Andrew Brower

Peace Corps - Honduras from August 1997 to December 1999.


Andrew was both a Peace Corps Volunteer and a graduate student in the Loret Miller Ruppe Peace Corps Masters International Program at Michigan Tech. Find out more about this program at http://peacecorps.mtu.edu/ .


November 21, 1997 - Near the end of Peace Corps Training

"... my first opinion is that training is getting a bit old. I CAN'T wait to get out to my site. I've learned a lot, met some cool cats, but I haven't been under this much control since, um, kindergarten--and I'm not even sure I remember kindergarten."

"No matter where you go, work on the language beforehand. I thought I would be alright in Spanish. Not true. However, I've been working rather hard, and it's amazing the friendships that can develop through several conversations between a local and a gringo speaking in short choppy sentences."

"We just got done with Field Based Training (FBT). FBT was 25 days, Spanish in the morning and technical stuff in the afternoon. It was out in Olancho, the biggest department (state) in Honduras. Olancho is in the east, is beautiful, has mountains and trees, but is also the "Wild, Wild East." The men ride horses, have cowboy hats, and carry guns. It's a bit strange, but wonderful."

The training site at Santa Lucia.

11 February 1998

"I now live in Guayape, Olancho, Honduras. I live with a family in a small room off of their main family room. It's quite noisy, there is no privacy (I was without a door for 2 1/2 weeks), and a hen has chosen the bag that I keep my socks and underwear in as its new favorite spot to lay its eggs. I don't mind as I eat them for breakfast the following morning. The living situation, however, is fabulous for my Spanish, which is actually improving even though I still don't understand why all these campesinos who never went to school after 12 years of age don't talk like my Spanish grammar book said they would."

"The woman I live with is a profesora in the primary school. She teaches 6th grade and has, no kidding, 63 students. Her husband is a frijole farmer and a fabulous futbol player; therefore I now eat beans three times a day and practice with the soccer team each afternoon.. They have 4 children (ages 12, 10, 7, and 10 months) who have officially declared that I am now hermano mayor of the house. As far as I can tell, this simply means they are now allowed to attack me any hour of the day."

"We've been collecting seeds from Cassia amarilla and some fruit trees to start viveros in the local communities and the schools. COHDEFOR has an officer directly associated with Parque El Armado whom I work with the most. I believe I will be giving him support in workshops he plans to conduct in the twelve aldeas around Guayape and the park. These will consist of environmental education, agroforestry practices, and the establishment of viveros."

"Hammocks are underrated in the States."

"Those less fortunate practice hillside farming, which, inevitably becomes migratory farming. ... This is, by far, the largest cause of deforestation."

Land cleared for farming. The clearing includes areas in intermittent stream beds, reducing both quantity and quality of water farther down the watershed.

 

The hillside on the left has been recently cleared for frijole/mixed crop agriculture. The field on the right was cleared a few years ago. The erosion has left the hillside in such poor condition that the reduced crop growth is evident.

Eventually second growth (foreground, right) comes in on the now degraded land. In the background another hillside clearing is evident.


The Ruins at Copan

A link to the Copan Museum page.


May 1998

"I continue to work with APREVISA [editors note: local NGO which works to protect and develop a nearby park], trying to convince them I can't pay for their park to become a major eco-tourism site by next month. They seem to forget we are 5 hours from a paved road and 6 hours from any sort of city or phone. And the road to the park is even worse, with a maximum speed of 10 mph if you're lucky on a dry day. This place is not situated for eco-tourism. Although the area is gorgeous, it's on its way to nowhere."

"I've gone to schools twice to do some environmental education, but both times I've made an absolute ass of myself. We all had fun, though, and the gringo was, as usual, humbled."

"Over Easter week, I and four other natural resources volunteers in my group hiked the tallest mountain in Olancho, La Picucha (almost 9000'). It was a great trip and we saw many birds, butterflies, BUGS, and heard three separate troops of howler monkeys. However, we passed our last water source on the the third day without realizing our mistake until it was too late. We had 2 1/2 liters of water for 5 people for 30 hours. So I and a former biology major went out in search of bromeliads. Found enough water in them to cook and then left a ridiculous trail of uprooted flowers all the way to the summit. Hardly low-impact hiking, but we were thirsty. Beautiful view from the top."


