I would never get another opportunity like this, and I could not pass it up. Having a seasoned peace corps veteran like Phil around was the main reason why our trip went so smoothly (except for the whole Delta airlines debacle). In Georgetown, we were able to get a taste of the local culture which has a surprising number of American influences. Coming from America, Georgetown was a nice transition before we headed up to St. Monica. At the village, I had a lot of fun teaching the kids math/science during the day and playing games in the river with some of the same kids at night. Being able to provide the village with water tanks and a playground equipment was a nice bonus. I can’t say enough about the hospitality of the people in St. Monica. They were always willing to accommodate us and even cooked us three meals a day. In the end, our trip went by way too quickly, and I would definitely like to visit Guyana again in the future.
From Priya Sharma, Jefferson Medical College (MS1)
Spending a week inÂ Guyana andÂ St. Monica was one of the most gratifying experiences that I have ever had!Â Since this was myÂ first time traveling to a foreign country for a service project, I was extremelyÂ apprehensive about the obstacles that I wouldÂ face.Â However, I was completely amazedÂ by how easy it was to adapt to the Guyanese life!Â As soon as we arrived at the village, IÂ was overwhelmed by theÂ gratitude and hospitality of St. Monica,Â and we were able toÂ interact with theÂ villagers as ifÂ weÂ were from St. Monica itself.Â Everyday was a new learning experience, whether it was learning how to sleep in a hammock comfortably or learning how to balance a flashlight while acting out Yoda in our “Celebrity” game.Â My all time favorite experience was demonstrating a Grade 8 chemical extraction that required an Erlenmeyer flask filled withÂ distilled ethanol suspended over a Bunsen Burner,Â but was insteadÂ demonstrated with a cup filled with trimethylated spiritsÂ suspended in a pot ofÂ boiling water.Â Surprisingly, the experiment worked extremely well!Â Another amazing experience was paddling downstream onÂ theÂ Pomeroon only to find thatÂ it was impossible to paddleÂ back upstream!Â Â Needless to say, I quickly realized thatÂ paddlingÂ was much harder than it appeared!Â Â Overall, I had anÂ amazing trip.Â IÂ want to thank everyone in St. MonicaÂ for their unbelievable hospitality and I want to thank the Peace Corps VolunteersÂ who housed us in Georgetown during our transit.Â But most of all, I want to thank Phil and my fellow Jefferson students for puttingÂ together this amazing trip, it wasÂ one of the mostÂ rewarding experiences that I have ever had!Â I will have a piece of St. Monica in my heart for years to come!
RPCV Phillip Chan, Guy 15, was a repeat recipient of a FROG Grant. He returned to Guyana during his spring break from Jefferson Medical College with 5 of his classmates to continue on the work he started last year in St. Monica. Here is a summary of his project report…
The purpose of the trip was to build upon our previous work providing St. Monica residents with a cleaner source of drinking water.Â Our group was composed of six Jefferson Medical College students (three first-years and three second-years).Â We wanted to expand our project by installing additional rainwater catchment tanks in the neighboring village of Karawab as well as focusing on educating the community about proper water treatment and hygiene.Â We had maintained contact with village leaders since last yearâ€™s trip and wanted to follow up on our promise to duplicate the water collection system installed at St. Monica Primary School with a similar, smaller scale one at Karawab Primary.Â Plans had actually been made to complete this expansion last year but were limited by time constraints during our short time in-country.
Prior to our trip we held local fundraisers here in Philadelphia while consulting with consulting with contacts on the ground in Guyana.Â These included the tushao, Thomas Charles, St. Monica Primary Headmaster Nicholas Courtman, and Karawab Primary Headmistress Eve Samuels.Â In addition, we also received support from Peace Corps Response Volunteer Nicole Baker, who was briefly posted to St. Monica in January of 2010, and Drs. Andrea Thorpe and Karen Schneider.Â Dr. Thorpe is a member of the Rotary International Team which implemented a large-scale rainwater-catchment tank distribution in Kabakaburi (neighboring community on the Pomeroon) and who has been working with her organization to continue these efforts in St. Monica and Karawab during the summer of this year.Â Dr. Schneider is the leader of a Johns Hopkins medical team which works on the Pomeroon each year conducting large clinics for the main Amerindian communities, and thus has a good working knowledge of the health challenges and outcomes of this patient population.
We flew into Guyana on the morning of Sunday, March 21, and finally arrived in St. Monica late the following day on Monday, March 22.Â On Tuesday we started work at the school, conducting health outreach sessions on the importance of water treatment.Â We engaged the students in â€œfield experimentsâ€? to collect various water samples and utilized light microscopy to conduct basic wet mounts of our slides.Â At the request of Headmaster Nicholas Courtman, we also worked alongside the school faculty, assisting the secondary division students with their Secondary School Research Projects (SSRPâ€™s), required for the completion of their studies this academic year.
Splitting our group into three pairs of teachers, we spent the morning and afternoon teaching Math, English, Science, and Social Studies.Â While in Philadelphia, we had collected 4 used laptops for donation to the school, and were able to set these up using the schoolâ€™s existing solar array to supplement our teaching with appropriate computer programs (Excel, Word, digital encyclopedias, etc.).Â These activities formed the basis for our daily work at the village, and we continued them for the remainder of our time in St. Monica.
On Wednesday, the group traveled up to Karawab with the tushao to ensure the delivery of the water tanks and proper construction of the water tank trestle at Karawab Primary.Â We also conducted afternoon training sessions with Karawabâ€™s secondary division students on the prevention of HIV and other STIâ€™s, and a computer education class with the Karawab Primary School faculty using two of our donated laptops, which remained with the teachers for their further use at the school (like St. Monica, Karawab also has a solar panel array to power these computers).Â We concluded our Karawab trip with the handover of 100 lbs. of childrenâ€™s books collected in Philadelphia, providing a seed source for a new school library at the primary school (previously they had no extra reading books on hand for the students).
Edith Yoo, PCV Guy20, recently completed her project to enhance the after school homework help program at the Two Brothers Primary Accelerated Learning Center in Canal #1.
The money that we received from the FROG grant was used to purchase much needed books to aid students with their school work and help strengthen the Afterschool homework help at the learning center. With the successful implementation of the FROG grant, these impoverished secondary school students finally have access to much needed books.Â Monday thru Friday, from 4-5, students come to the learning center to get homework help, and to have access to the textbooks. Typically we will see 10-12 kids come on a daily basis to access different texts. Secondary school students have come from all along the West Bank to be able to have access to free textbooks.
The afterschool sessions are run by volunteers. Teachers from Two Brothers Primary School and members of the Two Brothers Primary Accelerated Learning Center have set up a rotation schedule in which one parent and one teacher is on hand to assist the students. The Peace Corps volunteer is always on hand to assist with whatever is necessary.
In addition a small portion of the FROG grant was used to purchase storybooks for the library and chapter books for the secondary school students to read. We are using the books to encourage reading, and have students practice it, because reading is crucial in your ability to become a successful student.
The afterschool homework with the secondary school students is an ongoing project and hopefully it will continue for many years to come at the Two Brothers Primary Accelerated Learning Center in Canal #1.
Mason Richards’ narrative
short film will be screening as part of the Cal Arts Film Directing Showcase 2010 on Friday, May 7th at 8pm at REDCAT Theatre in Los Angeles (631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 – (213) 237-2800.) All are encouraged to attend!
The film, centers around, Marjorie, an older Guyanese woman who struggles with loneliness, abandonment and sacrifice as she prepares for her Grandsonâ€™s move to America to be with his mother.The cast and crew consisted of local Guyanese non-actors, non-professionals and students in town working alongside a crew from Los Angeles. This film was made possible by fundraising and donations totaling $20,000 through a non-profit fiscal sponsor affiliate of the Peace Corps: Friends of RPCVs of Guyana (FROG). A major part of making this film is that the filmmaker would return to his home country, and share what he has learned and make a film â€œin the community – with the community.â€? This is the third narrative film to ever be shot in Georgetown, Guyana.
