We are finally starting to see some concrete results of a much awaited project. So much of our service in Peace Corps is about intangible projects. Many of the activities that we participate in or seeds we plant will not be realized for years to come and we may never see the results. It has been refreshing to work on a project and see it completed before we leave.
In March 2007, we started writing a grant project with the youth group, JAGUAR. They participated in several community diagnostic meetings late in 2006 to determine what the best project for the community would be. In the end, we came up with a committee of 6 young men and women from the youth group to write a proposal for a grant to build a community space next to the library to allow for more study and training space.
As Peace Corps volunteers, we have access to a Small Project Assistance Grant (SPA) through USAID. The idea behind SPA grants is that it allows the volunteer to guide a community through the diagnostic and grant writing process, while enabling them to gain important skills along the way. The community is essentially in charge of writing the proposal and following through with the project once the funding is approved.
In May we received $3,205 to begin the project. The unique part of this grant is that 30% of the total costs must be covered or donated as in-kind contributions from the community. The community receives a little monetary assistance to get started, but in return they must contribute and invest themselves into the project. It's a beautiful concept and for the most part was very successful in Salacuim.
The committee was in charge of organizing all the in-kind labor from the community as well as being resourceful with the materials that we needed to supplement the $3,000. We hired a skilled mason from Salacuim at a reduced rate to do the concrete work, roof and doors, but all the kids from the youth group, the scholarship kids and all their parents were in charge of donating their time and manpower to the project.
We finally finished the building in December and the group threw a small inauguration party to celebrate. After 2 years of, at times, not seeing large changes, it is wonderful to see the success that the SPA grant has brought to Salacuim.