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Guyana GAFF Newsletter Winter 2016/2017


Dear new and old readers,

Come nah. GAFF gaw a neh look!

In order to reach a larger audience and make it easier to share with friends and family, GAFF is now in newsletter format! This means you can share this subscription link with people you think might want to stay in the know about everything Peace Corps Guyana! Moms and Dads rejoice! Also, when you become an RPCV, you don’t have to say goodbye to your all time favorite publication. You can either personally subscribe or simply visit the FROG (Friends & Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Guyana) website at because they will have a link to the latest version.

Now that’s out of the way, enjoy the WINTER 2016 GAFF ISSUE.

Your GAFF Staff: Gabriella, Sarah, Alex, Catherine, Steven & Liz


16-19: Mini-GLOW camp in Moruca, Region 1
25: Christmas
26: Boxing Day
31: New Year’s Eve


1: New Year’s Day
10: Jackie’s Birthday 


14: Valentine’s Day
23: Republic Day (Mashramani)

Mini Camp Bro
La Grange (Region 3)
PCV: Tony

This camp was aimed at helping boys ages 10-13 learn about three topics: self-esteem, goal-setting, and gender treatment. After the boys had attended all 3 sessions, they were paired up and given one of the topics they learned about to create an educational poster. Once they were done, we backed them with cardboard and laminated them! Now that the signs are ready, it is time to go into the community and donate the posters to local businesses, so the boys can see their work displayed around their community.

“I would like to thank the librarians at the Bagotville Community Center as well as the Bagotville Rotary club. They helped so much with camp logistics and providing food. The rotary helped with fundraising, and I am extremely grateful for all the work they continue to do in the community. Lastly, I can not thank my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers enough who helped lead these sessions throughout the day. They all know that they were lifesavers.

I am so thankful for everyone who helped make my dream a reality. This was the vision I had when I first started doing self-esteem lessons at my local community center at the beginning of the year. It is crazy to think that this may finally be a reality.”

Jungle Jewelry
Pomeroon River (Region 2)
PCV: Alyse

“In an effort to promote the artistic abilities of her students and community, Peace Corps Volunteer Alyse decided to create Jungle Jewelry – a venture aimed at marketing locally made rings. The rings are made from the seeds of the Awara tree (a palm native to the Amazon Rainforest) and come in all sizes and designs. All proceeds go towards the advancement of community art classes for both students and adults. They have already purchased tools and made a work table with the funds they have garnered. Alyse is currently exploring local and overseas marketing opportunities to have Jungle Jewelry serve as an ongoing source of income for community members!”


Since the above was released, I have had the pleasure of meeting with the Sales Manager of the Marriott, who decided that they want to sell my community’s rings in their souvenir store! Along with that good news, there are a few craft-store vendors that have expressed interest in buying them to sell. It’s amazing how a little hobby/art-project can turn into a viable community opportunity for creative development and supplemental income.

I am hoping the Awara comes back into season SOON because I am two pages of custom orders behind and now we have to start expanding our program! But I’m not complaining!If anyone wants more information, you’re welcome to message me or search around on the Jungle Jewelry Facebook page: I welcome any insightful ideas on how I can market these more efficiently and provide positive incentives to the community artists

The Bead Club
Mahaica (Region 4)
PCV: Judy


In 2015, The Ministry of Social Protection asked for a Peace Corps Volunteer to assist at Mahaica Children’s Home. It was their goal to build a greenhouse/shadehouse and get the children and staff involved. Try as I might, it was like pulling teeth to stir up interest in this project. It was discouraging. However, months later, what started out as a fun activity (making beads and jewelry) soon evolved into a full-blown project, teaching skills the children can use now and in the future.


The use of the PC resource: Doing a Feasibility Study: Training Activities for Starting or Reviewing a Small Business (a copy is in the PC office and online) has been significant. My experience as far as projects go, is that they evolve by staying open to possibilities and letting my community (MCH) inform me as to what they want. They may not always know what they want, but by staying in tune, listening, and learning from them, the project will evolve all on its own. Mine did.

As for the beads…I can assure you each bead is handcrafted with enthusiasm!

Community Day Health Fair
Fort Wellington (Region 5)
PCV: Taylour & Allycia

After weeks of planning, PCVs Taylour Altson and Allycia Kleine, along with Fort Wellington Hospital staff and Region 5 Department of Health, put on a Community Day Health Fair. This was the first time Region 5 has organized such an event and they hope to repeat the event in years to follow.

