Where the Peace Corps and Rotary Meet

–submitted by Valerie Johnson; photo by Mike Engelberger

David GoozeAs Rotarians listened to David Gooze [pictured here (right) with Club President Tim Stadelman] at the November 26 meeting entertain them with stories of his Peace Corps experience in Togo– everything from sacrificing goats to navigating 40 languages or being startlingly awoken by calls to prayer from the mosque at 5:45AM – his real story quietly unfolded.

The real story was one of vision and collaboration as Peace Corps officials, with David’s involvement, and Rotary International leaders, with David’s parent’s involvement, finalized a four-year work in progress started by Peace Corps alumni in Denver.

To promote global development and volunteerism, Rotary and Peace Corps signed a letter of collaboration, agreeing to participate in pilot programs in the Philippines, Thailand and Togo.  Under the May 2014 agreement, Rotary clubs and Peace Corps volunteers are encouraged to share resources and knowledge to boost the impact of development projects. Opportunities for collaboration include supporting community projects, training, networking and community education.

IMG_3527One of David’s major programs in Togo was to distribute more than 5,000 soccer balls to disadvantaged youth. He organized ‘More Than Just a Game’ sessions, which use soccer to teach children about malaria prevention. Before he brought these non-deflatable balls, children were using rolled up bags for soccer balls.  He also helped teach modern honey-production methods.

One of his greatest rewards was having a local leader, a woman Rotarian, tell him, “I want to learn how to be more worldly, work with my own people.  I can’t depend on Americans and others to do projects for my community in the future.”

While David said the word stewardship doesn’t translate well into their local language, that is exactly what she was referring to and what she was learning.  Gooze is a 2006 Oregon High School graduate and a 2010 Graduate of the University of Oregon.

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