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Guyana GAFF Newsletter Spring 2017





GAFF staff would like to start with a huge hello to our readers!
Thanks for taking a little hammock time with us.

GAFF is now online – for the world to read – and ANYONE can subscribe to this newsletter. Check out our spot on the web here, and share away!

Here’s a taste on what you’ll read about in this edition:
A GAFF sesh with the new CD, Kury.
Holidays are back: Mash and Phagwah.
Welcome spot for GUY 30!
Smoothie recipes with market fresh ingredients.
Volunteers are whining all over the Caribbean.
Love from your taskforces and committees – as always!
An awesome Goal Three example & story!
Other bits to pepper your day.

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



All month – Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

1 – Labour Day (Guyana)
3 – World Press Freedom Day
5 – Arrival Day (Guyana)
14 – Mother’s Day (USA)
12 – International Nurses’ Day
15 – International Day of Families
26 – Independence Day (Guyana)
29 – JFK’s birthday
30 – Memorial Day (USA)


All month – Gay & Lesbian Awareness Month
1 – International Children’s Day
5 – World Environment Day
8 – World Oceans Day
18 – Father’s Day (USA)


3 – CARICOM Day (July 3)
4 – American Independence Day (USA)
8 – 16 – Peace Corps Guyana Camp GLOW
30 – International Day of Friendship


Moruca Mini-GLOW (Region 1)

An interview with PCVs Eneka Lamb and Amber Enyart

Briefly describe your mini-GLOW.

Amber and Eneka: Our mini-GLOW was held in Waramuri, in Region 1, from 16-19 December. It was open to any girls from Waramuri [Amber’s site] or Santa Rosa [Eneka’s site] and our mentors were girls from these areas who attended Camp GLOW last year. We led the mini-GLOW, and Jackie and Gabby were two resource PCVs who helped us out.

How did the mini-GLOW come to be?

Amber: Two girls from Waramuri were mentors for Camp GLOW, and one approached me on my porch and said “I would love if we could do a mini-GLOW in Moruca.” (That’s the subdistrict that includes both Waramuri and Santa Rosa villages.) I replied that we would need to get mentors and leaders together. The girls asked all GLOW girls from that past year to be mentors. We kicked off with a brainstorming session at my place – I asked the girls, do we want to include Santa Rosa girls? They did, and the Waramuri girls contacted the Santa Rosa girls, and really got the ball rolling from there.

How was the community involved?

Amber and Eneka: The girls in Waramuri really took the initiative in deciding to have the camp. Also, to travel between the villages involves a 9 mile drive on a dirt road, and we knew we would need reliable transportation for both communities to be involved. We approached a bus driver who is the uncle of a mentor, and he gave us a half-off discount for multiple weekends. We and the girls held walk-arounds to raise money for everything we would need for camp, and the local community also donated foodstuffs before and during camp. Local aunties, the Waramuri village council, and some local boys helped build and stock our outdoor bathing areas and kitchen and hang hammocks for the girls when they arrived. The head chef for the school feeding program came and helped us cook one day of camp!


What was the most challenging part of planning the camp? Of the camp itself?

Eneka: For me, I had too-high expectations of mentors. I assumed that some basic skills of planning were there and they were not.

Amber: For me, it was the details, for everything from fundraisers to camp itself. Who brings the hammock ropes? Where will we find toilets? Whose permission do we have to get for this fundraiser? And on and on. During camp? The cooking. We cooked outside on open fires and it took forever. Also, we had mentors initially not attend sessions so they could help with things like cooking and cleaning, but then it meant that mentors weren’t mentoring because they were too busy working.


What was the most rewarding part?

Amber: Actually executing it, and seeing the impact. Two of the girls I know from the Waramuri football team were also GLOW girls, and they are the too cool for school type. The day after camp ended they played a tournament in Santa Rosa, and on the way there they sang every song, chanted every chant, from camp. When they got to Santa Rosa they looked over and saw a passing girl and said “Hey, that’s our GLOW sister.”

Eneka: Getting to know the girls, and seeing them grow over the course of the camp. Their plans, their dreams, and even the way they talked about themselves changed – I saw this more with mentors because I had a closer relationship with them. We learned a lot about their lives, which could be hard much of the time. We saw some girls go from zero to hero. There were lots of sweet moments.

What do you think the main takeaways were for the girls? Have you seen an impact?

Amber and Eneka: A lot of it was female empowerment – we can do anything, let’s literally scream it – and they still do. “Girls can do – anything!!!” It was exciting for them to be a part of this group!

Amber: One girl who attended camp moved out of the community recently. She called me and thanked me for the mini-GLOW experience and said, “When I grow up I want to be the woman you are.” That was pretty amazing.

Eneka: I’m not sure if I can say this is directly related to the camp, but one girl recently sent me a selfie where she was flexing her arm and told me she’d just gotten her HPV shot. I was really proud of her. Oh, and there was that one girl who, after we had them run around in the rain collecting dead coconut branches for a bonfire, said “Miss! That was the most fun I have had in my entire life!”

