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Past NorCalPCA Grant Funded Projects


Nigeria: $5890 to Bishop McGettrick Girls Secondary School in the Afikpo North Local Government Area for equipment and lighting for their computer lab and library, including funding for solar electrity due to erratic power supply in the area. Bishop McGettrick Girls Secondary School serves 176 girls of various religious backgrounds in a secure boarding school setting in an area where educational opportunities for girls are few, public education has collapsed, poverty is on the rise, and security is difficult.  

Ukraine: $4865 to Golden Key Kindergarten in Kalush, Western Ukraine for the purchase of beds and mattresses for 60 internally displaced people (IDPs) currently residing in the school’s nursery-Kindergarten facility. When the war began in Ukraine, Golden Key was compelled to redirect its program and mission to support IDPs and convert two of its school buildings into living facilities for families who have lost their homes and/or who cannot return home due to ongoing hostilities. As winter approaches, beds are their most urgently needed item for these 60 families who are currently sleeping on the floor of the building.

Jamaica: $3500 to The Jamaican Conservation and Development Trust for backpacking and safety equipment for the Blue Mountains Jamaica trail project in Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. By promoting eco-tourism, the goal of the overall project is to foster development of poor, isolated Maroon communities adjacent to the park. “Maroons” are the descendants of escaped slaves and anti-colonial fighters from the 1600s and 1700s, the culture of whom is a large part of the rationale behind the park’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status (in addition to its natural cloud and rain forests).

Honduras: $2,500 to Berkshire Amistad to fund maritime shipping expenses for medical equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers from the U.S. to Honduras.

Mozambique: $5000 to Associação Moyo Utsitsi (ASMU) to complete an unfinished community center (including doors, windows, electrical wiring, and finishing of walls and floors) and restart a microloan program. ASMU’s mission is to serve, advocate, and promote the well-being of orphans and vulnerable children and their families impacted by poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They operate a 10-hectare plot of land in Vanduzi that is used for agriculture, horticulture, fish farms, sharecropping programs, and community gatherings for over 900 members and 1500 individuals living in the vicinity. When completed, the community center will have three small offices and a large community space for education, meetings,  and health programs. This grant will also provide seed money to restart a microloan program that originally began in 2017 to teach basic finance and income-making skills to 30 women.

Philippines: $2850 to Glory Reborn in Cebu to support Taking Care of Mom: Maternal Mental Health for Marginalized Women in the Philippines, a project that seeks to prevent, screen, and treat maternal mental health disorders in patients at Glory Reborn’s maternity clinic. Glory Reborn is an NGO that serves marginalized mothers and their babies in Cebu with a vision to build community through care, education, and relationships with each individual, client, and employee. This grant will cover expenses for the project’s social media program and other materials, including six mental health informational videos.


$3,000 to Health Access Connect in Kampala, Uganda. NorCal funds were used to
purchase roofing sheets and supplies for outreach clinics.

$2,500 to Mali Kalanso in Koulikoro Region, Mali. NorCal funds were used to
purchase a solar-powered digital library for middle school students.

$2,000 to Associação Moyo Utsitsi in Manica Province, Mozambique. NorCal funds
were used to build a tower for two water tanks with capacity of 1500 liters.

$1,950 to Fundamental Initiative for Sustainable Transformation based in Jinja,
Uganda. that serves young mothers and vulnerable women. NorCal funds were used
to purchase 15 sewing machines and materials.

South America and Caribbean

$2,500 to Proyecto Itzaes in Yucatán, Mexico, where families and children have been
heavily impacted by Covid. NorCal funds were used for school supplies, tutoring and
development support.

$2,000 to Hands Across the Sea operating in the Eastern Caribbean. St. Vincent was
badly damaged by volcanic eruptions and Hurricane Elsa last year. NorCal Funds
were used for transport and distribution of children’s books.

Middle East

$1,650 to Together for the Family in Zahle, Beqaa Valley, Lebanon, which serves a
diverse clientele, including Syrian refugees. NorCal funds were used for greenhouse
land preparation, construction, and seeds and plants.


The NorCal Board recently approved the following projects for 2020.  


