Story posted January 26, 2011
In August 2007 I joined the Peace Corps and served for two and a half years in a small rural village in the mountains of Nicaragua. I facilitated projects from soil conservation and community micro banks to making chicken coops and introducing an improved model of cooking stove. In addition I taught weaving to kids, youth, women, and anyone else who stopped by my home with a curious mind. My goals were to help families lessen their dependence on agriculture and for the women to gain financial independence, achieving not just food security but livelihood security. Now back in North Carolina, I am continuing to work with the group of weavers that I taught and helped organize, by promoting and selling their products. All 14 women are producing small rugs and market bags, and I’m selling them at regional retail craft outlets with profits providing for previously unaffordable health care, school fees, and basic tools. The rugs and bags have also been sold in the US at open house events and at fair-trade craft stores in the Durham/Chapel Hill area. All proceeds are returned to the group, with a percentage saved toward construction of an independent workspace. This experience has sparked my interest in international development as a career and this fall I am entering a Masters of Public Policy program at Duke University.