Difference between revisions of "Amanda Ree"

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Description of Service

DESCRIPTION OF PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER SERVICE Amanda Ree – Republic of Niger December 5, 2002 – January 30, 2006

Following a rigorous selection process, Amanda Ree entered training in the Natural Resource Management (NRM) program for Peace Corps in the Republic of Niger, West Africa. The intensive 11-week in-country training program focused upon: (1) The establishment of methodologies supporting the Food Security Program; rural health care practices, vegetable gardening, appropriate technology methodology, tree propagation, youth groups, agroforesty, field crop management, etc., (2) Hausa and French language immersion training, (3) development theory and history and (4) cultural integration including examinations into Islam, gender roles, the rural economy, etc. Having successfully completed training, Ms. Ree was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer on February 21, 2003. She was assigned to live and work in Karaye, a rural community of 2,000 people in the Tahoua region of Niger. Throughout the course of her 3-year service, Ms. Ree collaborated closely with the government of Niger and relevant non-governmental organizations in the expression of her numerous community-based projects and other initiatives aimed at intervention in her field. Dave McNally, Associate Peace Corps Director for NRM and Abdourahamane Hassane, Associate Peace Corps Director for Program and Training, were her immediate supervisors. During her three years of service, all work was done in the Hausa language.

Health Built Full-Scale Health Clinic for Rural Community – Having designed a grassroots fundraising campaign, Ms. Ree built a website and raised over $20,000 for the construction of a full-service health care clinic and well in her village. As project manager, she collaborated closely with the government of Niger to develop contractual agreements that will serve to bring the clinic into the overall government stratagem for health care in Niger so as to sustain the clinic for the 8,500 rural individuals who will utilize the clinic as their primary health care facility. Additionally, Ms. Ree worked with the GON to train a clinic manager and health committee to represent the effected villages. Ms. Ree built a website to accompany this project: www.karayeclinic.org Wrote and Designed Manual on Health-focused Youth Groups – Ms. Ree devised a 12-lesson plan manual, complete with culturally appropriate pagivoltes, discussions, Q&A, songs, games and activities to enable other volunteers to lead health-based youth groups in their respective communities in Niger. In two versions of the book, the manual was translated from English into the two main local languages, Hausa and Zarma, and distributed to other volunteers to amplify their own work. Health Conferences – Based on her manuals, Ms. Ree devised and implemented a project plan for volunteers wishing to hold more intense health conferences in their respective regions. AIDS Ride 2005 Logistics Coordinator – Ms. Ree worked to budget, plan and prepare all meals for the 60-member team of the week-long 260-kilometer bicycle ride between the cities of Maradi and Zinder. Sensibilzation meetings were held in 32 villages and touched over 18,000 individuals with messages of AIDS/HIV education and prevention.

Environmental Management, Agriculture and Agroforesty Tree Nursery – Having worked with governmental agricultural service agents, Ms. Ree trained a community member on the income-generation management of tree work so as to sustain his new trade well into the future – annually planting, selling, and distributing a 4,000 indigenous tree nursery of six different variatals. Pioneered Regional Soybean Initiative – Worked to educate regional government service agents and rurally-based men and women about soybeans to introduce the crop in the village’s lakebed as a profitable crop diversifier and a nutritionally heavy/economically appropriate alternative to animal proteins. Community Vegetable Gardens – Making use of the community’s little-utilized lakebed, Ms. Ree worked to support men and women in the development of income-generating vegetable gardens and the appropriate technology related to their management: foot pumps, chain-link fencing, and various natural composting, mulching and, insecticide measures.

Leadership Regional Representative - For the third year of her service, Ms. Ree worked as volunteer leader in the Konni and Tahoua region of Niger and served as the critical financial, communication, and safety/security link between the volunteers in the field and the Peace Corps bureau in Niamey. She worked to coordinate and manage staff, program budget, and administrative expenditures. Ms. Ree worked to arrange program logistics in the region and served as program liaison to develop and maintain working relationships with the region’s PCVs and the evolving “decentralized” government and its agencies. Additionally, she worked to support a team of 21 rurally-based volunteers in the coordination of project logistics and with service agents and government officials to design, implement and follow up projects in the health, natural resource management, education, and agriculture sectors. During this time, Ms. Ree supported volunteer safety, security, and health needs in the region and worked to maintain constant communication with the country headquarters in Niamey by continually producing and disseminating documentation on regional program activities and developments. President of Gender and Development Board (GAD) – For two years, Ms. Ree served as the board president for all GAD initiatives in Niger. Twice annually, she conceptualized, organized, and implemented community auctions to raise money for GAD projects. Under her tenure, GAD consistently broke fundraising records. Additionally, in this role, Ms. Ree worked with volunteers to research, plan, and implement gender and family-based projects in volunteer villages in every region of Niger. Editor of Peace Corps Niger Newsletter – Working entirely independently, Ms. Ree worked quarterly to gather relative content, design format, research, and write articles for The Galago, Peace Corps Niger’s quarterly newsletter.