July 3, 1998

"Work has been virtually non-existent lately. It pretty much stopped around June 12 and should pick up again in about a week and a half. Blair, these people are simply [World] 'Cup crazy.' It seems this cycle's bean crop can wait for the completion of these happenings in France. The only technical help I 've been lately is answering questions like "Where the hell is Tunisia?"

El Coyon.


September 1998

Andrew was able to travel and with a photographer from Outside Magazine on a trip to national parks in the eastern part of Honduras. The article should be in the October issue of Outside. [Note later on: It did appear there.]

"The high school has also asked me to teach English next year. No way. I said, maybe, sometimes, I'll help the teacher they already have with a few things like pronounciation, spelling and relevance. This latter pertains to how many times I've heard, "Andres, ?Que significa 'Goo by my lub'?" There's trouble understanding that absolutely no one says "Good-bye my love" in the United States unless it's to their pet, or they want to get hit in the face."


October 8, 1998

The rain is finally coming. I was getting very nervous that next year's dry season was going to get rough, but we seem to be getting back to normal. Of course, now the only problem is that when I want to leave, it's about a 50-50 shot the bus will cross the river. So, life stays interesting.


November 5, 1998

In the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, Andrew and other Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees have been evacuated from Honduras to Panama City for at least three weeks while Peace Corps assesses health and safety issues for Peace Corps Volunteers.


Received November 17, 1998 - Hurricane Mitch

My alarm is usually set for 3:20 a.m. when I plan to leave on the 4 a.m. bus out of town. And when I fell into my bed on Monday, October 26, I was even rather excited for the 7 1/2 hour ride to the house of four other volunteers. After a 2 1/2 week stretch of trying to develop an organizational plan between several small communities scattered hours apart in the surrounding mountains I was ready to see some paved roads, eat anything besides rice and beans, and speak entirely in English. It was sprinkling outside, but I wasn't too concerned; we're in the rainy season right now, anyway. And when you are a Peace Corps Volunteer, regardless of what part of the world you call home for over two years, the unofficial motto goes: "Don't worry. Don't hurry."

My alarm never had a chance to wake me at 3:20 a.m. I woke up at 2:30 a.m. to what sounded like an airplane landing on my house. I jumped out of bed, realized the power was out, lit some candles, and started looking for leaks in the roof. Luckily, my five buckets covered them all. I looked out the windows and saw a muddy road, palm trees trying to duck away from the gusts, and the normal black shadows of the surrounding mountains obscured by the driving rain. I live four hours and two large rivers from a paved road, so I was soon confident my transportation, a second-hand bus, wasn't going anywhere this morning.

Eight days later the bus still hadn't left.

Hurricane Mitch ripped through Honduras, affecting almost all regions, and finally left six days later. Every year, countries throughout the world are damaged by hurricanes, but they almost never stay for more than a few hours to a day or two. Mitch was different. The rain never stopped for more than twenty minutes from Tuesday morning until Sunday afternoon, November 1.

Flooded Farm Fields from Hurricane Mitch.

Watching the rain come down. Hurricane Mitch.

Honduras is a mountainous country with rivers, both large and small, flowing from the mountains into the valleys. The rivers swelled to 2, 3, and even 4 times their normal width and depth. Their speed an size essentially turned the country into clusters of islands. Bridges were smashed, rivers were impassable, all communications were severed, as was all access to food and medicine,. The rivers carried away people, houses, cars, trees, and animals. Water systems were destroyed as mud filled up the tubes and almost nobody had electricity. Hillsides, bare from deforestation , collapsed and wiped out whole communities. Some had warning, others did not. Peoples livelihoods were fast and furiously destroyed.