1.  $3,100 to Kilunga Village Foundation (KVF) on Rusinga Island, Kenya.  NorCal funds will be used to purchase a gasoline-powered generator to support their health complex.  Fuel and regular maintenance will be provided by the clinic staff and community.  The project was proposed by NorCal member Adam Crider, RPCV Kenya, 2010-2012.


2.  $2,000 to Rafiki Group of Butembo, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).  In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Rafiki Group plans to make 9000 masks for 4500 taxi moto drivers, using this 2-month project as an opportunity to train 15 girls in sewing techniques and Covid-19 health education.  Water tanks and buckets for 30 hand-washing stations will be placed in central parking areas for the moto drivers.  NorCal Funds will be used to purchase cloth and thread, buckets and water tanks, and other items.  The project was proposed by NorCal member Jessica Vapnek, RPCV, DR Congo.


3.  $1,900 to Khulo Public School in Adjara Region, Republic of Georgia.  Four Peace Corps Volunteers have lived in succession in Khulo, a center for 2000 people, mainly Muslim minority.  Now, with community support, Khulo Public School is adding a room for a training and professional development center.  NorCal Funds will be used to purchase a laptop, a projector and peripheral equipment, and room furniture.  The project was proposed by NorCal Member Mahdis Nicokar, RPCV Republic of Georgia, who was evacuated in 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.


4.  $1510 to the Anjiro Initiative (AI) in the town of Anjiro, a farming community of 15,000 people in Eastern Madagascar.  AI is a non-profit organization started by RPCVs.  

NorCal Funds will be used to purchase materials for a new classroom at Ecole Primaire.  In addition, a computer printer will be purchased for the school.  Local labor and construction materials are considered 23% of the project.  The project was proposed by NorCal Member Clifford Duong, RPCV Madagascar.  


5.  $1260 to the Kaliza and Chankhungu Youth Clubs of Dowa District, Malawi.  These two clubs, serving 75 young people, provide many youth activities for ages 10-29.  The youth clubs plan to train 50 young people in vocational skills such as sewing, carpentry and construction, and business management.  NorCal Funds will be used to purchase tools and materials for the classes, such as sewing machines, toolboxes with tools, fabric, and wood.  The project was proposed by NorCal member Jane Choi, RPCV Malawi.


Our sincere thanks to the more than 45 donors in fiscal year 2019-2020.  We also received funds from 2020 International Calendar sales.



The NorCalPCA Board of Directors approved grant funds for 5 projects described below, totaling $7,630. 

$2,175 to Mali Kalanso, a volunteer-driven non-profit begun in 2010 to support community education in Nienebale, Koulikoro Region, Mali.  Starting with a preschool and 3 primary classrooms, the collaboration between village, government, and NGO partners has grown the school to 400+ students from preschool through 9th grade.  Besides standard curriculum, their program includes health education, teacher training, adult literacy, and tutoring.  Of special note is the support of village elders for girls’ education which is very unusual in MaliNorCal funds will be used to purchase 15 locally-made desks of metal and wood, each seating 2-3 students.  The project was proposed by NorCal member Katie Christ, RPCV Mali.

$2,000 to Peace Corps Partnership (PCP), Peace Corps Headquarters, Washington, DC.  PCP is the clearing house for projects proposed by current Peace Corps Volunteers.  PCP project acceptance includes staff support in the country of service, and community contribution in the form of financial donations, labor or materials.  Once projects have met requirements, they are posted on the PCP website for funding by interested individuals and groups.  The Grants Committee has spoken with the PCP staff and will work with them to find a project(s) that meets our criteria.  NorCal funds will be used for a community development project(s) proposed by a current Peace Corps Volunteer(s) from California.

$1,955 to Macadamia Nurseries Project in Sankhuwasabha District of Nepal.  Founded in 2001, Society Development Center (SODEC) works with national and international donors to support sustainable organic agricultural in eastern Nepal.  The proposed project will create two SODEC macadamia nut nurseries with 6,000 seedlings each.  The trees, once transferred and mature, will provide shade to coffee plants and more income to farmers.  Existing farmers’ groups will provide compost, labor, and local materials.  NorCal funds will be used to purchase macadamia seeds and supplies, such as greenhouse hardware, irrigation pipes, and poly bags.  The project was proposed by NorCal Member Deana Zabaldo, RPCV Nepal.

