The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 19, 2007

Peace Corps volunteer reflects on two years in Africa

Since October 2005, Lindsay Miesko has been calling the western African nation of Cameroon home.

The 25-year-old Johnstown woman has been serving as a volunteer with the Peace Corps, working on improving the lives of those in the Third World country and, more specifically, developing a home economics class for a girls school in the village of Guneku-Mbengwi.

Her service will come to an end in November or December, and according to Miesko it has been quite the journey.

“It’s been two years of the most extreme highs and lows of my life,” she said through e-mail from her village.

“I’ve met incredible people, Cam-eroonian and otherwise.”

Throughout her stint her role within the community has evolved.

“I primarily call myself a teacher,” she said.

Cameroonians have, for the most part, a communal way of living, Miesko said.

“Everyone is extended family, and that extended to me during my stay. My village has been incredible, and despite all the ups and downs, one thing that has been constant was their support of me,” she said.

Even though Miesko officially is classified as a health volunteer, she also teaches writing to secondary schoolers, literacy skills to adult women and basic French to preschoolers.

“Now I’m involved with establishing a girls school,” she said.

The idea was proposed to Miesko by the Guneku Women’s Association, a group of prominent women in the village.

“They came to me because they wanted direction towards funding, not because they wanted me to start and run the school,” she said.

To get the home economics class up and running, Miesko had to raise $1,508 for supplies and submit her plan to the Peace Corps.

Donations came in slowly at first, but eventually all the money needed was raised.

The project will teach sewing skills and provide health information on cleanliness in the home, sanitary cooking measures, avoiding HIV and money management.

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