Amber and Eneka: Women have a tendency to break one another down – but after the mini-GLOW, we saw more celebrations of one another. They learned that it’s ok that others are better at some things than you, and you are better at some things than others – you have to build each other up. Otherwise you’re like crabs in a barrel climbing over one another to escape.


What advice would you give to other PCVs planning mini-GLOW or BRO camps?

Amber and Eneka: IT’S WORTH IT! But it’s very taxing. One make or break is your mentors. Be choosy, and also be aware of what you’re asking of them – is it realistic? You’ve gotta have fun, and roll with it! And, if the community is not asking for it, don’t do it. Because you need a lot of buy-in to make it a success.

PC Guyana welcomes a NEW Country Director!
Welcome to Guyana, Kury! We already love you!


Setting: Liz runs into Kury one afternoon in the kitchen when she is simply trying to enjoy a bowl of oatmeal and an apple. Liz loves a good chat over well balanced meals, so she sprung for it!

And of course, being the wonderfully up-for-anything human that she is, Kury jumped right in!

This gaff sesh has been condensed for clarity.

>> PCV Liz & Country Director Kury in her office

Liz: What will you be trying to focus on for these initial months of being in Guyana?

Kury: I’m Interested in promoting the fabulousness of volunteers! I want to learn more about what volunteers lives are like, the work they do, and share this out to the wider Guyanese community, particularly at the government level. It’s one of my goals to get people to recognize and understand the value added from peace corps volunteers. Especially since the government in Guyana has recently transitioned, there is an opportunity to get them reinvested in utilizing PCVs. One idea is having volunteers present the great work they’ve done to government officials; helping them learn further about our support to their communities.I also want to strengthen in-house management structures; reinforcing them with the help of our volunteers. The goal is to help task forces function more efficiently as a means to inform the direction of programming and management for PC Guyana. I’m hoping for more volunteer investment and increased transparency among everybody in the Peace Corps Guyana Family (volunteer and staff alike).

Liz: Love it! So, why did you return to peace corps?

Kury: I’ve wanted to for a while because I feel like peace corps gave me my start. It brought me to Africa for the first time. The journey fascinated and humbled me about the rights and privilege I grew up with; enabling me to gain respect for people, who while perceived to have less, are contently and gracefully living life as they know it. The values I gained in peace corps informed my career in international affairs, and the rest is history. So, I wanted to return the favor, giving back to where I got my professional start close to 30 years ago and hopefully positively impact the lives and service of serving volunteers.


Liz: Tell me a little bit more about your service!

Kury: I was a volunteer in Equatorial Guinea (EG) from 90-92 and Namibia from 92-94. In both locations, I lived in capital cities. First I was a teacher and then I extended to be a teacher trainer. I enjoyed teaching English to children but I loved teaching teachers. Teachers want to learn, actually wanting to work on developing their English language skill. As children can lose interest, adults are there with a purpose. So I really dove into working with adults. Peace Corps has changed a lot since my service. The goals are the same, but how it’s done has come a long way. For example, I trained in Cameroon for my 3-month PST, not even in the country of my service! I had one week of cross-cultural integration (home stay) before my service began. I had a much smaller group of volunteers, in EG I trained with 9 people and there was a total of 20 volunteers in-country (including our training group). In Namibia, I trained with 20 people with around 80 volunteers in-country at the time.

Liz: Interesting! So, any piece of advice for us 21st century volunteers?

Kury: Choose your adventure. Do you. Life never stops. Every day you’re breathing, you’re living. Use it to your advantage!

Liz: Thanks so much for gaffing with us!

Kury: Always happy to do so!

Kury has already done a great job at reaching out to current volunteers and learning (and sharing!) more about their Peace Corps experiences.
Check out her stories from her trip to Region 9!

I spent an amazing week connecting briefly with the lives and work of some incredible, trailblazing volunteers based in Region 9 (one of the most remote in the country). One such firecracker is Gabrielle, a Community Education Volunteer swiftly coming to the middle of her service in Guyana. Her energy and passion emit from every pore the moment you meet her – starting with an infectious smile; leading to one of the best hugs I’ve ever had. Then there’s the excitement and joy when she introduces you to her Headmistress, counterpart, and colleagues; tells you about her work supporting the capacity building of teachers at her school; not to mention the passion and pride behind the creation of the school’s first reading library due in large part to her unwavering commitment and tireless effort.

Thank you, Gabrielle, for sharing a little slice of your life and service with me.


About 45 minutes from Lethem, the capital of Region 9, is a picturesque little village, population 767 (or so says the Toshau). One of the newer inhabitants is Thomas, a GUY 29 member (first Peace Corps/Guyana Environment group). As we drove up on Thomas’ little slice of heaven, we were met by his lovely Auntie (aka Host Mom). She immediately took me on a tour of her property, which hosted an impressive amount of various fruit trees (from what I recall – orange, cashew, pear (aka avocado) and lemon). The pride on her face as she told me about her crops and then gushed about her “Son’s” own vegetable garden (also amazing). I then had the pleasure of being introduced to Thomas’ work in the village; hosting a Wildlife Club right next to the primary school and supporting the Head Mistress filling unexpected teaching needs at the school. A highlight of my time there was meeting with the group of children that participate in the Wildlife Club. Their wonderful smiles told me all I need to know about the future success of this program.