$1,000 to Hesperian Health Guides of Berkeley, California.  Last year, Hesperian Health Guides, using a NorCal Grant of $2,000, distributed Hesperian publications to current Peace Corps Volunteers from Northern California.  Hesperian discovered that communicating with current PCVs was most beneficial using Reddit and other social media and the efforts resulted in distribution of 75 books.  NorCal funds will be used as a matching grant to continue providing Hesperian materials to the same audience.

$500 to South Africa Kids Pruning Company (KPC) located in Ingwavuma District of Magugu in KwaZula-Natal, South Africa.  KPC was established in 2014 as a recreation program for youth, ages 9-21.  About 100 youth currently participate.  Programs include crafts, sports, music, life skills, drama, and video production.  The music and video projects are designed to inspire and educate the community.  Director Ilton (Yito) Beleque is a long-time collaborator with Peace Corps Volunteers.  NorCal funds will be used to purchase 4 acoustic guitars for the music program.  The project was proposed by NorCal member Aladrianne Young, RPCV South Africa (2017-2019).


Congratulations to the 2018 NorCalPCA Grant Recipients!
14 proposals were reviewed by the 2018 Grants Committee and a recommendation was sent to the NorCalPCA Board of Directors. The following 7 projects were recently approved by the Board for $11,250. All projects have a connection with our members and/or current NorCalPCA Peace Corps Volunteers.

1. $2,000 to Health Access Connect in Kampala, Uganda. NorCalPCA’s funds will purchase two motorcycle trailers for their program, Ambulances for All, designed to link patients by motorcycle taxis to existing health care resources within a 5 kilometer area. NorCalPCA member Kathleen Campbell sponsored this application.

2. $2,000 to Davila Children’s Home (DCH) in Bomet, Kenya. The Home provides care, support and protection for 30 orphans and vulnerable children. NorCalPCA funds will be used to purchase a maize grinding machine for their use and for the local community. (DCH received $1,200 to purchase 300 chickens in 2015. That project is thriving.) NorCalPCA member Andrea Crider sponsored this project.

3. $2,000 to Common River, a community program in Aleta Wondo, Sedama Region, Ethiopia, begun in 2007. NorCalPCA funds will provide materials for the new 5th grade classroom, including a wall board, and supplies, books, uniforms and shoes for 30 students. NorCalPCA member Nancy Beam sponsored this application.

4. $2,000 to Hesperian Health Guides based in Berkeley, California. The NorCalPCA Grant through Hesperian’s Gratis Program will provide free publications to Northern California Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) serving overseas. Through cooperation with the local Peace Corps recruiting office and send-off celebrations, Northern California PCVs will learn about this offer and request the Health Guides for their local communities.

5. $1,250 to Comixlenl Coffee Cooperative in La Union, Lempira, Honduras. Coffee rust disease, attributed as a problem of global warming, is impacting the coffee production. The 78-member Cooperative needs to control or eradicate the disease on about 156 acres of coffee. NorCalPCA funds will be used to purchase the equipment and fungicide necessary. NorCalPCA member Maria Robinson sponsored this application.

6. $1,000 to Alternatives to Violence Project Jordan to fund and expand outreach of their conflict resolution efforts. The organization plans mini workshops designed to introduce their concepts to 10 Jordanian organizations in one year. NorCalPCA’s funds will be used for the translation and printing of materials and manuals. NorCalPCA member Lydia McCloskey sponsored this project. This project represents NorCalPCA’s first grant to the Middle East.

7. $1,000 to Full Basket Belize (FBB) founded by Belize RPCVs and friends in 2005. FBB is an all-volunteer organization and 100% of donations go to projects in Belize. NorCalPCA Grants will work with FBB to co-sponsor a project that meets NorCalPCA’s criteria. This application was proposed by NorCalPCA member Brandon Kitagawa.


We are proud to announce two projects that have received funding from the NorCalPCA Grants Program!