Peace Corps Honduras decided to evacuate all volunteers on Monday, November 2. I, with no radio communication, electricity, water, nor incoming or departing transportation for the past week, had no idea of this decision. Through the mesmerizing effectiveness of Honduran, country-side communication through notes, messages, couriers on horseback, rumors and luck I was chest deep in the last big river 20 kilometers from my site when one of my bosses pulled up in a Peace Corps Land Cruiser. If I had not been there, he would've left and a helicopter would have been sent to pick me up the next day. Eleven volunteers were eventually evacuated by helicopter. By Monday, November 9, every volunteer from Honduras was in a hotel in Panama City, Panama.

We have learned that we will stay in Panama until the end of the month. Just as you may have seen, we have been watching the news broadcasts of all the foreign aid and relief pouring into Honduras. But we had to leave. Peace Corps is the only international organization that does not base its work out of large cities. Rather, the volunteers live and work well into the country-side and the field. This hurricane destroyed the already weak infrastructure in Honduras. Without electricity, water, and reliable transportation, our health and safety cannot be assured.

But we are going back. And I want to return as soon as I am allowed. I had lived in my site for a year, and not an hour goes by that I don't think of my Honduran friends up there. I just hope that food, water, and medicine are now reaching them. I've unfortunately strayed from my Peace Corps motto; I'm very worried about my friends in Honduras.


Early March, 1999.

I arrived back in country on January 5 from an admittedly refreshing, but altogether much too long absence from my site. On January 7, I hopped on my transport and arrived in Santa Cruz de Guayape to lots of hugs, smiles, and everybody asking if my mom was happy to have seen me. It felt good to be back


Aside from the wasted river banks, Santa Cruz, nor Guayape, look that different. But there has definitely been a change in attitude. At least 60% of the smaller subsistence farmers in this area couldn't plant because of wet or lost land. And the talk on the street is that this will continue until at least September. There is not a lot of money for even the little extras like milk and sugar, and the kids are scraping to find money for notebooks for the new school year. All the kids are wearing their old uniforms and lots of boys between the ages of 17 to 25 are leaving for Tegucigalpa or other cities in search of work to help support their families in the campo.

Bridge over the Rio Guayape. Two days earlier the water was 20 feet lower.


Tegus, is still in bad shape. It still smells down by the river. The bridges are still down, so transport around town is very slow and the taxis have raised their fares. Crime is still higher than before. The south is still in bad shape, I've heard, with inconsistent water and electric service. I've heard the north coast is coming along, with the help of the majority of monetary and technical aid, but I haven't had the chance to get up there yet.


Thankfully, the change in attitude has not been one towards continued apathy and fatalism, or even that of depression, but rather one of a response to a challenge. People in my area are looking at every employment option, alcohol consumption is way down (I do understand this is most likely attributed to lack of money), and the practice of sharing with those who have less continues. Hurricane Mitch (pronounced here as "Meeeesh" only) has become a frame of reference and a sign of the reality of the world in which we all live. Most Hondurans saw and felt nature's strength and ability to destroy liveliheoods in a short period of time and they are asking themselves, and me, what they can do to prevent such catastrophic consequences in the future. I'm pretty sure I'll be busier this year than last.
One terrible repercussion of Mitch's destruction remains to be seen. The storm toppled many trees. The dry (burning) season has been, luckily, postponed due to extremely inconsistent, actually goofy, weather this past month and a half; but the rain will stop and this downed wood will be just that much more fuel for the burning hillsides. I was miserable last May living in a dusty, smoky world with no view of the mountains. I'm afraid this year may be worse.


Attitudes have been altered by Mitch. Hondurans have now seen the destructive side of nature. I think, to a certain degree, this has scared them into thinking more about the future and what this park can mean to them. I would like to relate the communities' and groups' perception of the park, before and after Mitch. Do they see the park as a future eco-tourism site? Maybe. Many people tell me about the quetzals (endangered bird), the lagoon, the dwarf forest, the caves, and subterranean river in the park. These people all want to show me these parts that I haven't already seen. The caves have hardly been explored. The municipality has contracted a tractor to repair the road up to these communities near the park. My last time up, I definitely noticed the difference in the quality of the road. Or, because El Armado is an 8 hour trip from Tegus on a road to nowhere else, maybe the concentration should be to protect El Armado as a watershed. Most people know that the majority of the water comes from a source inside or near the park.

