Peace Corps volunteer John Williams of Lutherville, Md. is working with women in his community in Suriname to design, implement and maintain a rice-milling business to increase production efficiency and alleviate manual labor.
A portion of the funds for the project will be raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), a program that helps support Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide.
“A sustainable rice milling business would create a huge change,” said Williams, a graduate of Colgate University who has been living and working in Suriname since May 2011. “Not only would it relieve hundreds of women of back-breaking, time-consuming work, but also it would permit them time and energy for other essential tasks”
Members of the community will provide 40 percent of the funding for the project along with the transportation, materials, fuel and labor to build and operate the mill shelter, as well as transportation, room and board for the mill’s engineers who will provide technical training. Williams helped create a project committee amongst community leaders and is in the process of building group capacity and teaching business practices.
“Rice is the staple food in the diet of those living in the community. While each step in harvesting rice is strenuous, beating rice with heavy mortar and pestle is exhausting. Women endure this physical demand daily, pounding rice for hours to provide for their families. The magnitude of labor exerted is enormous compared to the small quantities produced and the demands of milling rice by hand leave little time for other pursuits,” said Williams.
In order 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 PCPP donation goes toward a development project.
About Peace Corps/Suriname: More than 420 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Suriname since the program was established in 1995. Currently, 27 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 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 8,073 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. 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 agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.