1. $2,000 to Save Rivers to build a pontoon and jetty for the Long Ekang community in Sarawak, Borneo.
Save Rivers is an indigenous-led grassroots organization and a partner of the Borneo Project, located in Berkeley, CA. NorCalPCA members Liz Varnhagen and Bruce Moen are active in the Borneo Project. The NorCalPCA Grant will be used to purchase project materials.
Long Ekang, located on the Baram River, has a population of more than 500 people, many aged 50+. The river is the commercial and transportation lifeline for the community.

The pontoon and the jetty, built over 30 years ago, was damaged by flooding in May 2017. A construction plan and project supervisors have been identified. $3,500 was already donated for the project. The total cost estimate is $8,540. Other funds needed will be raised by the community itself.

2. $1,000 for the composting latrines project in Alto Playon, Darien Region, Panama.
The 280 inhabitants of Alto Playon live on an indigenous reserve and follow a subsistence life of farming, fishing and hunting. This project was proposed by NorCalPCA member Moiz Kapadia, RPCV Panama, who served there in 2010-2012. We will hold NorCalPCA funds for this grant up to July 31, 2018 for Moiz and his team to raise an additional $1,000. If the outside support is not received, the funds will be returned to Grants.
NorCalPCA Grants previously awarded $2,000 in 2015 for the Alto Playon project. After several obstacles were overcome, the funds were released in Spring 2017 for actual construction. With the recent completion of more latrines, the Alto Playon community is very enthusiastic to continue building them. The community members provide all labor needed and 40% of the materials cost. The Grants Committee likes this project and wants to encourage Moiz Kapadia and his colleagues to look beyond NorCalPCA Grants for the additional funds they require. By contributing our name and part of the financial support, we hope to encourage other funders to provide the amount necessary for the Alto Playon project to continue.


Thanks to your generous donations and calendar purchases, the NorCalPCA Grants Program was able to fund five community development projects this year for a total of $7,350! 

1.  $2,000 for the African Library Project (ALP), a volunteer based organization in Berkeley, CA, founded in 2005. ALP recruits book drive organizers in the United States and Canada and matches them with rural schools in sub-Saharan Africa. Peace Corps Volunteers in the field are an integral part of their program.  School villages agree to provide space, furniture, and library staff. 

Our NorCalPCA Grant of $2,000 will be used to purchase 30 sets of HIV/AIDS readers for use in school libraries in southwest Kenya.

2.  $2,000 to the Dokotoro Project, a volunteer organization founded by Mali RPCVs and based in Richmond, CA.  NorCalPCA Member Matt Heberger is the Project Leader. In 2012, a small group of Mali RPCVs envisioned a monumental task: to translate and publish the book Where There Is No Doctor (Hesperian Health Guides) into Bambara, a language spoken by 10 million people in Mali and surrounding countries. Due to political unrest, Peace Corps/Mali suspended its program in 2012, but the RPCVs continued to work, calling on former Peace Corps staff and host-country counterparts to work with them.  They hosted fundraisers, worked electronically with translators in Mali, and field-tested the results with health care professionals.  In the process, they realized that the materials necessitated an updated West African French translation, too. The result is newly completed, appropriate health text and illustrations in both Bambara and French, ready to be printed and used.

Our NorCalPCA Grant of $2,000 will provide 130 copies of Where There Is No Doctor to communities and local health centers in Mali.

3.  $2,000 to Build a School in Burma (BSB), co-founded in 2010 by RPCV Andrew Lederer of Los Altos, CA. To date, over 20 schools have been built in underserved communities of Burma through the efforts of BSB, partnering with NGOs and local communities who want education for their young people. Phara Gyi School in Arakan State, near the India border, was completed in 2013 for 100 students, but 180 children showed up to learn. The original water and sanitation facilities were inadequate for the numbers and a major storm in 2014 washed the latrines away.

Our NorCalPCA Grant of $2,000 will be used to build two new school latrines and provide potable water.  The latrines will be constructed from reinforced concrete to survive the local weather conditions.

4.  $850 to Young Community Health Workers in Tsarasambo, Madagascar, a club of young people facilitated by Health Adviser and current PCV Jenna Smith from Pacifica, CA. Five representatives of the club attended 2016 Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), a Peace Corps-led program for girls from throughout Madagascar. They returned with commitment to recruit their friends and create a program where they can promote the well-being of their community through activities that empower and educate them to make a difference. In the process the club members are learning valuable leadership skills.

