Wednesday, April 22, 2015

PCV Profile: Tracy

Meet Superwoman...I mean Tracy. She made
this cape out of an umbrella she found
abandoned on the side of the road.
Tracy was the very first person I met when I landed in Philadelphia for Peace Corps staging last June. As I hopped on the shuttle to the hotel, I saw two women. One was clearly a business woman and not part of our group. The other turned out to be Tracy.

We formed an instant connection not only because we were bound for Lesotho together and part of the Greater Than Average demographic but because she has once sailed aboard the Mary Day as a guest when my great friend Sara was chief mate. This was clearly a woman after adventures and ready to do whatever it takes to make such adventures happen!


Tracy is from the Midwest. She is a mother to three boys, all of whom are currently serving in the US military. She is a gifted and energetic educator, having spent most of her career as a school librarian. She is a baker extraordinaire. It is impossible to have a Peace Corps workshop with her without enjoying some sort of delicious treat. I can only imagine the things she would be whipping up with more than a two burner gas stove!

Tracy, me, and two other PCVs atop Thaba Bosiu during PST.
Sadly, Tracy and I live fairly far apart. She is south of the capital city, in the district of Mafateng. Although she predominantly works with the Healthy Boithatelo Youth Organization, she has found and created a million connections within her district and between outside entities and her district. She is a resource and role model for other PCVs in this area. Whether it is getting bikes to teach women and girls, getting books to start a small children's library out of her house, or trying to get two inflatable kayaks donated to teach people the joys of boating safely; she is always looking for ways to bring new and valuable experiences to her community.

While most of the volunteers in our group are only just beginning to work on major projects, Tracy's project is in full swing. She is working with the women in her organization to create a sewing business. Ultimately, they hope to turn a building into their sewing headquarters/children's library. They were able to get donations to buy a handful of hand-crank sewing machines as they do not have electricity.

Tracy guided the women towards making unique items. There are many skilled tailors in Lesotho who create beautiful clothing out of Seshoeshoe, leftover food bags, and other materials. Rather then competing with these experienced dressmakers, she encouraged the women to consider making smaller, easier items. Now they are pumping out sewn bags, bracelets, and aprons in a variety of colorful fabrics. Not only are we PCVs gobbling them up, but the Basotho that see their handiwork are always impressed.

With more than 16 months left of service, I can only imagine the level of sustainability this project with achieve and the additional things Tracy will accomplish!


Although the women are less excited
to make the aprons out of Maizemeal
bags, they have quickly become a
favorite of PCVs!

2 comments:

Stephanie said...

Tracy is not only a fabulous PCV, she is loving and warm friend always ready to share a new adventure.

Tracy Rayburn said...

Wow! Thanks Beth. What a very nice story. I truly flattered and humble, which I often don't do well.