Update from Casey on First Response Action

I am elated to inform you that Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams responded to the letter I wrote to him in last month!
I wrote a piece about it on the First Response Action blog.  You can read that piece here:  http://firstresponseaction.blogspot.com/2010/03/confirmation-received-from-director.html  Director Williams was supportive of what we’re trying to do and he has instructed two top offices to follow-up with me.  I am hopeful!
I am also excited to share that several new members have been added to the First Response Action Coaltion – Karen Moldovan, Katie Campbell and Meg Long.  They are all also RPCVs who are passionate about making change to the way Peace Corps addresses sexual assault and rape in-country and at home.
About the new Coalition members:  Karen works for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and has been instrumental in signing on dozens of state and national organizations.  (You can view all of our endorsements on the blog at: http://firstresponseaction.blogspot.com.)  Katie is located in DC and has been busy coreographing our press materials and media outreach campaign so we can take this up another level.  Meg created a sexual assault/rape manual for her community in Kenya, where she served as a PCV, and lends her expertise on appropriate response to issues of sexual assault and rape.  I am elated that these three amazing women are now part of the Coalition!
We are looking for RPCVs or PCVs who are interested to share their stories of sexual assault or rape (anonymously or by name) to add to our campaign to help Peace Corps in creating survivor-centered response.  Please feel free to forward this!  People who want to share their stories can email firstresponseaction@gmail.com with (1) name (2) story (3) RPCV or PCV (4) country or general region, i.e. “Central/South America” (5) year(s) of service.  Believe me, I personally know how difficult it can be to share a story like this, but to prove to Peace Corps that this issue goes beyond my isolated story, we need to band together!

You can also find us on facebook, just search First Response Action in the group section.
Thank you again for expressing your support in the First Response Action mission!  Please spread the word!  Every time you forward this email you get more karma points and who doesn’t want more good karma : )


Suport volunteers who are sexually assaulted, raped or otherwise physically assaulted during service!

I received another email that I thought was more than worthy of being posted here.   Casey Frazee has created a blog and facebook site dedicated to support PCV’s that have been physically assaulted during service.  Casey detailed everything in her email, so I’ve posted it below.  I urge you to support Casey’s site.

Casey’s Email:

Hello everyone!

 I am proud to say that I have a blog up and running now that is dedicated to working with Peace Corps on creating a policy to suport volunteers who are sexually assaulted, raped or otherwise physically assaulted during service!  Please check it out at: http://firstresponseaction.blogspot.com.  I have a list on the right of several ways you can help.

 Right now, I have two main priorities:

  1. Gather more stories from volunteers who were assaulted or raped during service.  To make Peace Corps listen, we need to show them that this is a problem bigger than one or two people.  This has affected many and we need to address it!  People can reply to my email or to firstresponseaction@gmail.com.  ALL information shared will be confidential and people can choose to let me share their first/last names or to remain anonymous.  People can send me their story along with their region (to assist with privacy, we won’t share specific countries).
  2. Spreading the word!  I know all of you, but there are many other RPCVs and current PCVs that I do not know – as well as teheir family and friends who are concerned about their safety.  Would you please forward this email to anyone you know who would be interested?  It will be greatly appreciated!

I have also created a facebook group for this.  Please join!  The key to making change is to band together and make our voices grow!  Back in the U.S. now, Obama is not as popular as when I left, but I still believe that we can all make change!  I hope you can help me!


Casey Frazee

Peace Corps Reform Plan

I received the following via email and thought it worthy of posting here.  The reform plan that was attached to this email is 146 pages long which is too long to post here.  However, I really enojoyed reading it and I think you would too if you are in any way interested in the PC…esp. if you are interested in becoming  a PCV.  If you want to read it, try emailing Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff to ask for a copy, or you can email me and I will forward you a copy of the one they sent to me.   Enjoy!



To:      Friends of the Peace Corps

From:  Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff (RPCVs)

Re:      Peace Corps Reform Plan

Date:   July 2009

With President Obama’s nomination of Aaron Williams for Peace Corps Director—which we strongly support—and the probable Congressional approval of increased appropriations, the Peace Corps is poised to embark on a journey of renewal and reform. We have developed a detailed and comprehensive plan (attached) providing a roadmap for Peace Corps reform with twenty priority initiatives.

Overall, our recommendation is that the agency must listen to, respect, and empower the Volunteers, without whom the Peace Corps accomplishes nothing. We loved being Volunteers, and we still believe in the ideals that drew us to serve in the 1960s and called us to serve again when we retired. We strongly believe that the Peace Corps could be playing a more crucial role in fostering grassroots development and serving the needs of both the U.S. and the host countries in the 21st Century.

We have been working over the past four years, beginning during our second tenure as Volunteers (2005-07), to document the need for change and to research the policy options. Our effort gained momentum in July 2007 when Senator Dodd invited us to testify in favor of reform on behalf of the Volunteers then serving. Since our testimony we have communicated with many Volunteers about current conditions in the field and their affidavits are presented in this plan. We have been circulating drafts of this plan within the Peace Corps community since last December and have incorporated innumerable edits and ideas that have been submitted to us. We have also secured voluminous documents from the Peace Corps via Freedom of Information Act requests, including the results of the 2008 Peace Corps survey of the Volunteers and data on the number of “qualified applicants.”