Our NorCalPCA Grant of $850 will be used for gardening tools and materials, art and mural supplies, and readers in their Malagasy language.

5.  $500 to the Children’s Center in Baluti Village, Blantyre, Malawi. The project was proposed by Elaine Lo, RPCV Malawi 2007-2009, from Hayward, CA. The Chimwemwe Children’s Center was founded in 2009 in response to increased children living on the streets. The organization focuses on youth between 10-25 years, especially those effected by HIV/AIDS, drugs, and mental health problems. The Center facilitates counseling and educational support. A new Children’s Center is currently being built to continue and expand the resources available.

Our NorCalPCA Grant of $500 will be used for windows and other building infrastructure.


The NorCal Grants Program is proud of the following projects chosen to receive grants representing over $10,800.

1.  $2,000 to a Peace Corps Partnership Project in Ñaupe, Peru, proposed by current PCV Jason Emmons, from Yuba City, California. Ñaupe is a small town of about 700 people, situated near the northern border of Lambayeque province.  This project is aimed to combat deforestation and provide green areas/waste managements.  The project includes starting a tree nursery, digging micro land-fills and building concrete planter boxes, and planting nursery trees.  In one year, it is estimated that 20,000 kilos of trash will be eliminated from the landfill and the entire town will enjoy the green areas and increased shade.  The NorCal grant will be used for construction materials and supplies.

2.  $2,000 to the Borneo Project, based in Berkeley, CA, to help provide solar energy for 2 rural community centers in the Baram River Basin of Sarawak, Malaysia.  This proposal from a Northern California non-governmental organization was written by the Executive Director with support of several RPCVs on the Board of Directors.  These rural communities currently rely on expensive and polluting diesel generators.  The NorCal grant will help purchase one solar panel for each location.

3.  $2,000 to Community Agents for Integral Health (ACSI), a collective of extension workers in Yorito, Honduras.  This project was recommended by NorCal member Janet Espinosa, who served there for her Peace Corps service, 2009-2010.  ACSI identified 4 locations in the neighboring mountain communities where they will build and demonstrate latrines, water storage basins, roofed houses, cement floors and family gardens.  The finished facilities are designed to inspire community involvement and replication in the future.  The communities will provide materials and labor worth 30% of the total value of the project.  NorCal’s grant will purchase construction materials.

4.  $2,000 for the composting latrines project in Alto Playon, Darien Region, Panama. This project was proposed by NorCal member Moiz Kapadia, RPCV Panama, who served there in 2010-2012.  During his Peace Corps service, Moiz worked with the locals to build composting latrines.  The local Health Committee became very active in promoting this effort, and latrines were constructed with the help of the next PCV.  NorCal’s grant will purchase materials to construct more latrines, with local recipients providing 100% of the labor and 40% of the materials. 

5. $1,656 to Youth 4 Change (Y4C), a non-profit, collaborative public project in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.  This project was proposed by Benjamin Taylor, RPCV Micronesia, 2010-2012 , and resident of McKinleyville, CA.  Y4C consists of 60 youth peer educators from around the island.  The educators present group-created songs, lectures, and crowd-participation scenarios aimed at Micronesian youth in elementary through high school and their parents.  Last year, Y4C also made presentations to Peace Corps-affiliated summer camps.  NorCal’s Grant will fund the purchase of audiovisual and recording equipment to support the group’s activities and allow for transmission on local radio and to outer islands.

6.  $1,200 to the Davila Children’s Home Chicken Project in Bomet County, the lower Rift Valley, Kenya.  The project was recommended by RPCV Adriana Alminiana, who served in Kenya 2013-2014 before her service was cut short due to country evacuation.  This project creates an income generating and nutrition-supplementing poultry project.  The orphanage/local community will fund all labor costs, the egg storage facility, a water tank, and other additional supplies totaling about 17% of total project costs. A portion of the eggs will be used to feed the children and caretakers at the orphanage, with the majority of eggs being sold to local stores and restaurants for profit.  NorCal’s grant will purchase the chickens and provide vaccinations.


In 2014 the Grants Committee recommended funding for four projects that were approved by the NorCal Board for a total amount of $6,300.    