Trainings Young Girls’ Group – In weekly village-based meetings, and for a one-year period during her service, Ms. Ree worked with 24 rurally-based girls between the ages of 12 and 15 on topics ranging from health care, income generation, and tree propagation. Working with a Konni-based health care worker, Ms. Ree organized and implemented three separate three-day field trips with the girls to the regional capital for intensive health-focused seminars and tours of the medical facility, schools, government offices, etc. Tofu Training and Tournee – In collaboration with her work on soybeans, Ms. Ree held a training for two women to develop skills necessary to make/sell tofu and other soy products. Following the training, Ms. Ree and one of the newly trained women launched a tournee in the region training 12 communities and over 1,500 rural women in the income-generation and dietary benefits of soy products and to enable other volunteers to logistically support the development of these efforts in their respective posts. Women’s’ Work Fair – Collaborated with two other PCVs, Konni-based doctors, teachers and other trained individuals in the conceptualization, organization and implementation of a three-day fair for 32 rural women from 18 communities. Topics included: income-generation skill development, money management, HIV/AIDS, family health and sanitation, women’s roles and rights under Islam, and girls’ education.

January 30, 2006

About Amanda Ree Today

External Links

Publications based on Peace Corps Experience

Children’s Health Manuals

Bill Gates once said, a community must first be healthy before any other philanthropic effort can take hold.

In a country like Niger, I believe that statement to absolutely be true. The rural population of Niger accounts for eighty five percent of its 11 million citizens – these people reside in the far removed villages and sheltered communities that few development agencies actually tread. Niger claims one doctor for every 75,000 inhabitants and, of these doctors, eighty five percent of them disproportionately live and work in Niger’s cities. Therefore, since volunteers are overwhelmingly placed in rural villages, we have a unique reach into the rural areas of the country and it’s most critically in need populations. One of the greatest strengths volunteers have is the ability to serve as a critical link for information and education.

Further, Peace Corps volunteers are armed with an inherent advantage of being able to spread the word among communities of which men are often back and forth on exode and women are rarely exposed to education let alone when it pertains to managing their health or that of their families.

With this in mind, and the love of my community and this country at heart, I designed the Health Manual for Children. The health manuals contain 12-lesson plans aimed at rural or city-based, literate or illiterate, boys and girls from the ages of 8-16. Each lesson plan takes into account local beliefs, value systems, myths and fears that determine the approach communities and individuals take to managing their health here in Niger. The lesson plans focus on the following applicable health issues: general hygiene, breastfeeding, family planning, the three food groups, Vitamin A, weaning foods, baby immunizations, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, malaria and individual/family health responsibility with a special and detailed focus on HIV/AIDS education and prevention. Each lesson plan is complete with:

 Discussion dialogue and questions written especially for Nigerien children of diverse backgrounds.  Games and activities providing an opportunity for abstract thought while drilling the messages home with fun messages.  Stories and pagivoltes directed toward both literate and illiterate populations. Stories have been written and designed by the Ministry of Health, the Peace Corps volunteer, Nigerien Peace Corps health sector staff members and regional health workers. Stories and content and have been tested on rural populations prior to the completion of final drafts.  Songs have been written to accompany each of the twelve lessons and were written specifically to enable children to have fun with the subject matter but also to further enable children to pass on what they have learned as the songs provide a valuable conversation piece.

Following two years in the village working with women and children, I have designed this manual in tandem with the two Konni region health care workers who proved to be invaluable resources in my own village. These women often led sensibilizations for my own girl’s group and served as animators for a health camp I organized for 42 village-based children.

This project aims to supply the 130 PCVs working in every sector in Niger, in addition to headmasters of schools and PCV counterparts working in the health sector across the country, with a training resource on which to build youth groups in their own respective regions or otherwise lead sensibility meetings and trainings in their posts.

What is more, local health counterparts have put their skills to use translating the manuals from English into the two dominant volunteer local languages – Hausa and Zarma – where PCVs work as to further empower volunteers to successfully pass the information along. Forty manuals, in addition to being distributed via CD for easy computer download, will be produced and distributed to each of the regional Peace Corps transit houses and will be available at the Information Resource Center in Niamey for volunteers to use in collaboration with local health workers, schoolteachers, etc.


(for all information above)