Sunday, July 05, 2015

PCV Profile: Mackenzie

Mackenzie and me at Bushfire
One of the life skills classes
My dear friend Mackenzie and I sat together on our fifteen hour flight from America to Africa last year. Prior to Peace Corps, she worked in Lesotho. Peace Corps had always been a goal for her and she is certainly maximizing her experience now that she is here.

I really admire her openness, positive attitude, and creative soul. She is one of the most unique women I have encountered and every time we talk, I leave our conversations feeling both happy and inspired.

Mackenzie lives not far from the capital of Lesotho, Maseru. She works with Blue Cross, a drug abuse prevention and treatment organization working throughout the country. Her work as a Peace Corps Volunteer with such a well established organization is far different than my own loosely structured organization, job, and site. She is an incredibly busy woman!

Both women's soccer teams that Mackenzie coaches.
She teaches life skills classes with the people in the inpatient drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation program. Additionally, she is out in the community constantly. She teaches life skills at two primary schools and two high schools in the surrounding area every week. She meets with two HIV+ Support Groups through Red Cross; one for men and one for women. She has a women's walking group that meets weekly and an after school youth running club that runs three times weekly. She even uses her weekends for work, coaching two women's soccer teams. She has helped put together women's soccer tournaments through Blue Cross.

The "I Aspire to Be" Chalkboard
Somehow in the midst of all of those activities, she also has found time to do some really neat projects in the community. Her creative spirit has been put to great use and can be seen throughout her community. Outside a local shop is now an "I Aspire to Be..." chalkboard where people can declare and share their dreams. She and men from the community have been painting red ribbons throughout area villages to increase HIV awareness.

Although it is still in the early stages, she is working with her community to start a piggery as an income-generating activity for the community members.

The empowered women of Camp Glow
Additionally, Mackenzie co-planned and co-directed a GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) camp in her area last month. The camp was a 3-day camp with 60 young women from seven Maseru District schools attending. It was a huge success with exclusively local funding. The campers participated in sessions on leadership, self empowerment, HIV Prevention, gender equality, drug and alcohol abuse, and how to start a GLOW club at their own school. After it received local television attention, people starting contacting Blue Cross so she is already contemplating doing a second camp before we finish our service!
Life skills graduates at Blue Cross
Mackenzie and a counterpart working on the chalkboard

All photos provided by Mackenzie.

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