During Mitch, the US Embassy called Guayape on the two-way radio for an update on the damages and what we needed in terms of food, medicine, etc… But when the person in Guayape answered the radio, the embassy said they would only take the information from me, the gringo. So a note is thrown across the Rio Guayape (no one had been able to cross, yet) and arrived at my house around 4 p.m. The note said I had to get to Guayape by seven to give the report to the embassy. I gather some friends and flashlights and we catch a ride down to the river. It's dark. We decide to way a ways up river so that if anything happens we won't get ripped in half by the steel cables lying in the river that used to hold the Indiana Jones-type bridge that was washed out a week ago. I strip down to my boxers and soccer cleats and throw my stuff in a backpack. So the largest of my friends plunges into the river. He gets knocked around a bit, but eventually surfaces on a rock island about halfway across the river. So I go. Two steps in, I get hammered and start tumbling around underwater. I'm very worried about the impact between those steel cables and my teeth, so I plant my cleats and start lunging toward shore. I eventually climb up at the tip of this rock island, about 30 meters down river from where I started. My friends are freaking out, screaming my name and looking all over with their flashlights. I yell, "over here", and the light hits me and all goes silent. I realize there is this glow around me. I look down and see that I am dripping wet and wearing nothing but a backpack and soccer cleats. My whiteness is shining in the pitch black. All my friends are waiting for my reaction, so when I start laughing, they fall to the ground laughing at my white naked expense. We float over the farm fields and barbwire, climb the hill to Guayape and go get the call. The call never came, so I had to stay over night and make the call myself. Two days later I was 25 km south of my site helping carry food from three trucks across a different river when a Peace Corps land cruiser pulled up and told me I was going to Panama for awhile.


But before I was picked up by my boss, everyone in Santa Cruz and Guayape heard about my story. They asked me what I was thinking about as I was underwater heading towards that bridge. I didn't want to be vulgar (although honest) and tell them exactly what I was thinking, so I said, "oh shit, I'm getting carried by the river." Well, the verb cargar is to carry. But I accidentally forgot the "r" in the verb. Cagar is to shit. So when I was explaining my emotions during this ordeal, I ended up saying, "Oh mierda, estoy cagandome, estoy cagandome." This is literally, "Oh shit, I'm shitting myself, I'm shitting myself." I'm still hearing about this 4 months later.

After Hurricane Mitch Andrew helped with translation in medical clinics.


Mid-May 1999.

I spent Easter week at my site bathing (swimming), eating fish (smelly, bony little suckers), and dancing at night. It was good week because all of the college students and people that work in other areas of the country came back for vacation. I was able to catch up with a lot of friends. After that my parents came. We spent ten days traveling around the country and even visited Guayape and Santa Cruz. Nobody in my two sites has recovered from the shock of seeing that I actually do have parents.


Mid-August 1999

" I find myself bewildered by how fast two years can pass. I mean, I have a virtually unsupervised job at the end of a dirt road to nowhere that offers very few possibilities to kill time (work, cook, read, hike, play, or sleep), and still the hours and days fly by.

"I went to Costa Rica and Nicaragua last month on my first vacation out of the country (this, of course, does not include the post-hurricane Uncle Sam all-expense paid jaunt to Panama and it's big brother, the USA). Whoever first claimed that Costa Rica is the "Switzerland of Central America" was right on. It's simply a different world. I saw howler monkeys playing in the trees only forty feet from the Pan-American Highway. They'd be target practice in Hondo.

"Peace Corps work in and around my site has been rather slow. I have planted several home gardens in the schools, the local Catholic church, and two separate women's groups (I also planted some sweet corn at a friend's house-can't wait!!)

"Lastly, the high school library project is now completed. All the books are in and the teachers have been able to incorporate most of the ecology/environmental education themes into their regular classes. Also, the lights have been installed in EDECO's library here in Santa Cruz. All projects, aside from the high school field trip to a national park, are now completed.