Mashramani 2017 

Celebration with dignity, liberty, and greater unity;
Promoting a green economy (Guyana Chronicle).


Celebrating the anniversary of Guyana becoming a Republic through vibrant colors, steel bands and masquerades, fueled by the rhythms of chutney, soca and calypso music.

GUY 30 embracing the spirit of Mashramani in Essequibo!

Playin’ Phagwah!


“One of my favorite things about getting to experience the Guyanese culture is the opportunity to take part in new holidays. Phagwah stole my heart as my favorite holiday because it is a day celebrating love. Hearing how they throw colored powder on each other so you can’t see if a person is black, white, brown, red, etc., everyone is colorful, and it doesn’t matter your color, religion, race or gender, all that matters is that we love one another. I will hold the festival of love, festival of color, in my heart forever.” – Molly Therese Guy 28

“To celebrate a day where religion, ethnicity, and nationality is engulfed by a sea of color and love. Phagwah is probably the best way to start off our service in Guyana. It’s a reminder that communities can be brought together and we are all one big human family.”  – Vianssa Armendariz Guy 30

GUY27 reflects pon we time in Guyana


GUY27 recently had our bittersweet close of service (COS) conference to take a look back at what we’ve experienced and accomplished. As well as a look forward at what the future holds.

Here are some reflections as most of us say goodbye to Guyana.

Name: Alex Farugia
Site/Region: Dartmouth, Region 2
What advice do you have for future volunteers? One day at a time
Quote: Sooo close…

Name: Judy White
Site/Region: Mahaica, Region 4
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Wear a partial after it was stolen by a mysterious pack rat.
Quote: Happiness is an inside job.

Name: Mitchell Fischer
Site/Region: Mabaruma, Region 1
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Water cow (manatee) curry
Quote: It’s all fun and games until you COS.

Name: Zach Keefer
Site/Region: Black Bush Polder, Region 6
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Labba
Quote: How the weather?

Name: Gabriella Miyares
Site/Region: Santa Rosa Village, Region 1
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Drink homemade potato wine out of a bleach bottle.
Quote: One beer nah nuff. Two beer, yuh balance.

Name: Tony Skow
Site/Region: LaGrange, Region 3
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Chicken foot stew
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Put on my own boy’s camp
Quote: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Name: Cassie Roth
Site/Region: Fyrish, Region 6
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Tacuma worm
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Be comfortable teaching sex ed and mental health
Quote: Don tek stress

Name: Liza Rudd
Site/Region: Mahaica, Region 4
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Fish head and its eyes
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Live with bats (a lot of them)
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Find a neighbor or host family you love (even if they weren’t given to you)
Quote: Don’t bite the hook!

Name: Kristen Killgore
Site/Region: Saint Cuthbert’s Mission – Region 4
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Learn the beautiful skill of selective apathy. A great emotional survival skill, and you can really be 100% when it counts.
Quote: Everything is everything.

Name: Ally Kenney
Site/Region: East Canje Region 6
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Katahar (jackfruit) – it is weird looking
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Climb a mango tree to pick fresh mangoes
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Embrace every experience, good and bad…it’s all a learning process
Quote: Live the dream every day

Name: Missy Taylor
Site/Region: New Amsterdam, Region 6
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Shit in a hole
Quote: I’m not funny. I’m actually really mean, people just think I’m kidding.

Name: Sarah Shearer
Site/Region: Bohemia, Region 6
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Labba, tapir, iguana
Quote: Every day is a new day

Name: Chad Elsey
Site/Region: Akawini, Region 2
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Ant infused oatmeal with cockroach coffee
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Got lost in the jungle…twice
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Embrace the chaos
Quote: Sun hot, breeze blow, rain fall

Name: Jarrett Liebhart
Site/Region: Suddie, Region 2
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Cow face soup
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Kill and cook an iguana
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Remember, it’s only Peace Corps
Quote: Be yourself

Name: Damian Owens
Site/Region: Region 5
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Tamarind
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Spear fishing, swimming in black water, finding love.
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Embrace the new you.
Quote: To change a nation, start with the youth.

Name: Sarah B.
Site/Region: Rosignol, Region 5
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Sheep chitlins or fish egg curry
Quote: Who vex lose

Name: Leah (white gyal) McManus
Site/Region: Tarlogie Region 6
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Mannish water
Quote: The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks – Tennessee Williams

Name: Kyera Shea
Site/Region: Blankenburg, Region 3
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Bring lots of books and/or a Kindle, b/c reading = life
Quote: Veni, lego, condo (bibliotheca). I came, I read, I built (a library).

