WASHINGTON – Peace Corps volunteer Sandra Rose Wildermuth of Virginia Beach, Virginia, is working with her community in Paraguay to renovate the local youth center, which serves as a soup kitchen and space for educational resources and counseling.
The renovations will include expanded space for educational seminars, a safer and updated kitchen, improved recreational spaces and repairs to the roof and building drainage system.
“The center provides the children with basic necessities that they may not receive in the home, such as meals, educational support, instruction in basic hygiene practices, medical attention and counseling,” said Wildermuth, a graduate of Old Dominion University who has been living and working in Paraguay since 2011.
A structure was donated to the local Christian Community Center for a youth center that would provide programs and educational resources. The building has since undergone some improvements, but critical renovations are still necessary. New improvements will allow for designated counseling spaces for at-risk adolescents and classroom spaces for health education, as well as improved spaces for the children to play.
“The center is designed to benefit the growing number of children who roam the streets while their parents work, who live in extreme poverty, or who are abandoned. Our objective is to continue improving the lives of socially disadvantaged or at-risk youth by strengthening certain elements of our current center,” Wildermuth said.
The local community has already raised money to purchase construction materials, kitchen cabinets, pipes for water drainage and a portion of the labor. The funds received will go to cover the costs of labor, roof repairs, drainage system installation, paint and a new kitchen stove.
A portion of the funds for the project will be raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which helps support Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide.
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 3,580 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Paraguay since the program was established in 1967. Currently, 257 volunteers serve there. Volunteers work in the areas of agriculture, community development, education, youth development, environment and health. Volunteers are trained and work in Guaraní and Spanish.