1. $850 to the Promoting Productive Livelihoods Project (PPLP) in El Salvador. PPLP is a youth program supported by two high schools,  Instituto National de Perquin and Education Complex of San Fernando, both  located in the Northern Morazan, a poor rural mountain region. This project includes a business basics and incubator course that will run for 20 weeks, attended by 50 high school students. Participants will be responsible for creating team marketing plans for a good or service and presenting them to a panel of judges from the community. NorCal Grants funds will be used for class supplies and student materials. The project was proposed by PCV Hilary Jacobsen of Marin County who is concurrently a Master’s International student at Monterey Institute of International Studies.    

2. $2,000 to Mali Kalanso, a non-profit organization that supports education in Nienebale, Koulikoro Region, Mali. Mali Kalanso was co-founded by Mali RPCVs in 2010. The program has built a preschool, three primary school classrooms, and most recently, started a middle school with their community partners. This year, the village leaders declared that girls would complete their education before being promised for marriage, “an immense cultural shift in a remote traditional community” according to Mali Kalanso. The first class of 7th graders started in the Fall of 2014. NorCal Grants funds will provide student desks and other needed furniture for this classroom. NorCal member Katie Christ (RPCV Mali), a co-founder of Mali Kalanso, proposed this project.    

3. $1,800 will go to the Philippine Federation for Environmental Concern (PFEC) for their honey and beeswax gathering and processing project in the Philippines. PFEC supports the Dumagat Remontado indigenous people who live in the Tayabasan Sub-watershed area in Metro Manila. The honey and beeswax project aims to expand economic capacity in a sensitive way. 20 people will participate in an initial training program. NorCal Grants funds will be used for equipment and presentation materials to expand the program.   The project was proposed by NorCal member Larry Maurin (RPCV Zambia) who served 8 months as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer with PFEC in 2013-2014.    

4. $1650 will go to the Reading Sierra Leone Book Distribution Project of Schools for Salone. Started by RPCVs, Schools for Salone (SfS) is a non-profit organization committed to helping Sierra Leoneans support education in their country.  As part of their ongoing efforts, they have identified 31 different books that are locally written and illustrated by Sierra Leoneans and Liberians. The audience is first to sixth graders. SfS plans to distribute the books to schools where there are established relationships. Transportation and library responsibilities in Sierra Leone will be covered by local representatives.  NorCal Grants funds will pay for 825 books ($2/each). The project was recommended by NorCal member, Bob Heavner, RPCV Sierra Leone.


The 2013 NorCal Grants Program received 13 project proposals for consideration.  Three of those projects along with one held over from 2012 were granted funding.  The total awarded in 2013 was $5,000.

1.  We provided $960 for the Special Olympics Program in Panang, Philippines.  The program purchased 10 bocce ball sets so able-bodied and disabled could mingle and play.  The Panang program sponsored a bocce team in local Special Olympics competitions.  The project was proposed by RPCV Philippines Debra Pritchard, a former NorCal member who now lives in Panang.

2.  We sent $1,000 for the Arborloo Project of Cemaco, Tierra Collectiva of the Darien Province of Panama.  Cemaco is a small indigenous Wounaan community of about 300 people.  The Cemaco community contributed 60% of the total project value through labor and transportation.  This project was a Peace Corps Partnership Project (PCPP) proposed by Nathan Arnold from Sausalito, CA, who was posted in Panama until July 2014.  

The Arborloo is a model of latrine similar to the basic pit latrine, except that it’s built out of very light materials which can be easily transported once the shallow pit is filled.  The filled pit is then topped with soil and a fruit tree is planted which will use the human excrement as fertilizer.  This cycle can be repeated for as long as the housing and platform hold up and this model is more sustainable than the standard pit latrine.  It also has the advantage of providing trees and fruit for the next generation in an area where deforestation is a huge issue.  

3.  We arranged for $1,000 to be used in Akhadesh, Azilal Province, Morocco, for Sanitation Project Part II.  The project was proposed by RPCV Morocco Jennifer Lawrence of Berkeley, CA, on behalf of the Akhadesh Association for Human Development and Matthew and Cori MacFarland, who were PCVs in Azilal.  