Name: Lori Karker
Site/Region: New Amsterdam, Region 6
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Tek no stress.
Quote: Peace out.

Name: Sarah Shirley
Site/Region: New Amsterdam, Region 6
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Cow face
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Be on the radio
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Manage your expectations!
Quote: Too blessed to be stressed!

Name: Damaris Bravo
Site/Region: New Amsterdam, Region 6
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? I never thought I would be in a Guyanese commercial.
Quote: Just go with it.

Name: Emily Garcia
Site/Region: Malali, Region 10
What’s something you did that you never thought you’d do? Swam in piranha-infested waters…on the regs
Quote: Rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong
Shoo-bob sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom
Chang chang changitty chang sha-bop
Dip da-dip da-dip doo-wop da doo-be doo
Boogedy boogedy boogedy boogedy
Shoo-be doo-wop she-bop
Sha na-na-na-na-na-na-na yippity dip de boom
Wop ba-ba lu-mop a wop bam boom!

Name: Eneka Lamb
Site/Region: Santa Rosa Village, Region 1
What’s the strangest thing you ate? Labba brain (after cracking the skull of a cooked labba head)
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Waterproof yourself and your belongings. You’ve got to laugh.
Quote: Of all the people I couldn’t choose…I am glad it’s you.

Name: Haley Hegarty
Site/Region: Bush Lot Village, Region 5
What advice do you have for future volunteers? Bring a Kindle
Quote: Travel far enough, you meet yourself. – Cloud Atlas

Name: Rachel Ivancie
Site/Region: Georgetown, Region 4
What advice do you have for future volunteers? You first, everything else later. Do not compare your service, site or projects to others!
Quote: Humanity for humanity, be careful of your opinions otherwise – Kristen Killgore

Welcome GUY 30!

Peace Corps Guyana is excited to have a brand new batch of sparkly health and education volunteers.


Name: Vianssa Armendariz
Site: Supernaam, Region 2
Sector: Health
Hometown: El Paso, TX
University and Degree: University of Texas at El Paso, Biology
Food craving from home: Beef chimichangas, Greek salad, tofu pad sew ew


Name: Rachael Bentley
Site: Wakapoa
Sector: Health
Hometown: Riverside, CA
University and Degree: George Washington University, BS Geology, BA Archaeology;
Tulane University, MPHTM
Food craving from home: Tacos and pho <


Name: Michaela Bonnett
Site: St. Cuthbert’s, Region 4
Sector: Health
Hometown: Bellevue, NE
University and Degree: University of Nebraska Lincoln, Biology
Food craving from home: Chocolate chip cookies


Name: Reed Boulter
Site: Wakenaam Island
Sector: Health
Hometown: Orange, CA
University and Degree: Westmont College, Philosophy
Food craving from home: Burritos and tacos


Name: John Ryan Brown
Site: Viva la Force
Sector: Health
Hometown: Charleston, WV
University and Degree: WVU, Biology
Food craving from home: Good pizza


Name: Isaac Coppock
Site: Better Hope, Region 2
Sector: Education
Hometown: Chico, CA
University and Degree: Humboldt State University, Child Development
Food craving from home: Mexican food


Name: Samantha Daisy
Site: Mabaruma, Region 1
Sector: Health
Hometown: Peterborough, NH
University and Degree: Stony Brook University, B.S.S.W.
Food craving from home: Reese’s


Name: Oumou Dao
Site: Auchlyne, Region 6
Sector: Education
Hometown: Towson, MD
University and Degree: Stevenson University, B.S. Human Services
Food craving from home: Nando’s chicken


Name: Christle deVera
Site: Wakenaam Island, Region 3
Sector: Education
Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
University and Degree: Old Dominion University, B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies, M.S. Education
Food craving from home: Chocolate chip cookies


Name: Caroline Deurwarder
Site: Ithaca Region 5
Sector: Health
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
University and Degree: University of Washington, Public Health, American Ethnic Studies and Minor in Diversity
Food Craving from home: Shrimp Phad Thai


Name: Aicha Diouf
Site: Patentia, Region 3
Sector: Education
Hometown: New York City
University and Degree: Wheaton College, M.A. International Relations
Food craving from home: Thai food


Name: Tish Fox
Site:Betsy Ground
Sector: Education
Hometown: Battle Ground, WA
University and Degree: Washington State University, Psychology
Food craving from home: Tea. Fancy tea.


Name: Lee Hendrix
Site:Leguan Island, Region 3
Sector: Health
Hometown: Statesboro, GA
University and Degree: Georgia Tech, Biology
Food craving from home: Country (salty) ham


Name: Javaris Herndon
Site: Bartica
Sector: Health
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
University and Degree: University of South Florida, Public Health, International Relations
Food craving from home: Latin foooooooood


Name: Jami L. Herring
Site: Cumberland, Region 6
Sector: Health
Hometown: East Liverpool, OH
University and Degree: Ball State University, M.A. Anthropology
Food craving from home:1. Rockne’s Bacon Cheddar Fries (without bacon, extra cheese, and honey mustard dipping sauce), 2. Dark chocolate, 3. Beef, 4. Red Wine


Name: Andy Keen
Site: No. 8, Region 5
Sector: Education
Hometown: Coatesville, PA
University and Degree: Elon University, Public Administration, Political Science
Food craving from home: Brussel sprouts. I’m weird.