"When I do my interviews, I tell the interviewees I am writing a report for my Master's in Forestry at a university in the States. Everyone finds this very interesting and is happy to help me. Most seem surprised that some white guy who looks about 18 almost has his masters. They always ask me if I'm really smart or something."



30 November 1999

This is a very strange time. Everyone is asking me if I want to go home, but the only answer I can truly give them is that "Estoy jodido". Sure, I want to go to the States and see family and friends, ride in something other than decrepit taxis and busses, take hot showers and get away from all the cows and pigs, but I don't want to leave my friends and family here, nor this very mellow lifestyle.
I have not done too much actual work since the last project. Meetings with the high school environmental youth club have continued and we took a field trip to some caves up above Guayape. They organized and completed a school clean up, as well. And during our meetings we talk about ways to help protect the environment a little bit at a time (such as: don't throw trash out the bus windows, don't let the water needlessly run, turn off the lights, pick up trash on the street, etc.). When my replacement came to visit the site, I introduced him to the club and we had a meeting with the two teachers in charge of the group to try and continue with this project in the next two years.
The largest project I've wanted to do with this club is a field trip to a developed Honduran National Park. We have already put down three dates and cancelled them due to rains, but Friday, November 19 is the final day and I am pretty sure the weather will cooperate. One of the teachers and I have been back and forth to Teguc setting up dates and guides with the NGO that works in the park, signing a contract for a direct bus from Guayape to the park and viceversa, and talking to museums. Originally, we had planned to have a cultural night with another high school in Teguc and come back the following day, but the bus is just too expensive for two days and now that classes are done, the logistics are a bit harder to manage. I hope this will be a fun and educational trip for all.
Almost immediately after the COS conference, I was supposed to go to the Cayos Cochinos off the North Coast to do a sea turtle egg count with the Smithsonian Institute. This was cancelled due to weather conditions. Our new Peace Corps director had essentially put us on a No-Travel restriction throughout the entire rainy season. I thought this a bit rash, but I also see his point: Even with all the money that came in after Mitch, essentially nothing has been done, not in the capital, the North Coast, and especially not in the campo. So, I basically sat around my house for a week wondering where all the money went.
The only other major work I did, outside of the project, was to translate for a week-and-a-half-long medical brigade. I do enjoy these. And this one was special because on the last Saturday we had the first Guayape Olympics. We organized sack races, three-legged races, wheelbarrow races, Frisbee tosses, shoot-outs (futbol, not 9mm.), and this weird game with shaving cream and balloons for over 300 kids from Santa Cruz and Guayape. My sitemate and I almost went crazy managing that many hyper kids in Spanish, but they loved it, and I laughed a lot, too.
You ask the question, "How does what you did compare with what you had planned?" That's easy. I often feel as if I haven't done anything that I had planned to help APREVISA and, especially, EDECO get projects funded to help protect and conserve the park. This just didn't happen. Sure, I may have gotten the ball rolling, but I really wanted these projects to be just starting to hit full speed when my replacement comes. I did, however, accomplish what I hoped to in the high school, and I even feel that this work is "sustainable". But more than anything, I know I have done what I had not planned. I have lived for two years and been accepted by two communities that are basically in the middle of nowhere. I have made friends that I don't want to leave. I have a mom and brothers and sisters from the family that I used to live with that I truly love. I have adapted whistles, noises, pointing with my lips, and head and body gestures that are going to be just weird when I unconsciously use them in the States. Basically, I now love and care for people that live in a place that often isn't even a dot on a map. I didn't plan on that.
O.K. Although you did not list that I should report on progress of the proposal, that is what I need to do in this report. A lot has happened in recent months with EDECO, APREVISA, and COHDEFOR, and this is more important than listing documents (of which there are none) or a site description (which is done and is not that complicated).
The EDECO plan for environmental education and watershed reforestation that we've been working on for a year and a half has essentially been terminated. We were asking for L250,000 (which included the cost of a motorcycle) and the Board of Directors of Fundacion Vida decided to offer us no more than L30,000. Why I find this so frustrating is because we met with the Director of Fundacion Vida in June and he approved the whole thing, including the bike. However, he is now in the States on business, and the Board felt that EDECO took too long to finalize the project and, therefore, isn't capable of managing such a large amount of money (this is absolutely not true, EDECO has had two previous latrine and library projects of over L500,000 that worked out fine). It seems the person in Teguc who volunteered to help out EDECO with the format of the project and the communications with Fundacion Vida failed to do so. The Board also listed that they aren' t sure about EDECO's technical knowledge to be able to reforest watersheds, but I was in every meeting saying that a Peace Corps Natural Resources Volunteer will be in Santa Cruz until 2004. Unbelievable.
And more Honduran news from the "typical" category. The Senate is now meeting and it seems that all COHDEFOR offices in the campo will be dissolved, if not the entire organization by January 2000. Apparently, the government doesn't have enough money for the Forest Service to exist. Priorities in this country are crystal clear, and, again, where did the money go?
I had my interview with Othonial David from APREVISA and COHDEFOR. APREVISA has this huge, ridiculous project that will cost around $6 million. I'm not exactly sure who he's trying to fool, but the interview was very interesting and I have lots of notes on the history and theories of both APREVISA and COHDEFOR.
I bought maps and have collected lots of information about Mitch and the national environment. I'll have a set of clear maps and one set with the park delineated and major communities highlighted.
By the way, lately it's been about 55-60 F. degrees in the morning and night. I've been so cold that I've been wearing three top layers, long pants, and boots everywhere. And my teeth still chatter. So, everyone's been telling me that I should just stay here forever because I'm just going to freeze to death in the snow up there.
Vamos a Ver…

