Washington — A Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya is helping her community create a small dairy business that will partially fund the education of local deaf students.
Kelsey Full of Elizabeth, West Virginia, is working with local residents to purchase dairy cows for a small milk-producing business. Money generated through the business will help pay the tuition fees of deaf students in the area.
"Keeping children in school is an essential element of securing their future, and in a rural village this can be a challenge," said Full, a graduate of Glenville State College, in a February 21 Peace Corps press release.
Opportunities for education are particularly important for children with special needs, Full said, and she wants to help parents of deaf children keep their kids in school.
"Financial hardship is primarily responsible for preventing children from completing their education," she said. "In a community where job opportunities are limited, there is a great need to enhance the prospects of earning an income and living independently for deaf children."
Full hopes to raise funds for two dairy cows to be kept at the local school for the deaf, where she works as a volunteer. She intends for money that is generated from selling the cow's milk to go to families of deaf students to encourage them to keep their children in school.
"Money will be reallocated to the school fees fund," said Full, who has been working as a deaf education volunteer since October 2011. "This will alleviate the financial burden placed on parents sending their children to school in my community, ensuring that deaf children and those with learning impairments are living in a safe place and acquiring skills to enhance their job potential."
As part of the project, students will learn cattle rearing and milking skills, as well as financial, management and small business skills. A portion of the funds for the project will be raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which solicits donations to support Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide.
The school's head teacher proposed the idea for the project, and parents and community members formed a committee to raise funds. The community will provide the materials and labor for the project's implementation and maintenance.
In order to receive funding through the Partnership Program, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost and outline success indicators for the individual projects. This helps ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability.
More than 5,090 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Kenya since the program was established in 1964, and 123 volunteers are now serving in the country. Volunteers work in the areas of business, deaf education, math and science education, health, community economic development and water sanitation. Volunteers are trained and work in the languages Kalenjin, Kenyan Sign Language, Kikuyu, Kiswahili, Luo and Luyha.