Project Part II aimed to continue the installation of toilets, with the involvement of Jennifer and the PCVs posted in the area. The funds were used to purchase toilets, pipes, cement and bricks.  49% of the total value of the project was provided by the people of Akhadesh in the form of transportation and labor.  The overall goal of this project was to improve health conditions in the village.

4.  We contributed $2,040 towards a challenge grant for the Mali Onion Storage construction project in Beleco, Cercle of Dioila, Koulikoro Region, Mali.  The project supporters raised $2,040 and the NorCal Grants Program matched the result.

The farmers in the Baniko Jaba Ton, the local onion cooperative, come from 15 small villages around Beleco, about 200 kilometers from the capital of Bamako. Onions are farmed seasonally, so the market becomes flooded with onions during the harvest and the prices go down.   The onion co-op used NorCal funds to buy construction materials and build a storage building where their onion crops could be stored up to 6 months.

The project was first proposed to NorCal Grants in 2012 when there was political unrest and a coup in Mali.  With more stability in the country, the project could move ahead in 2014.  This project was sponsored by RPCV Mali Jessica Luo, formerly of Northern California.


In 2012, the NorCal Grants Funds received $2,312 from 21 individual contributors. This amount included $400 from the generosity of friends and family of June Tolbert, RPCV Guatemala, who recently died. These donations were added to the monies received through the sale of calendars, raffles, and other fund raisers. The Grants Committee recommended and the NorCal Board of Directors approved $3,000 for two projects.

1. $2,000 to purchase books for the Maguu Library in Ruvuma, Tanzania (the amount requested). The project will be handled by TETEA (Tanzanian Empowerment Through Education Association with website based in Gwynn Oak, Maryland. TETEA was begun by RPCVs. The Maguu library was established by TETEA in 2010 and currently averages over 450 visits per month. NorCal funds will be used to purchase agriculture periodicals and school textbooks, with a goal of doubling the number of library visits. The project’s key personnel include a trained local librarian. The project was proposed by NorCal members Michael Neumann (RPCV Tanzania) and Catharine Hung.

2. $1,000 to the Youth Ventures Program in Morocco, part of the Greenside Development Foundation. (This amount is half of the funds requested.) Youth unemployment affects almost half of the working-age population in Morocco. Youth Ventures provides business counseling and the potential for micro financing to unemployed youth aged 15-29 in Sefrou Province. PCV William Ghirardelli of Oakland, CA, is responsible for the program in collaboration with Moroccan counterparts. NorCal funding will help 4-5 individuals with starter loans for their businesses. The proposal was written by Mr. Ghirardelli and sponsored by NorCal member Caity Connolly, RPCV Morocco.


The NorCal Grants Funds benefited from the generosity of friends and family of Darleen Beals, RPCV Sierra Leone and NorCal member who passed away May 8, 2011. NorCal Grants received over $4500 from people who wanted to honor Darleen in this way. These memorial donations were added to the monies received through contributions and the sale of calendars. The NorCal Board of Directors approved the following 6 projects for a total $6,515.

1. 2000 to the Amis des Bibliotheques de Villages Africains, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, which is represented in the U.S. by the Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL) in San Jose, CA. FAVL is committed to long-term management and support for small community libraries in rural Africa. NorCal funds will support publication of 285 educational children’s photo books about local village life. These books can help develop reading skills and inspire academic and literary interest among Burkinabe children.

FAVL’s support for local libraries in Burkina Faso is aided by a special collaboration with Santa Clara University students who visit there for a French-language academic program. Their experiences include library work and compilation of the books.

The project was proposed by RPCV Michael Neumann and Michael Kevane of Santa Clara University.

2. $1750 to the Borneo Project to fund the translation, illustration and printing of 500 books in the Penan, Malay and English languages for use in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. These water-resistant books will feature traditional Penan folk tales and provide literacy materials that reflect their culture and language. The books will be used in Borneo Project Preschools in 3 villages, plus other villages that offer adult literacy in afternoon classes. These books will be stored and managed by the schools teachers for long-term use. Local Sabah coordinators will handle publication and distribution to villages and preschools.

The Borneo Project is located in Berkeley, CA, and the project was sponsored by NorCal member Dick Morten of San Francisco.