Name: Brittany Kernagis
Site: Mainstay, Region 2
Sector: Education
Hometown: Mount Holly, NJ
University and Degree: Whittier College, BA; University of Southern California, MA
Food craving from home: Mexican and salads


Name: Julia Kyriakides
Site: Fyrish, Region 6
Sector: Health
Hometown: Gary, IN
University and Degree: University of Wisconsin-Stout, Family and Consumer Science
Food craving from home: Mexican and pizza


Name: Taylor Laskowski
Site: Vreed-en-hoop, Region 3
Sector: Health
Hometown: Suamico, WI
University and Degree: Kansas State University, BS Biology; Tulane University, MPHTM, International Studies
Food craving from home: Pizza and wine


Name: Arielle Levinson
Site: Rose Hall Estate, Region 6
Sector: Education
Hometown: Marietta, GA
University and Degree: Brandeis University, Anthropology
Food craving from home:Pizza


Name: Emily Lipson
Site: Manwarin, Region 1
Sector: Education
Hometown: Chicago, IL
University and Degree: University of Minnesota, B.S. Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies
Food craving from home: Blueberry scone


Name: Derek Methu
Site: Friends Primary School, Region 6
Sector: Education
Hometown: Placentia, CA
University and Degree: American University, M.A. Public Communication
Food craving from home: Tacos and Burritos


Name: Cristina Miller
Site: Rosignol Health Center
Sector: Health
Hometown: Albuquerque, NM
University and Degree: Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Urban Environmental Geography; Univ. of New Mexico, Nutrition, and Dietetics
Food craving from home: Whole wheat pasta, baked cod, collard greens, tomatoes, anchovies with pecorino grated on top


Name: Olayinka Opesanmi
Site: Brittania, Region 5
Sector: Health
Hometown: Waldorf, MD
University and Degree: University of Maryland Baltimore County, Biological Sciences
Food craving from home: French toast, French toast crunch cereal, ackee and saltfish, suya, fried chicken with mumbo sauce, burgers


Name: Stephanie Parente
Site: Suddie Hospital, Region 2
Sector: Health
Hometown: Orange, CT
University and Degree: University of VT, BS Social Work; Columbia University, MS Social Work
Food craving from home: PIZZA!!!


Name: Martine Phadael
Site: Mahaicony, Region 5
Sector: Health
Hometown: Coral Springs, FL
University and Degree: Bachelors in International Relations
Food craving from home: Anything fast food


Name: Carly Ratekin
Site: Dartmouth, Region 2
Sector: Health
Hometown: Evergreen, CO
University and Degree: University of Colorado, Integrative Physiology
Food craving from home: Asparagus


Name: Chelsea Roderick
Site: Laluni, Region 4
Sector: Education
Hometown: San Ramon, CA
University and Degree: Sac State
Food craving from home: Mexican food


Name: Brianna Rossi
Site: St. Lawrence, Region 3
Sector: Education
Hometown: Daytona Beach, FL
University and Degree: BYU, Elementary Education
Food craving from home: Sour Patch Kids


Name: Dorie Schwartz
Site: Cornelia Ida, Region 3
Sector: Education
Hometown: New York, NY
University and Degree: Tufts University, MA Teaching
Food craving from home: Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream


Name: Kelsi Seid
Site: Eversham, Region 6
Sector: Education
Hometown: Oakland, CA
University and Degree: University of California at Santa Cruz, Politics
Food craving from home: Grass-fed, organic, dry-aged beef. Specifically, I want a ribeye


Name: Greg Skutches
Site: Moraikobai
Sector: Education
Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
University and Degree: West Chester University, English Writing
Food Craving from home: Spicy Tuna Roll


Name: Hunter Stafford
Site: Belladrum, Region 5
Sector: Health
Hometown: Enterprise, AL
University and Degree: University of Alabama, BS Biology; Tulane University, Masters Public Health
Food craving from home: A large, juicy hamburger


Name: Karin Strom
Site: Agatash, Region 7
Sector: Education
Hometown: Spokane, WA / Japan (last 5 years)
University and Degree: Whitworth University, Speech Communication and Peace Studies
Food craving from home: Espresso


Name: Christopher Sutton
Site: Aishalton
Sector: Health
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
University and Degree: Eastern MI University, BS Social Work


Name: Jocelyn Valencia
Site: Zeelugt, Region 3
Sector: Health
University and Degree: South University, BSN
Food craving from home: Bacon cheeseburger, Mexican food


Name: John Weber
Site: Bartica – St. Anthony’s Primary School
Sector: Education
Hometown: Reading, PA / Austin, TX
University and Degree: Albright College, Economics, Management, Finance
Food craving from home: Sushi


Name: Melanie Zimmerman
Site: New Amsterdam, Region 6
Sector: Health
Hometown: Carrollton, TX
University and Degree: University of Arkansas, Nutrition
Food craving from home: I really miss burgers



Liza works tirelessly to improve the lives of the residents at Cheshire Home, not only improving their physical lives but also working with the community to foster a better relationship and understanding of persons with disabilities. She also improves the lives of her fellow PCVs.  “Liza is always there for me when I have a tough day or need some inspiration. She is a source of comfort, wisdom, and reassurance to her fellow volunteers,” says PCV Aly Kenney.