On November 11th, the Fort Wellington’s Inaugural Community Day took place. Over 300 people in the community came out to support the hospital’s initiative of “Healthy Living Starts Here!” Eight tents were set up at a community center ground. These included a Chronic Disease/Nurse’s Tent, Blood Drive Tent, Physiotherapy Tent, Dental Tent, Pharmacy Tent, Chest/TB Clinic Tent, Public Health Tent, and Kids Tent. Community members spent the day exploring the tents. They were able to have their blood pressure and blood sugar taken, as well as their height and weight measured for BMI in the Chronic Disease Tent. They learned about dental hygiene and were screened for cavities in the Dental Tent. And kids had the opportunity to play several games and create crafts that were hand crafted by Taylour Alston and Allycia Kleine.

The activities for the Kids Tent incorporated various health topics covering oral health, nutrition, mental health, and health care worker-patient relationships. Taylour and Allycia created activities including, “Pin the Needle on the Syringe,” which was meant to lessen children’s fear of needles and getting shots, “Crafty Tooth Creatures,” which entailed children gluing teeth to various cut out creatures that they decorated and then attached a ribbon to represent and encourage flossing. The children were also able to make stress balls out of balloons and rice and take a chance on throwing a tooth brush through “Tiffany Tooth’s” mouth, a cardboard cut out encouraging tooth brushing or knocking down unhealthy drinks with a ball and Coke and Trill bottles filled with rice. Overall, the kids tent was a success!



To top the event off, PCV Antonia Rangel-Caril was asked to travel to Region 5 to lead Zumba sessions throughout the event to encourage physical activities. Men and women of all ages participated in the dance fitness.

Welcome Jurgen!

Proud to present the newest addition to the PC Guyana family

Jurgen Emmanuel Ikechi Alexander was born on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 6:50AM to Adannaa and Nigel Alexander.

He weighed 3.1kg and measured 53cm long.

How do you pronounce that name and what does it mean, you ask?

Jurgen is pronounced “Yur – gen”. It’s the name of a famous footballer (Jurgen Klinsmann) that Nigel liked growing up. It’s also the German name for George, which actually means farmer. And it just so happens that little Jurgen’s great great great grandfather on my mother’s side was from Germany. Emmanuel (and this particularly spelling is from the New Testament) means God with us. Ikechi is Igbo (Nigerian) and means God’s power. Alexander is actually from Greek origin and means defender of mankind.He’s too cute and we marvel every day at God’s blessing on us.

Adannaa and Nigel

WELCOME GUY 29Our first group of Environmental Volunteers!


Back row, from left to right: Jon, Matthew, Thomas, Sam, Carolyn, Kirsten, Dan, Dylan, Lance

Jon Witkop
Site: Shea (Region 9)
Hometown: Glendale, CA
University and Degree: Environmental Science
Hidden talent: “tech-decking” (finger skate boarding)

Matthew Wider
Site: Rewa (Region 9)
Hometown: Two Harbors, MN
University and Degree: Northland College in Wisconsin, BA Natural Resource Management
Michigan Tech, Peace Corps Masters International in Forestry.
Hidden talent: I love to do the electric worm at fun gatherings

Thomas Saleh
Site: Nappi (Region 9)
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
University and Degree: McGill University, Environmental Science, and Economics
Hidden talent: Rain summoning

Samantha Rock
Site: Mabaruma (Region 1)
Hometown: Milton, VT
University and Degree: St. Lawrence University, Conservation Biology
Hidden talent: Flipping pancakes

Carolyn (Cara) Rohdenburg
Site: Annei (Region 9)
Hometown: Meredith, NH
University and Degree: University of New Hampshire, BA Languages. Antioch University of New England, Masters International in Resource Management and Conservation.
Hidden talent: Unknown because it’s so well hidden

Kirsten McLead
Site: White Water (Region 1)
Hometown: Seattle, WA
University and Degree: Central Washington University, BA in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Policy
Hidden talent: Maker of a mean macaroni and tomato soup

Daniel Coffee
Site: Warapoka (Region 9)
Hometown: Torrance, CA
University and Degree: UC San Diego, Environmental Systems
Hidden talent: Maker of a mean batch of pancakes.

