Mid Service Funk

I’ve been in a funk as of late. Half of my service is nearly behind me and I’m worried about how effective I’ve been thus far.

Most of us take on this experience because we not only want to do something good but something, anything good and sustainable. We want to make a difference. I want to make a difference.

Yeah I’ve done stuff. I have 400 students of all ages and communication abilities that I have attempted to teach. I helped plan World AIDS Day. I planned World Malaria Day. I have taught the importance of home sanitation. I helped to write a successful grant to turn a non-functioning water source into a functioning one that benefits more than 750 members of the community. I’ve given children under 5 vitamin A supplements during my community’s measles campaign. I’ve helped build and harvest fish ponds. I can’t name all the activities let alone the projects in the works.

But will any of this bring sustainable change?

Is it possible to tell if a project is sustainable during your service? Do you have to wait until you leave to see if it continues?

I don’t want to be the volunteer that comes and funnels money for 2 years and leaves. Money will definitely bring instant gratification but it’s not the solution. The solution often lies in education, community strategy, mobilization, and plan creation  or proper use of available resources…and maybe consideration for seeking  outside resources. It takes a lot of time to achieve.

Have I just been funneling in resources? Is that all I’ve done so far?

The give a man a fish, teach a man to fish leaves out a major piece of the puzzle: convincing that man that it is better to learn how to fish though he may be starving for a month while he learns.




*Note: The day after writing this was a good day. I considered not posting this but not posting would be a disservice to future volunteers who read this in hopes of understanding real life as a volunteer. Its not all success stories. 



  1. You certainly are not alone with these thoughts. I believe that in whatever good works we do in the world, we often do not see immediate results. Sometimes we plant the seed, others water it, and others harvest. I see two kinds of sustainability. One is the impact we have on individuals. For example, maybe you teach an English class, and that student, years later, helps someone else learn English, after you have left your assignment, or maybe they become a teacher. Another kind of sustainability might be if the MOE decided to hire an in-country teacher to continue the program, after the Peace Corps Volunteer has left. I have 4 days left until COS. I have worked on 4 projects in different areas of the country. Two I would not call sustainable successes, at present – an eco-tourism business plan,and health survey of village elders, but they may be helpful to organizations in the future. Two others – a teacher training program and classes in drawing, have been successful in terms of transferring skills to individuals who hopefully will make use of them in the future. Little steps, is what a Program Manager told me, when I was frustrated, and wow, is it the truth. Or, as I like to think of it, it takes a lot of drops of water to fill the glass.


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