Sarasotan in Peace Corps teaches and builds in Africa

January 29th, 2008 by admin

Published Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

For most recent college graduates, living in over 100-degree temperatures with no air-conditioning, television or fast food in sight would not be a top choice, but Kate Donovan, 24, chose to do exactly that when she graduated from Boston College in 2006.

Donovan is one of the thousands of Peace Corps volunteers who have enlisted with the organization every year since its creation by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Donovan felt that “this was an experience that only came around once,” and that this was the best time in her life for it.

So, rather than returning to Sarasota, where she was born and raised along with her sisters, Patricia and Deirdre, and her brother, Sean, she packed her bags and flew, drove and rode to Mayo-Oulo, a small village in a northern province of Cameroon, Africa. Donovan has already completed 15 months of her commitment, and will return to Cameroon soon to finish her last year.

In her time in Mayo-Oulo, Donovan has been hard at work teaching elementary students about basic hygiene and high school students about the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention and testing, and doing prenatal consultations with expectant mothers.

In addition, she recently completed a project to build latrines at the local elementary school where previously there were 900 students and 12 teachers, but no bathroom facilities, save a garbage pile behind the school.

After returning to the village, Donovan will begin planning her next project: repairing three wells in low-income areas of the village and four in “the bush,” with construction beginning in February.

Without these wells, villagers have had to walk three kilometers each way to get to the nearest water source. Donovan hopes that the repairs will allow the wells to provide water during the dry season, which usually lasts from December to March. In the last year, Donovan has become a teacher, a nurse and a civil engineer

But she said she was most excited to return to the United States to begin her next chapter as a law student and fiancée to Brian Pennington, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis.