Local woman volunteering in S. America

BOSTON, Mass. – Peace Corps volunteer Catherine Cook, of Brookline, is working with her community in Suriname, a nation in South America, to construct waste facilities for 125 residents of a small village. This project was funded through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which raises money for Peace Corps volunteer community projects.

“Besides contributing all the labor for the construction of the latrine facilities, community members also acquired locally available materials,” said Cook, a community health education volunteer who majored in anthropology at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., before departing for Peace Corps service in Suriname.

“The project will include instruction in proper sanitation and hygiene as well as maintenance training in order to keep the facilities in proper working order for decades to come,” Cook said. “Discussing sanitation issues of this nature is very taboo in Suriname; however, the villagers have demonstrated their ability to move beyond sensitive topics in order to work towards better health and a better standard of sanitation for the community.”

To receive funding through the PCPP, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost 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 donation goes toward a development project.

More than 386 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Suriname since the program was established in 1995. Volunteers in this South American nation work in the areas of health education and community economic development.

Currently, 46 volunteers are serving in Suriname. Volunteers are trained and work in the following languages: Aucan, Dutch, Sranan Tongo, and Saramaccan.

President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. 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. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.