Thoughts on Peace Corps and the future
I have enjoyed my Peace Corps service and I would recommend it to certain other people, but I do not think I could start all over and do it again. Peace Corps is easy and it is hard. I could spend over 730 days in a hammock reading books and nobody would really blink an eye, but if I want to use a phone, buy vegetables, or get some cash, I need to get on a school bus for a very exhausting 6-hour ride. That gets to you. I remember when I first came out here, I would stare out the bus window and watch the mountains and fields go by. Now I stare out the window looking for the flock of parrots that often accompany the bus, but usually I just listen to the sentiments of my butt telling me which parts of the road are tolerable and which parts I just learned to hate.
I have had some problems with Peace Corps administration policy. And these are not uncommon to those found in huge organizations such as USAID and the World Bank. Basically, rules and regulations are made in the capital in Tegucigalpa, or worse, in Washington, that just simply do not apply to life in the campo. I am happy that most of the administration doesn't seem to pretend to know what our life is like in the campo, but rather, they just seem to not care. The consistency is comforting and the new memos I receive two months after post-date are good comic relief, but this remains an issue with all of us that work alone in a rather remote area.
I feel that my Master's International experience has enriched my two years. This project has forced me to go out into the mountains and find people to talk to. I have learned more through these experiences than I would have just working in the larger towns with the NGO's. Who knows if my thesis will be any good or even remotely interesting to readers, but this experience has given me friends, family, and most importantly now that I'm leaving, memories that will be with me forever.
And I'll probably have some pretty cool stories for some grandkids-if it ever comes to that.


Andrew's Official Description of Service


Description of Peace Corps Volunteer Service
Andrew Brower
Honduras, Central America

After successfully completing an extensive and competitive application process stressing applicant language aptitude, cultural adaptability, cross-cultural sensitivity and biological knowledge, Andrew Brower was invited to serve in the Peace Corps as a Natural Resources Management Volunteer in Honduras, Central America.

On September 23, 1997, Andrew began an intensive twelve-week training program in the Honduran village of Santa Lucia. The training combined theoretical and experiential learning, and included the following components:

Language: (200 hours)
Intensive Spanish training, with an emphasis on conversational skills and colloquialisms, realized through immersion techniques and classroom instruction. The classes were a complement to a three-month live-in experience with a local Honduran family.