Dylan Karl
Site: Marurarau (Region 9)
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
University and Degree: Humboldt State University, Wildlife
Hidden talent: Martial artist (Aikido and boxing)

Lance Caldwell
Site: Fairview (Region 9)
Hometown: Mountain Home, AR
University and Degree: Arkansas Tech University, Wildlife Biology
Hidden talent: Can eat all the partially popped popcorn kernels at the bottom of the bowl



As an education volunteer in Hopetown, Region 5,Veronica Lewis has worked very hard to create engaging workbooks for the students of Grades 1-3. The success of this project has quickly spread across the region, with many other headteachers asking to use the books in their schools.

She was also successful in securing funding to build a fence that has been in the works for over 20 years. The fence will help keep the children of Hopetown Primary safe for many years to come.

On describing life in Guyana:

Hot, diverse, and everything’s just now

Favorite saying:

me nah able.

Favorite Guyanese food:

Gonna sound weird but bake stuffed with channa and some sour

Current craving:

Oh man. Almonds, berries, and peaches!

Why did you join Peace Corps?

I’ve wanted to ever since I was 11 and a friend’s mom came to talk to my class about serving in Ethiopia. It was a great opportunity to see the world and do something good.

Miss most from home?

The changing seasons, weirdly. Thought I hated winter but living here has made me miss it. That and hot water!

Odd things found in Guyana from home:

Feta cheese, dark chocolate, and almond butter



When did you serve and where was your site?

2011-2013 in Essequibo at the Columbia Health Post.

What is a favorite memory of your time in Guyana?

Holding my 2-year-old host sister & rocking her to sleep in the hammock.What are you doing now?

I am a Labor & Delivery nurse for the Indian Health Service on the Navajo Reservation.

Any advice for current PCVs?

Things will happen “just now”, be patient, try not to have too high of expectations, your service is what you make of it.

Do you keep in contact with any Guyanese or RPCVs?

Yes! I talk to my host family at least once a month and one of my best friends is my PCLP (Peace Corps Life Partner) aka my closest friend from Peace Corps.

What do you miss most about living in Guyana?

The slower pace of life and more intentional moments with people (and hammock time!)

First thoughts that come to mind when you describe life in Guyana.


Did you leave any special contributions that you’re particularly proud of?

I was part of the GAD group that started Camp GLOW so I love to see how is evolves and changes throughout the years.

What food do you miss the most?

Pumpkin curry and roti.

Have you returned to Guyana since ending service? Or are you thinking about a trip back?

Yes. I just went back for a wedding in August.

Favorite Guyanese saying?!

“Oh me mo ma”

What was your MVP throughout service? (most valuable possession)

My bike … I rode that thing everywhere!

Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, is an exciting time in Guyana filled with fireworks, brightly-lit parades and homes filled with the glow of hundreds of diyas (clay lamps, containing a cotton wick dipped in ghee or other oils) shining bright on the darkest night of the year.


Hindus all over the world celebrate Diwali to honor the return of Lord Rama and his family after 14 years of exile. After Rama defeated the demon king, villagers lit diyas to illuminate their path home and celebrate the triumph of good over evil. The holiday also celebrates Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity. Many families light the diyas in a path towards their homes to encourage her blessings to enter.

In Region 5, Rosignol Primary School placed first in the regional Rangoli competition. Rangoli is an ancient art form, where colored rice is laid out in intricate patterns. These colorful Diwali decorations are thought to bring good luck.



Haley’s Guyanese Greek Salad


  • Egg, hard-boiled

  • Potato, boiled and chopped

  • Tomatoes

  • Cucumbers

  • Carrots

  • Bora, boiled

  • Cheese

  • Pear




  • Mix all ingredients together. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and Greek dried seasoning. (You can replace the vinegar with lime, or try local seasoning: dried oregano, basil or chives) Toss together and store in the fridge!

Enjoy as a healthy lunch or dinner!

Missy’s Drunken Chicken



  • Chicken

  • Potato

  • Carrot

  • Favorite beer

  • Cajun seasoning

  • Salt & pepper


  • Season your chicken with cajun spices, salt, and pepper.

  • Dice the potato and carrot and put into the cooking pan with the chicken.

  • Pour half the bottle of beer into the pan

  • Roast for about an hour at 400 degrees F. Every 20 minutes turn the chicken and vegetables over.

Enjoy with rice and the rest of that beer!

Homemade Hummus



  • 1 can of chickpeas (or 2 cups soaked and drained)

  • Chopped or roasted garlic, about 2-4 cloves

  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Mash up your chickpeas with a fork or put into a plastic bag and pound with you hand

  • Add garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil

  • If using a blender, add all ingredients and slowly add 1/4 cup – 1 cup of water until hummus is at desired consistency


How to get there & What to keep in mind


Want to experience one of the most unique New Year’s celebrations in the world? Head over to neighboring Suriname for Owru Yari, or Old Year’s, to celebrate the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017!On December 31st, people light long chains of firecrackers (to scare away bad spirits), dance in the streets, eat and drink and have a great time. It’s the largest event of the year in Suriname and one you won’t want to miss!

