DANBURY, Conn. — With an interest in global issues inspired by her diverse hometown of Danbury, Maryangela Amendola has found her calling on the other side of the world, venturing all the way to Mozambique to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer.
"After my children, Alycia and Christian, embarked on their own journeys to college, it was time to pursue mine," Amendola said via email as she explained her choice to join the Peace Corps. "The mission matches my education degrees, experience working in social services, and issues that I’m passionate about – education and basic human standards of living."
She hopes her work can make a lasting difference in Mozambique.
"The Peace Corps believes in sustainability in which volunteers plant seeds that continue to flourish long after we have left," she said.
Amendola now works as a health volunteer in Magude, an agricultural-based village about 75 miles from the capital with a population of 4,100 people.
Mozambique, a country in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean, gained independence in 1975 after four centuries of Portuguese rule. It is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world.
There, she first-hand can "see and feel why all those issues — poverty, malnutrition, malaria, HIV epidemic, living conditions, lack of water, electricity, gender issues, availability of schools, access to healthcare – are so relevant to working here and assisting toward bettering lives," Amendola said.
With limited resources at the local hospital, her work is challenging. The projects she has put into motion include making monthly appointments in the pediatric unit and reducing the wait time for prescriptions.
"There is still much work for me to do, including workshops for mothers on nutrition. And I am looking forward to introducing parent education on child development, which hasn’t come to Mozambique yet," she said.
Amendola misses her children and family but finds she enjoys the pace of life in Mozambique.
"The process of hard work is different," she said. "There’s no factory machines doing the work for you. It’s the effort you put in using your hands and creative ideas."
One thing she does not enjoy is the heat.
"We have days that have hit 105 degrees, and we aren’t even in the peak of summer yet," Amendola said. It's warmer in her house, with its a tin roof, than outside in the shade.
But despite the heat and limited resources, Amendola is happy to have landed in Mozambique.
"I’m receiving more than I am giving and more importantly, I can see the potential among the youth that this country will improve and grow from this underdeveloped box that it has been confined within," she said.
Read more about Amendola and follow her work at her blog: Maryangela's Venture To Mozambique ... by being a Peace Corps volunteer.
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