Technical: (191 hours)
Protected areas management overview focusing on methods of environmental education, interpretation and promotion, integrated buffer zone management, operative and strategic planning, non-governmental organization (NGO) development, life zone and tropical ecology, agroforestry, soil conservation, watershed management and protection, and ecotourism; all of which were supplemented with practice in the field.

Community Development Theory and Cross-Cultural Adaptation: (127 hours)
Studies of political, economic, and social context of Honduras and Latin America focusing on geography, anthropology, history, the arts, customs, theology, and development history including the nature of assistance projects in Developing Nations.

On December 17, 1997, upon successfully completing the twelve-week training program, Andrew was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He was assigned to work as a first-generation volunteer in Guayape, Olancho, a rural town in Central Honduras.

Andrew's primary assignment was to work towards the conservation of the El Armado National Wildlife Refuge located in the Municipality of Guayape. His responsibilities were to develop and coordinate environmental education activities and programs with local elementary and secondary schools, and to strengthen the NGOs APREVISA and EDECO by developing projects for the protection of El Armado. Other duties included working with local farmers on sustainable agriculture practices and serving as a technical resource for the Honduran Forest Service (COHDEFOR) and the municipality.

Andrew's Peace Corps service also included his studies for the Peace Corps Master's International program. While working towards a Masters of Science in Forestry from Michigan Technological University, he developed an ethnographic study of 5 communities and 4 organizations that critically influence the future of El Armado National Wildlife Refuge. To develop this project, Andrew needed to develop trust within these communities and organizations to produce community assessments, conduct interviews with key informants, and formulate a hypothesis designed to express how the people in the municipality of Guayape feel El Armado will be a part of their future.

Andrew Brower's accomplishments during his Peace Corps service are summarized as follows:

· Formed an environmental youth group (27 members) in the Guayape High School. The majority of Andrew's work was dedicated to education in the primary and secondary schools in the Municipality of Guayape. This included formal teaching of students.

· Organized and led environmental excursions to areas of interest around the Municipality of Guayape and to La Tigra, Honduras' oldest national park.

· Improved the Guayape High School Library with the addition of over 200 books and 10 maps to provide teachers with more resources, students with more opportunity to learn, and the community access to literature and science.

· Organized and led bi-weekly meetings with teachers to improve the curriculum of environmental education in the High School.

· Trained 10 members of EDECO (Empresa de Desarrollo Comunitario) in environmental education presentation.

· Continuously worked in environmental education in seven communities surrounding El Armado National Wildlife Refuge.

· Constructed tree nurseries and organic compost piles in 4 communities surrounding El Armado. Produced a total of 4000 plants.

· Supervised 3 groups of women and children in organic gardening techniques including garden construction, nutritional values and preparation of vegetables, incorporation of nitrogen-fixing plants, soil properties, and soil conservation practices, leaving 45 people trained in improving the nutrition of their families.

· Coordinated town clean-up events with teachers and students in Guayape.

· Participated in a youth camp development program, funded by USAID, in a weeklong "Mini-Campamento" located in Punta Sal, Atlantida.

· Translated for U.S. sponsored medical brigades. (150 hours)

· Regularly visited families, community leaders, and teachers to carry out planned activities or confirm upcoming projects.

· Performed all work in Spanish.

Pursuant to section 5(f) of Peace Corps Act, 22 U.S.C. & 2504(f) as amended, any former Volunteer employed by the United States Government following his or her service is entitled to have any period of satisfactory service credited for purposes of retirement, seniority, reduction in force, leave and other privileges based on length of government service. That service shall not be credited towards the completion of the probationary or trial period or completion of any service requirement or career appointment.

This is to certify in accordance with Executive Order No. 11103 of April 10, 1963, that Andrew Brower served satisfactorily as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His service ended on December 1, 1999. He is therefore eligible to be appointed as a career-conditional employee in the competitive civil service on a non-competitive basis. This benefit under the Executive Order extends for a period of one year after termination of volunteer service, except that the employing agency may extend the period for up to three years for a former volunteer who enters military service, pursues studies at a recognized institution of higher learning, or engages in other activities which, in the view of the appointing agency, warrants extension of the period.


Always happy to write a thesis!


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