Keep in mind:


  • Most everything shuts down, so don’t assume places will be open.

  • Give yourself some time to explore: the city is beautiful!

  • Pack earplugs! It gets loud!

  • They speak Dutch, though many in the capital speak English too.

  • Have fun!

Getting there:

  • Overland: Get to Region 6. From there, take a minibus to Moleson Creek (cost will vary based on departure point), where a ferry runs to South Drain in Suriname. Call for schedules(+592 339-2744): the earlier you reach the better! Cost for the ferry is approximately $17 USD return.
    Be warned: customs is a bit chaotic. Once in Suriname, you can take a shared taxi to Paramaribo for about $25-35 USD ($100-$140 SRD). You can also book a service to take you all the way from Georgetown to Paramaribo (Bobby’s Minibus or Johnny’s Bus and Taxi).

  • Flight: Surinam Airways flies from Cheddi Jagan to Paramaribo’s Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport in Paramaribo: costs and schedules vary by day. Trans Guyana Airways flies from Ogle airport to Zorg en Hoop Airport in Paramaribo on daily flights (check their website for schedules). Price is about $300 USD round trip; you can pay at the airport or at selected travel agencies in GT.

Where to stay:


  • You will need your yellow fever card to enter the country.

  • Go to the Suriname embassy: you will need a Suriname tourist card to enter the country (and before you book a flight). This costs $35 USD (exact bills only) and you also will need a copy of the photo page of your passport and the page with your Guyana visas. 


  • 7 Suriname dollars = approx. 1 USD.

  • You can change money with people outside of the ferry terminal, or before you leave in New Amsterdam. You can also check with your bank to see if they will change Guyanese into Suriname dollars for you.

  • Republic Banks are in Suriname, so you can use your Republic bank card.

  • ATMs are widespread in general, so you can use your American cards too – Remember to tell your bank you’re traveling there!

“Miss this bai has sense like goat!”
From Sarah (GUY 27)

“Ahhhh, why are the marabunta chasing me”
Grade 4 student: Miss, it’s because you are white.

From Aly (GUY 27)

“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.”From Molly (GUY 28)

“Sir speed speed like road runner”

When Tony wore his Minnesota hat to school:
“Why do you have a bunch of Christmas trees on your hat?”
“Sir, you know Prince?”
“Yes! He is from Minnesotaaaah” (insert Tony’s voice)
“Um…he died”

From Tony (GUY 27)

Third Goal Tips

From my Blog it Home experience

Gabriella here

– in October, I visited Washington, DC for a week with the other seven winners of Peace Corps’ annual Blog It Home competition. It was an incredible trip, and my favorite part was a meeting at the White House offices with members of the Digital Office staff. I’d like to share some of their insights with you – we all can become better Third-Goalers!


Michelle Obama’s photographer Amanda Lucidon gave some photo tips:

  • “Show up early and stay late” – oftentimes the best photos are in the anticipation and reactions, rather than the thing itself.

  • Look at the edges of a scene. What’s happening?

  • Go for visual variety: tight, medium, and wide; low, middle, and high.

  • Think of your camera as a ticket and a shield. Get comfortable carrying it around and those around you will get comfortable too!

White House videographer Hope Hall gave some great general advice:

  • Connect people with purpose, and meet them where they are.

  • How can your obstacles become teachers?

  • Strive for authenticity.

  • You have the key to the walled city – your community – and not many others do. How will you take others there?

Kori Schulman, White House Digital Office, gave some social media tips:

  • Think about mediums. Who am I trying to reach? What conversations are already happening that I can tap into? What people or platforms can I collaborate with?

  • Can I let my community participate? (Instagram “takeovers”, etc)

  • Stick with the gold and build the structure around it.

  • Host files natively in apps when you can, instead of linking to them.

  • Cross-post to cover more “surface area.”

  • To make content easier to view and find, rename photos before posting (ie. Instead of 74839.jpg, call it womanwithmatapi.jpg) and compress videos with a video compression app.

Saradi Peri, speechwriter to President Obama, talked about writing:

  • Grammar and structure are incredibly important tools.

  • Outline first: what is the one idea you want to get across? Build everything around that one main idea.

