Friday, February 13, 2015

PDM Workshop

Counterparts and PCVs at PDM
PDM: Project Design and Management

Before this week, I had heard many positive things about Peace Corp's PDM workshop. Even those volunteers who found Pre-Service Training and the following trainings exhaustive have had positive things to say about PDM.

This workshop occurs about six months into a Lesotho PCV's service. It is a workshop for both the volunteer and his or her counterpart-the host country partner with whom the volunteer works the closest.

Last Sunday, Ausi Mareisi and I traveled from our village to a hotel a few hours away. There, we met up with 13 of the other volunteers I swore in with six months ago. (Three other volunteers are out on medical leave and one has terminated their service early)

PCVs and PC Staff sending love to some fellow PCVs
The whole week has been filled with long days of really useful workshops for both of us. The first two days focused on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho. Since I arrived, Lesotho has moved from claiming the third highest HIV rate (per capita) in the world to the second. If the rate continues as predicted, it is a likely possibility that Lesotho will soon claim the highest HIV rate in the world. We discussed what this means for the population, ways to work towards encouraging testing and safer sexual practices, and looked at the resources available in the country and from Peace Corps to help with these things.

Other sessions included looking at Peace Corps Safety and Security procedures again--a good thing to review with the Lesotho election only two weeks away--and how we volunteers need to report our work to Peace Corps.

Ausi Mareisi getting her certificate for PDM.
The final two days were the real details of Project Design and Management. We discussed the Peace Corps grants available to volunteers and their communities. There are two of these grants available here in Lesotho: VAST grants and PCPP grants. VAST grants are for projects that directly relate to HIV/AIDS and capacity building. PCPP or Peace Corps Partnership Program grants allow people in America to fund volunteer and community projects in Peace Corps countries through donate.peacecorps.gov.

From there, we were led through the Peace Corps process for working with our community to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate larger projects. Volunteer and counterpart teams worked to create a project for our community from the planning stages to a sample (albeit unresearched) budget, timelines, and evaluation questions. The fourteen teams in our group had a variety of different project ideas, many of which I am sure will become the projects chosen after an official needs assessment has been completed in the community.

Ausi Sadia, Ausi Mareisi, and me having fun in the pool.
After hours, having the PCVs and their counterparts in the hotel for the week allowed for a lot of additional bonding time. We have been experiencing a heat wave in Lesotho this week, with most of the days being miserably hot. Thankfully, the hotel has a pool, so after we finished each day I spent my time in the pool.

Swimming is not a part of the Basotho culture. Only a few of the counterparts knew how to float or move in the water prior to this week. Somehow, my cooling off in the pool turned into casual swimming lessons in which I found myself reawakening the parts of my brain that have rested since I stopped maintaining my Water Safety Instructor credential. I worked with half a dozen of the counterparts throughout the week, helping them gain confidence in the water. While they will not be competing in the Olympics anytime soon, seeing them go from trepidation to joy in the pool is something I will always cherish and remember. The hottest day, a number of other PCVs joined us and we played Marco-Polo with great passion for nearly an hour!

So, it has been an incredibly busy but wonderful week at PDM. Ausi Mareisi and I are excited to return to site tomorrow to being working with our organization and community on the things we have learned and discussed this week.
Playing Marco Polo
Joyful
Teaching Ausi Sadia to swim

1 comment:

Susan Pederson said...

That is just great! You are a natural educator - but then maybe genetics had something to do with it as I believe your Mom and Grandmother are/were both natural educators as well. So of course you would teach swimming lessons!! I am learning so much from your posts - thank you for sharing them!

You should choose as your life's work whatever feels the most like play.
-Harvey Oxenhorn