Our conclusion is that the first priority at the Peace Corps must be to implement fundamental reforms rather than to increase the number of Volunteers. Quality before quantity. Indeed, considering the pervasive mismanagement in the agency that we have documented, we fear that rapid expansion would jeopardize the performance and reputation of the Peace Corps. We support additional appropriations for the Peace Corps—above the level recommended by President Obama—with most of the increase to be utilized for reforms. For details on our recommended allocations, see Appendix D. The plan makes clear that we support Senator Dodd’s Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act (S. 1382). Amendments to strengthen it are included in Appendix E.

We know we have no monopoly on Peace Corps reform proposals. We hope that the dissemination of this plan will prompt a debate about how best to transform the Peace Corps for the 21st century. As part of that process, we invite you to forward the plan to PCVs, RPCVs, Peace Corps staff, Members of Congress, and the media. We invite RPCV Friends’ groups to post it on their websites and forward it to their members.

We welcome comments on this plan and recommendations for reform, which we will compile and submit to the Congress and to the Peace Corps. Requests for anonymity will be honored.

Finally, we are looking to recruit an RPCV entrepreneur to establish a “RateMyPeaceCorps” website – a proposal discussed at length in our plan.

We take full responsibility for the contents of the report, for any errors or omissions, and for any excess of zeal or enthusiasm in our quest for reform.

Respectfully submitted,

Chuck Ludlam

Retired Counsel to Congressional committees/White House and lobbyist

RPCV: Nepal, 68-70, and Senegal, 05-07

                 Founder, Friends of Nepal

                 Advisor to Obama/Biden Peace Corps Transition Team

                 Member, National Peace Corps Association Board of Directors

Paula Hirschoff

Writer, editor, and teacher

RPCV: Kenya, 68-70, and Senegal, 05-07

                 Former Board Member, Friends of Kenya

Chuck Ludlam   chuck.ludlam@gmail.com
Paula Hirschoff   phirschoff@gmail.com
4020 Reno Road, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-364-6021 (home)
202-841-3006 (cell: Chuck)
202-841-2987 (cell: Paula)

No longer a PCV

I made the agonizing decision to come back the US and cut more PC service short…meaning I didn’t finish my two years of service.  I will not list here the reasons for this decision.  The reasons are very personal. 

I wish all those that frequent my blog searching for info regarding the PC, the best of luck if you decide to become a volunteer.  My time serving as a PCV was a wonderful experience.  However, I caution you to make sure serving is something you truly want to do.  I also suggest that you read as much as possible about the PC and the country you will serve.  It will also be helpful for you to start your language study before you leave. 

All that being said, I’ve decided to leave this blog up, because I continue to have visitors here daily researching info about the PC.  I also receive emails and comments from potential volunteers, thanking me for the info contained in this blog.  I’m glad that so many people have found this blog useful, so I’m going to leave it up and running.  However, I will not longer be making updates.

Good luck in whatever decision you decide to make…to serve or not to serve!!

Peace Out,



Sorry I haven’t made any posts recently, but I’ve been a little busy.  I was in Pretoria for over a week taking care of doctor’s appointments and PC meetings.  Since my arrival back in Acornhoek, I’ve been busy at the schools trying to give workshops before the school year is over. 

Hope all is well…will try  to post more updates soon.

Back online…wahoo!

Wahoo…my computer parts arrived and I’ve been back online for a couple of weeks now, so I thought I should update my blog…I’m pretty behind with it.  I’m going to start adding posts gradually and backdating them.  I hope all of you are doing well.

Electrical problems…

How exciting….I have internet again! WAHOO!!  I got the  new adapter and battery from my parents today…I’m glad that I was correct in guessing that it was an adapter issue….good thing I’m such a computer geek huh? LOL!

I had my parents to send me a surge protector along with the new adapter and battery, so that it wouldn’t happen again. However, as soon I plugged the surge protector into the socket in my bedroom, it popped and sparked and blew up!! It threw a breaker in the house, and my host mom came running to my room and asked me what I was doing! I told them what happened. Along with the story of what happened last night…my psp adapter\charger was plugged into this same socket last night, but the psp wasn’t plugged into the adapter….the adapter was just plugged into the socket, and I was laying on my bed playing a game. I smelled smoke and looked over and saw a spark coming from the psp adapter. I immediately unplugged it, but it was too late…the psp charger\adapter is now dead! UGGGG!!

So anyway, I explained to my host Dad that the socket had now killed my laptop adapter, psp adapter, and today the new surge protector.  He took the plug apart, but couldn’t see anything wrong with it. The plug works w\all the stuff I’ve bought here and has never blew up anything I’ve bought here…like the fan and my cell phone chargers. However, whenever I’ve plugged anything American into it, it eventually blows it up.  So, he wasn’t sure what the problem is and I don’t know either. Wish my Dad was here…he could solve the problem! I plugged my laptop into the plug in my kitchen for about 20 min to charge it up and then unplugged it. I’m afraid that plug might do the same thing, because I don’t know if it’s a issue with just the plug in my bedroom or an issue with the wiring in both my rooms. UGGG.  I think I’m going to just start taking my laptop to school with me every day and charge it.  I’m so glad I didn’t have my psp hooked up to the adapter when it blew up!!

Enough about my electrical problems…