  • Find your voice: how do you think? Your voice is the natural style of you “thinking aloud”

  • Tell a story in a way that pulls people in, and advances your main idea; tell it honestly, with integrity and unique details.

Now get out there, and share Guyana with the world!





This year, the HIV/AIDS Task Force organized a poster and poem competition for World AIDS Day. Peace Corps Volunteers throughout the country taught HIV/AIDS lessons in their respective primary and secondary schools and NGOs and then had participants design posters around the theme of “Stomp out Stigma”. Participants also had the option of writing a poem around the same theme. The project’s goal was to create a better understanding of HIV/AIDS and people living with HIV/AIDS among Guyanese youth.


In total, we had 14 PCVs from regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 10 conduct a World AIDS Day activity in their communities and over 500 students and community members participate in the project!


In the future, we will add pre and post tests to the lesson plans in order to get a better understanding of their efficacy. This year, attendance sheets and a post-project volunteer survey were used for evaluation purposes.

The task force was happy with the level of enthusiasm exhibited both by the volunteers and the participants.

Our task force members feel that the poster and poem competition was a more comprehensive and useful project than past World AIDS Day activities, and plan to continue it in the future.

As a task force, we would like to thank all of the PCVs who participated in our World AIDS Day activity.
We were so impressed by all of the poster and poem submissions and the amount of hard work and creativity that went into every single one. We appreciate all of your efforts in facilitating an HIV/AIDS lesson plan and hope that your students and community members enjoyed it. Last but not least, congratulations to each of the poster winners! A calendar featuring all of the poster winners will be awarded in the upcoming new year.



VAC’s next meeting is on December 13th. Volunteers, please feel free to contact any VAC member if you have any issues that you would like to be brought up. We will gladly represent them.


We ended our last meeting with stories of positive staff support and it was well received. We would like to end every meeting on this note, so we ask that you continue to send in your positive staff interactions. Thanks!

Remember, the meetings are open to anyone who wants to sit in.

Sent from my hammock,

ITC / IRC Task Force

Peace Corps Guyana (Information Communication Technology/Information Resource Centre) ICT/IRC is committed to providing access to relevant ICT resources. The organization accomplishes its mission by acting as a liaison between PCG staff and PCV’s.


We are in the process of gathering information from fellow PCV’s about what you would like to see on our site i.e., how-to videos, links to technology websites. If you have any ideas, please let us know.

We are also looking for another PCV from GUY 28 to serve on our task force. If you are interested or have ideas for our site, please email us at



Peace Corps Guyana!

We at PSN hope that you are all having a wonderful time at your sites, integrating, making memories and new friends. We would like to introduce our newest members from GUY 28: Gabrielle Swindle, Allycia Kleine, and Taylour Alston. They were elected by their GUY 28 peers at Reconnect.

Our GUY 29 representative is Thomas Salah. In August, PSN members completed a PSN Training with Nurse Jean, in collaboration with the Counseling and Outreach Unit (COU) at PC Headquarters. In addition to completing the training, we took an oath of confidentiality. We are now “officially” here to support you! Feel free to reach out to anyone of the seven PSN members if you would like peer support, or just to talk things out.

We would also like to officially welcome the ten members of GUY 29 to Peace Corps Guyana! May new adventures, memories, and laughter greet you with every day.


Aly, Eneka, Vee, Lori, Gabrielle, Taylour, Allycia, and Thomas

Tips to Support Each Other:


1. You never really know what another volunteer is going through…something you may think isn’t a big deal, may be a big deal to them. Validate their feelings.

2. Don’t judge a person based on their behaviors of one day… it could be their bad day – and we all will have bad days during training and service.

3. Practice deep listening: don’t interrupt with your own story, ask clarifying questions, be aware of your body language,

4. Practice Empathy vs. Sympathy

5. Never start suggestions with, “Why haven’t you…” .

6. Recognize something that works for you, may not work in their situation.

7. Don’t feel you have to fix your friend’s problems… just being there is supportive.

8. Yes we are all from the USA… but we are all from different parts of the USA and how we handle things may be different than someone from north/south/east/west.

9. If you aren’t in the right “Head space” or don’t have time… be honest – you are no good to someone (or yourself) distracted and overwhelmed. “You can’t pour from an empty cup”.

10. Remember: We hurt each other with how we speak sometimes – use the “ouch” approach.

11. Be aware of your own cultural bias/norms.

12. Be intelligent about the Peace Corps Grapevine… respect privacy, don’t be a branch on the vine.

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