3. 750 to the Compostela National High School in Compostela, Cebu, Philippines, to provide 75 headphones for their English language lab. Current PCV Claire Pelley from Chico, CA, has created a 4-step process that will lead to English Speech Proficiency for 520 students/year, training and support, and involvement of the school’s PTA to provide any needed replacement headphones. The lab teachers will train staff and students to use an open source speech lab program (Moodle) that facilitates English practice.

The proposal was sponsored by RPCVs Neal and Rene Bierbaum of Fremont, CA, who served there from 2006-2008.

4. $600 to the Environmental Working Group of Peace Corps Ukraine working with the Ukrainian National Environmental NGO “MAMA-86”. The Ukraine has contaminated drinking water in many locations that effects health and the environment. NorCal funds will be used to purchase water testing kits to test drinking water in all 24 Ukrainian oblasts (states) and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Prior to testing, Ukraine PCVs and their counterparts will receive training and materials about environmental lessons that they can provide their communities when the test results are known. It is hoped that these steps will inspire environmental change within communities when people learn firsthand what they can do about the problems.

The proposal was submitted by current Ukraine PCV Theodora Tran of San Jose, CA, and fellow PCV Megan Trout of Minnesota. The proposal was supported by NorCal member Lou Richards of Pacific Grove, CA.

Note: This project initially requested $1,000 for this project. NorCal Grants will hold and later offer the next $400 when the project has demonstrated initial results in educating and involving the communities.

5. $500 to the Institut Superieur de Technologies de Mamou, Guinea, West Africa, to purchase English language technical books for their school library. The IST is part of Guinea’s national university system and was founded in 2005. Its students study engineering fields leading to professional degrees. All students are required to study English, and the school is trying to develop its English technical library. The faculty includes a Peace Corps Response (formerly Crisis Corps) Volunteer. The Peace Corps Guinea office will deliver the books to the IST library in Mamou.

The project was sponsored by NorCal member Marguerite Carter of Oakland, CA. She recently returned from Guinea as a PC Response Volunteer.

6. $915 to The Morocco Wheelchair Project led by Henry Staron, a PCV in Taroudant, Morocco, whose stateside home is Martinez, CA. The goal of Henry’s Peace Corps Partnership Project is to distribute 550 wheelchairs to the disabled in rural Morocco. The project involves procuring, transporting and distributing the wheelchairs in a 9 month process. The total project cost is $10,804, of which Moroccans are providing 50% of the total value. NorCal’s contribution will be used to provide tools, tarps and tiedown materials, and written presentation materials.


The NorCal Grants Committee recommended, and the Board approved, funding for 2 new projects on September 11, 2010. The grants funds came from sales of calendars, interest from NorCal's savings account, and donations from generous members and friends. The NorCal Grants Committee received 11 proposals requesting over $17,000. Sadly, we were only able to fund two. A total of $2,050 will be distributed soon to the following two organizations. We look forward to providing updates to members as the projects reach fruition.

1. $1,050 to the Rain Catchment Project sponsored by the non-profit organization AMMID in Comitancillo, San Marcos, Guatemala. The proposal was written by AMMID, and submitted by NorCal Member Daniel Rabkin and the current PCV on site, Charlie Fulks. The project is to build 5 egg-shaped water deposits to store 8,000 liters of water each during the 6 month dry season. The water is used for family gardens and consumption. We liked this project because there is clear community involvement and technological transfer, and the project has continued a successful initiative with a proven model from one PCV (Daniel) to another PCV (Charlie) in the same community.

2. $1,000 to the non-profit organization, Schools for Salone, for their project "Salone Stories", submitted by NorCal member, Bob Heavner. The project involves printing books of popular cultural stories in English. The books provide a reading opportunity for children to enhance their national identify after 10 years of Civil War and arrested education. 300 books have already been printed and hand-carried by RPCVs and friends to Sierra Leone. The project goal is to provide and distribute as many books as possible in honor of Sierra Leone's 50th anniversary of independence in 2011. $1,000 will pay for printing 100 books. We liked this project because it represents RPCVs creatively responding to a national need in their Peace Corps country. The books are being introduced to teachers and students through education workshops sponsored by Schools for Salone.