Liza took a break from her busy schedule running a community library, tutoring and hosting community activities to answer some questions for The Gaff:

First thoughts that come to mind when you describe life in Guyana: It’s the craziest, loudest, hottest, most colorful roller coaster ride ever.

Favorite Guyanese saying?! Me nah able

Favorite Guyanese food? Solara

What type of food do you crave the most from home? Non-dairy everything.

Why did you join Peace Corps? Lifelong dream

What do you miss most about life back home? Being out at night and all types of drinks: boba tea, smoothies, lattes, craft beers.

What odd familiar items have you found in Guyana? Twizzlers and Silk soy milk



“Blender is life.”

Mango Pine Basil Smoothie
1 cup pine
1/2 cup fresh mango
1/2 cup banana (frozen if possible)
1 cup water or coconut water
Juice from 1 lime
Handful of basil
optional: a couple ice cubes
Blend and enjoy!!

Watermelon Detox Smoothie
1 cup watermelon
1/2 cup pineapple (frozen if possible)
1/2 cup cucumber
2 ice cubes
1/2 cup water
Juice from 1-2 limes
1/2 inch of ginger, chopped
Blend and say AHHHHH


Hit the spot Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake
1 cup of milk (or Peanut Crunch Milk!  )
1 cup banana (frozen if possible)
2 scoops chocolate Nesquick powder
2 scoops peanut butter
Blend and devour.

Mocha Morning Milkshake
1 cup of cold coffee
2-3 ice cubes
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of frozen banana
1-2 scoops of cocoa powder
Blend, rise and shine.

Mango Coconut Ice Cream!
1 cup fresh mango
1/4 cup coconut milk
Optional: add some spoons of honey to sweeten.


Blend, freeze, and treat yo’self with any additional toppings…in about an hour.

P.S. Always feel free to send GAFF your favorite recipes! We want to try and have recipes for all to make!

Travel tips for:
Trinidad & CARNIVAL

Friendly reminder! All travel outside of Guyana should be approved by your Safety and Security Manager (SSM) before any official booking! Peace Corps needs to know where you plan to stay and the length of your trip in case of an emergency.
Disclaimer: All information provided comes from Volunteer’s experiences and has not been formally approved by the SSM. Use discretion and common sense when making your travel plans. Of course, HAVE FUN!

To get into the Trini spirit, here are some top tunes from Carnival 2017!
Get ready to literally hear the same songs on repeat (but 2018 version).


Starting the day after Christmas, it’s officially CARNIVAL season in Trinidad!

SOCA songs on repeat, steel pan competitions, incredible costume designs, and parade prep are all just a few exciting aspects that lead up to the most wonderful time of the year in Trinidad:


This event is certainly bucket list worthy, so get ready for some fresh information on how to plan an awesome Trinidad/Carnival excursion.

Tip 1: Get inside info. Use Couchsurfing as a platform to gain local insight into Carnival. Without planning on staying with anyone, locals are still happy to share what they know about best fete deals (see below) and band tickets. It’s a great platform to gather a variety of information. Take advantage so you’re not stuck in the tourist crowd, but as always, proceed with caution!

Tip 2: Accommodation! As soon as you decide you’re going, start looking. Check out hotels and AirBnb. I would say lock down your sleep situation around 6-9 months in advance. Check your options frequently and make decisions after comparing. Don’t be hasty, but don’t be lazy! Volunteers happily stayed at the hotel at the airport and others found great Airbnb options.

Tip 3: Getting around. Trinidad and Port of Spain have a great bus system. Don’t be afraid to use it! You can buy a bus ticket at the newspaper kiosk in the center of the airport and just communicate with the bus drivers on where you need to go, they will gladly help you! All the buses have different color stripes to indicate their routes. Easy peasy. P.s. Cabs add up.


Tip 4: Carnival Must Do’s
“Fetes”  – are huge parties leading up to the actual days of Carnival. Most of them happen night and day the weeks/days before. You pay a flat rate for entrance, food, and drinks. BUY TICKETS in advance. Some are held by famous artists or have big name SOCA performers, and can get a little pricey. Definitely try to go to at least one and to get the best deals by BOOKING EARLY! These are a real chance to mingle and enjoy the local energy that is building as Carnival gets closer!

