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Peace Corp Volunteers making a big difference

Peace Corp Volunteers  making a big difference

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After deciphering the Vincentian dialect and adjusting to the “Vincentian time” both Ann Crytser and Scott Sharland have attested that their time spent in St. Vincent so far has been excellent.{{more}}

The Peace Corps Volunteers have now adjusted to the Vincentian culture and have given of their time and skills to enhance their respective communities.

Crytser began her journey with the Peace Corps after her retirement. She had a career in education and marketing before turning to volunteer work as a way to “remain active”.

Speaking from her quaint kitchen at her Brighton home, Cryster, smiling from behind a coffee mug related the highlights of her tenure which started on August 30, 2008, some of which include her association with the JEMS tree planting programme and an HIV/AIDS education programme.

The tree planting programme involves the planting of trees in several communities to facilitate reforestation, while the HIV/AIDS programme seeks to educate youths on the causes, prevention and stigma attached to the disease, as well as to counsel others.

The most important aspect of the programme, she related, is seeing the impact each initiative has had on the young people of the community as it brings them together. Her effort also contributes in their development, she noted.

JEMS Progressive Community Organisation Director Andrew Simmons had only good things to say about Cryster, who according to him has been an integral part of the organisation, lending a hand wherever she can in every activity.

JEMS PCO was established in St Vincent and the Grenadines as an environmental and sustainable development organisation in 1978. The organization has identified solutions to conservation and development needs through festivals, sports, plays, and music.

Crytser, who also volunteers as a teacher at the St. Clair Dacon Secondary School, added that she hopes to address the literacy levels in schools.She noted that she believes this is one of the problems affecting youths locally.

For Scott Sharland who also arrived here on August 30, 2008, he is convinced that if persons lay aside their politics, helping others will come naturally. Sharland became a Peace Corps volunteer out of his desire to help others and making a difference in people’s lives.

Seated in an empty playroom at the Helping Hands Centre, one of his assigned locations, Sharland told SEARCHLIGHT that one of the main problems here relates to people’s political affiliations, which he believes hinders their ability to genuinely help others.

Sharland who was also assigned to the Liberty Lodge Training Centre has also contributed significantly to the Helping Hands Centre located at New Montrose.

Co-ordinator of the centre Annis John told SEARCHLIGHT that the centre would not have been advanced as it is today without Sharland’s contribution, as he has trained that staff in Information Technology.

John said that Sharland also was the main architect behind the centre’s newly formed website.

Sharland, in conjunction with the boys of the Liberty Lodge Training Centre has initiated several programmes there to help their overall development. He discussed that the main problem he has identified is the lack of father figures in the home. He is hoping that through the development of the young men, they will grow up to be responsible fathers.

His general impressions of St. Vincent are good ones, and he greatly appreciates the hospitality and friendliness of Vincentians, something that is lacking in his home in Massachusetts, he noted.

The US Peace Corps is a nonprofit charity organisation that deploys volunteers to over 139 host countries around the world to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.

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