The La Grange Group of Concerned Citizens
The La Grange Group of Concerned Citizens (LGGCC) is a non-governmental organization that was established in 2002 by a group of civic-minded individuals who reside in the villages of La Grange, Bagotville, and Nismes, Guyana.Â The mission of the organization is to improve the standard of living for individuals living within these three communities. To this end, the group identifies specific problems and then formulates action-based solutions, such as running educational programs for local youths. In addition, the LGGCC has successfully implemented several community enhancement construction projects, such establishing the first National Library Branch in the village as well as a community playground.
As previously stated, the LGGCC was instrumental in establishing the first National Library Branch in the region.Â Although, the library was able to accommodate a significant amount of space for additional books and computers, the LGGCC has identified the need for an activity room within the library facility. The activity room would allow the LGGCC to run its educational projects and programs during library hours without disrupting students using the library. The LGGCC needs to raiseÂ $3,024 USD ($604,800 GYD) and thus far, the group has raised $1,500 ($300,000 GYD) from the assistance of American donors and the Guyanese Rotary Club.Â The LGGCC only needs $1,524 USD in order to accomplish its goal. Donate today, and help a Guyanese community help themselves.
Congratulations to Philip Chan, an RPCV from Guyana, who won our hearts – and our first small grant – with his proposal to assist a small villiage in Guyana in their effort to obtain clean drinking water.Â Please take a moment to read his magnificent project report below.
PROJECT REPORT FROM PHILLIP CHAN
(Slightly abridged by FROG)
The purpose of the trip was to implement a small scale clean water project in the Amerindian village of St. Monica.Â The decision to conduct this project was based on ongoing communication I had with my village since COS-ing regarding the rise in gastrointestinal complaints (vomiting and diarrhea) reported at the health post and village concerns about the increasingly polluted waters of the Pomeroon.Â Prior to the trip we conducted research on applicable clean water applications, including portable filtration systems, Life Straws, water purification packets, and river bank sand filtration.Â We consulted with the local Philadelphia chapter of Engineers Without Borders (regarding the river bank sand filtration method) and with Dr. Andrea Thorpe of the Miami Chapter – Rotary International.Â We also invited a guest speaker, Dr. Christiaan Morssink-president of the United Nations Associations of Greater Philadelphia to come to our school and give a lecture on water security in the developing world.Â Dr. Morssink had previously lived in Suriname, where he was head of the Department of Planning and Project Management in the Ministry of Health.Â Ultimately, we settled on rainwater collection as the application for use in our project, primarily for three reasons:
- Turbidity and conductivity data collected by a 2006 CDC team to the Pomeroon indicated rainwater as the cleanest natural source of water in the region.
- Village leaders identified rainwater collection as the desired source for clean water in the community, and already possessed resources to support the set up of a rainwater collection system on the central village compound (including four 450 gallon rainwater tanks).
- In conjunction with Rotary International, a successful larger-scale project to set up rainwater tanks had already been conducted in the neighboring village of Kabakaburi.Â Assessment plans to expand this project to St. Monica and Karawab were already underway, and our efforts would complement those of the RI team.
We arrived in Guyana on the morning of Sunday, March 22, and arrived in St. Monica the following day on Monday, March 23.Â On Tuesday we traveled with the tushao to Karawab at the request of Dr. Thorpe, who wanted to collect population and resource data for expansion of Rotary’s clean water project to this community.Â We were also planning on setting up a second water tank stand at the Karawab village compound, near the primary school and health post.Â However, due to time limitations we were restricted to setting up a single water tank stand at the St. Monica compound.Â Wednesday and Thursday were devoted to clearing the work site area and gathering materials for the stand, including 384 BMs of lumber donated from community members, representing nearly half of the necessary resources for the project.Â Construction commenced on Thursday, and was completed the following afternoon.Â Friday evening we had a sendoff dinner and party at the village community center.Â Paiwari was shared.Â I danced the Worm.
A number of Peace Corps Volunteers, Red Cross volunteers, and members of Youth Challenge Guyana and the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) joined forces to beautify a portion of the Georgetown seawall and spread the word about environmental friendliness and the importance of keeping public spaces clean.Â The Friends and RPCVs of Guyana donated funds to purchase gloves, garbage bags, and transportation so volunteers could clean up the seawall and hand out garbage bags to local vendors to encourage them to properly dispose of waste.
The event brought together several organizations to work for a common cause and helped spread the word for environmental friendliness.