“J’ouvert”  – happens as Sunday turns to Monday and Carnival officially begins! (see above pic)
“Bands” (groups of people with music trucks) dance through the streets of POS starting at 2am until morning. And you’ll be covered in mud, paint or powder at the end! (Bring clothes and shoes you don’t care about!!) To enjoy this experience you have two options! One being, pay to join and “play with a band”. Highly recommended! Google “jouvert bands for carnival”. DO THIS EARLY and book ASAP. Included is a pre-party with food and drinks, free shirt, drink cup, sun glasses…etc. You’ll follow a specific route and dance the morning away! The second, cheaper option, is to “jump with a band.” This basically means that you sort of just follow a band as they go along (maybe because you have friends in it) and you just enjoy the craziness and mud without all the included stuff mentioned before. 

“Monday/Tuesday Mas”  – The official days of Carnival where you’ll see all the amazing costumes. Again, 2 options: you pay to be in a band or you watch. I recommend watching for your first time! This way you can see all the different costumes and themes the various bands show. And maybe get an idea for the band to join for next time!  Monday is a more relaxed, less extravagant parade, but still super fun if you have the energy after j’ouvert. “Monday wear” pretty much consists of bathing suits and shorts and is just the whine up. Tuesday is the day when all the biggest costumes are displayed! A great place to view it all is the Queens Park Savannah. It’s the number one spot where the bands and costumes get judged, so the spectacle will be at it’s best! There is a huge stage where the bands filter through to show off what they’ve been working on for a full year


Tip 5: Trinidad To Do
Maracas bay –  “you never went to Trinidad if you didn’t go to Maracas”. DAY TRIP! (see photo below) Maracas is the most famous beach in Trinidad and it doubles as a gorgeous drive through the hills and valleys of Trinidad. (Most of us made time on Sunday to go.) Plan to eat SHARK at Richard’s! Fried shark in bake with as many toppings as you can stuff into the container is sure to satisfy any hunger.

Fort George – The best destination for one of the most spectacular views of Port of Spain and the sea.

St. James – A great nightlife spot with local interaction and food!

Malls on malls – Trinidad is also famous for having some of the biggest malls in the Caribbean. So, if you’re in dire need of items you can find in Guyana, be sure to do a little research and make time for shopping (and satisfying food cravings)!


Tip 6 – Togabo. If you can, make time for Tobago!! This island is the slower version of Trinidad, and offers a ton of more nature-loving/water sport activities for adventurous travelers. 

Tip 7 – Go another time. Of course, there is so much more this gorgeous place has to offer. So if you’re not interested in Carnival, you should still go to experience another flavor of the Caribbean. The New York Times recently featured Trinidad in the 36-hours series, so check that article out for renowned restaurants and activity ideas.

There you have it! The essentials for your trip to Trinidad for Carnival. Depending on how many vacation days you can spare, go a few days earlier to experience lead up events, like steel pan competitions and SOCA concerts. Be sure to look these up!

I hope this helps you plan an amazing carnival and/or trip to Trinidad! Get a group, find your accommodations early, and brace yourself for around the clock music, dancing, costumes and Trini flavor!

All photo credit goes to the talented PCV Gabrielle Swindle


While I was reading a book, a student of mine from grade 1 started pointing at the text in the book and saying “Ay Nah!” over and over.

Now everyone in our school yells “Ay Nah!” at each other, just like how he did.
-Steven Corina Kwatamang Region 9

From Kwatamang…to New York

Peace Corps Goal 3: To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
Shared by PCV Steven (GUY28)

Thinking of Goal Three projects to do in your community? My favorite Goal Three project was my Web Chat between my Guyanese school in Kwatamang, Region 9 and an American school from my hometown!

There are plenty of ways to have schools communicate with each other, but video chatting felt like the best way to have the students speak with one another. Both schools prepared multiple questions for the students to ask. The teachers in the American school had moved multiple classes into one room to give their students the opportunity to meet children their age from another continent. On the day of, the bus coming from my school broke down but the students were so excited for the opportunity that they decided to walk across the savannah for an hour to get to the building that provided the Wi-Fi for the video chat.

The building had limited Wi-Fi because it gets Wi-Fi from a satellite, so I had to pay for each Gigabyte used for the video chat. The money came from fundraisers that the teachers and I ran at the school during the weeks prior.

One of the questions that really excited the students and really left an impact was, “How many students are in your school?” This question was asked by a student from the United States. I looked at my students and after we did some quick addition, we said there were 68 students in our school. The students on the other side were amazed! So, I decided to ask how many students were in their school. The teachers looked around and finally said “At least over 600.” My students and I started to laugh in shock. When we settled down, I finally said: “that’s more than our whole village’s population!”

To this day, we still talk about the video chat we had with the school in the town that I grew up in, and my students can’t wait to talk to their new friends in the United States.


I went back to the United States to visit my hometown as I was approaching the one year mark of my service in Kwatamang, Region 9. In preparation of the visit, I spoke with various schools and churches to deliver presentations about my service. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to present about my service in 4 different institutions. When I presented at my church I made a presentation focused on my experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer. When I presented to a school and a Religious Education center I focused my presentations on the culture of the people and children in my community. Lastly, at another church, I presented a story from my experiences in Guyana as part of the religious service. While I did these projects with Goal Three in mind, I also received many good ideas to promote Goal Two for when I get back.

For anyone who is visiting home, giving a presentation on your experiences so far is the perfect way to share the service and work you’re doing!

Need another Goal 3 idea?


The Friends & RPCVs of Guyana (FROG) crew is requesting any volunteers to contribute to their new blog series! These entries can be about your experience as a volunteer, Guyana life, peace corps projects, etc. Share away! The goal is to have current volunteer perspectives be represented.

You may be thinking …. What is FROG!?

“Friends & RPCVs of Guyana is a non-profit, service-based organization dedicated to supporting education, health, social, economic, cultural and environmental programs in and about Guyana through a network of RPCVs, Guyanese nationals, Guyanese-Americans, and all those interested in the Guyanese Community.”

If you decide to write something, please contact first!

Writer’s block!? Tek no stress! Try dez!

10 Signs You Should Join Peace Corps

10 Signs You’re in Love with Guyana

8 Things That You Never Expected from the Peace Corps

10 Things You Most Didn’t Know About Guyana

10 Things You Should Know About Peace Corps

10 Unconventional Things About Guyana That You Can’t Learn from Books

10 Ways to Achieve Your Goals in the Peace Corps

14 Common Misconceptions About Peace Corps

15 Reasons Why People Like Guyana

15 Tricks You Should Know When Traveling to Guyana

5 Reasons Why the Peace Corps is Important

5 Secrets About Guyana That Nobody Will Tell You

5 Things About Guyana You Have to Experience It Yourself

5 Very Common Misconceptions About the Peace Corps

7 Awesome Things You Can Learn from the Peace Corps

7 Hidden Travel Destinations in Guyana for Travelers on a Budget

7 Latest Developments in Guyana

7 Things the Peace Corps Taught Me Not to Take for Granted

Doing Peace Corps the Right Way

Here’s Why Guyana is So Awesome

How Guyana is Making the World a Better Place

How Peace Corps Made Me a Better Person

Learn from these Mistakes Before You Join Peace Corps

Lessons I Learned from the Peace Corps

Why My Favorite Place on Earth is Guyana

One Checklist That You Should Keep in Mind Before Visiting Guyana

So You Think You Want to Join the Peace Corps?



10 Tips for Hosting a Mini Camp in Your Community

1. Select a Theme and Target Audience – Ex, Self-esteem, Girls age 11-14

2. Create a Timeline – Give yourself plenty time to plan and seek donations

3. Identify Country Partners – They can help in raising funds, serving as a guest speaker, or volunteering their time.

4. Choose a Camp Site – Venues can often times be donated if you can prove your event is bettering the community.

5. Make a Budget and Start Fundraising

  5 Fundraising Ideas

  1. Ask for donations from community members. Explain to them what your camp is and why it is important to you, as well as your community. You can always ask for donations of food, rather than cash.

  2. Have a bake sale at a local church event, community gathering, or ask your local HM about selling on school grounds.

  3. Place a donation jar at a snackette or shop with a picture and short description of the event you want to plan.

  4. FROG Fundraising: “Friends and RPCVs of Guyana” can make tax-deductible contributions through FROG’s website

  5. Write a grant. Contact a GAD member if you need help.


6. Choose and Train Guyanese Counselors – Ideally, you will partner with a group that can help provide counselors. If you don’t manage to find that perfect partner, you will have to choose some from your community. It’s a good idea to have a training session for counselors before camp. GAD has applications and counselor training materials you can tailor to fit your needs.


7. Select Campers – Set up an application process or sign up sheet. You may have to convince parents and follow up regularly to insure attendance.


8. Plan Activities and Sessions – Welcoming the campers should set the tone… fun, yet organized! Set expectations for behavior early. GAD has many engaging session plans on all sorts of topics available for your use.

9. Relax and enjoy yourself as much as possible during camp. No matter how much you plan, unexpected issues will arise. Laugh it off and learn from the experience.


10. Post-Camp Evaluations – Very important! There are many ways to evaluate Camp. Write down quotes throughout the week from the girls that are especially meaningful to get some nice qualitative thoughts on Camp. GAD has a more formal survey you can use which will help provide data for your VRF and/or grant report.

Always feel free to reach out to your friendly GAD Team for assistance

– Amaar, Chantelle, Zach and Sarah B.

 ITC/IRC Taskforce 

The ITC/IRC Taskforce is currently embarking on a project to map the libraries that PCVs have started or worked along with in order to analyze the impact as well as the function of these spaces. There is also work to create a resource pool that volunteers will be able to tap into to learn on the sustainable efforts.

If you have information on libraries in your area or questions, please feel free to contact us on

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