Bread and Business Acumen

When Markey Culver signed up for the Peace Corps, she requested to go anywhere besides Rwanda…she was placed in Rwanda and 2 years later the reason became clear. She “accidentally” founded The Women’s Bakery.

She spent her first year as a PCV eating 1 meal a day in solidarity with the villagers where she served. Eventually, hunger inspired her to get creative with local ingredients.

Take aways:

  • Markey built a bakery that was later bulldozed- a great lesson in capacity building
  • How do you create hyper-local economies that are reliable?
  • What can Hamburger University teach us about development?

NOTE: apologies for the feedback in the background


Watch other interviews from our Journey to Social Entrepreneurship Summit.

Allie Hughey, Baylor International Pediatric Aids Initiative

Me and an elephant

gyg-logo-teal-transparent1Name: Allie H.
University: UCSD
Major: Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Type of Work: Medical/Public Health
Region: Africa
Length of stay: 3-6 months

Tell us about the nonprofit/social business you work for:
I am working in the capital city of Swaziland, a tiny kingdom located inside of South Africa. Primarily, I work with the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) as a research volunteer in the BCM Clinical Centre of Excellence pediatric HIV clinic in Mbabane. At the clinic I am engaged in a variety of small and large scale clinical research projects (mostly retrospective) directed towards supporting policy changes related to HIV care and treatment in Swaziland.

How did you find your position?
One of the Baylor AIDS Corps doctors is a close family friend. I contacted him when I decided to take a year off between undergrad and graduate school and he was more than happy for me to have me travel to Swaziland and help out at the clinic.

What’s your typical day like?
My work schedule varies greatly depending on the day because I am involved in a number of projects. Everyday brings a different set of responsiblities and tasks for me! I love it because my work is unpredictable, challenging and constantly changing. Some projects are long term while others have been short and intensive for a few weeks at a time. I typically work 6-8 hours a day and the three organizations are conveniently located on the same street in Mbabane so it’s easy for me to walk back and forth between them.

What kind of people do you work with?
I work with all kinds of individuals and I love it! At the clinic we have international doctors, local Swazi nurses, pharmacists, social workers etc, as well as volunteers of all ages from all over the world. I am on the younger side of the age spectrum here but the community is perpetually changing so the age make-up changes almost weekly. People from all backgrounds live and work in Mbabane such as health professionals, consultants, businessmen and women, journalists, etc.

Me and my Rwandan Family + Marta (the Spanish girl I live with also)

What are your living accommodations?
When I initially arrived I stayed with my family friends but quickly moved into a one bedroom apartment attached to a house owned by an amazing Rwandan woman. I have definitely become part of the family and eat breakfast and dinner with them each day and spend weekends at BBQs (or braais in SiSwati) with their family friends. My apartment is fully furnished with a full kitchen and bathroom and I have wireless internet access as well. There are very few if any “apartments” in Swaziland like there are in the US; all of my friends here live in houses or rent rooms from families.

What do you do in your free time?
Lots! I’m fairly certain that my social calendar in Africa is twice as busy as it ever was in the States. I am blessed to have a wonderful expatriate community here in Swaziland full of adventurous and brilliant individuals. Each week we play ultimate frisbee with a group of local Swazi teens and have weekly themed dinners (mexican food night is my favorite!). I have been taking portuguese lessons twice a week, running in the local game parks on the weekends and hiking all around Swaziland. We take weekend trips to the beaches in Mozambique and South Africa whenever we get the chance or travel further within southern Africa on long weekends. Swaziland also has ridiculous events such as the annual goat and rat races and Slojo half marathon which I have participated in. Never a dull moment in the Swaz!

Table Mountain, Robben Island

Allie and some of her girlfriends after running the half marathon

Share a favorite memory or story from your experience!
Daily life in Africa is an adventure in itself and its hard to choose just one experience. I’d say one of the most memorable, and quintessentially African, moments is when my friends and I ran into a hippo sleeping on the street corner as we were walking back from dinner!

What inspired you to do this kind of work? If you are taking a gap year, what motivated you to do that?
My gap year was motivated by the pursuit to discover my future career path. I knew I wanted to study public health in graduate school but I wanted to be certain that it was for me before dedicating two years of my life to a program. After my time in Africa I am 100% certain that this line of work is for me and the first-hand experience I have gained from working in a resource-limited setting is irreplaceable.

How are you financing your time?
I am financed by own personal savings and some contributions from my lovely family. I had a difficult time finding a paid internship or volunteer position that was exactly what I wanted. Although its tough to finance it all on my own, the freedom I have to create and shape my own experience abroad is pretty much priceless. I have made my experience into exactly what I wanted it to be.

What kind of special skills do you need to do your job?

Menzie, Mduduzi and I at the top of a mountain in Swaz (Menzie and Mduduzi are two of the Swazi teens I play frisbee with each week and love dearly)

Do you feel like you are making a positive, critical impact on the global community?
On a personal/individual level I am making an impact on the daily lives of the Swazi teens I work and play with. My friends and I provide them with a critical support system they are lacking at home in most cases. The work I am doing at the clinic and other NGOs definitely has the ability to have an impact at the national level by informing organizations and health care providers of better ways to direct care and resources to patients. Most of my projects are still works in progress but the eventual outcomes will be influential to patient care and treatment in Swaziland.

What have you learned about the nonprofit and social business world in your experience?
One of the most important things I have learned is that you must work within the system, whatever that system may be-social, political etc. I spent quite a bit of time going about my work as if I was still in America and found myself frustrated day to day. Eventually I realized that I needed to work within the bureaucratic systems in place, thereby saving myself from a bit of frustration and grief. To the same extent, it is equally important for organizations to work on capacity building within the communities they operate in to establish sustainable programs.Do you think you make a unique contribution to your organization as a young person? Is your perspective or approach different from others?

Do you think you make a unique contribution to your organization as a young person? Is your perspective or approach different from others?
Yes. I have found that many of the employees working with NGOs in Swaziland are quite young and I think the vibrant personalities and fresh ideas provided by our generation contribute positively to the programs that are designed and implemented here. The dynamic between the younger and older employees is very valuable because it combines new ideas with wisdom and experience.

How do you see this experience fitting into your long-term goals?
My time here has solidified my passion for global public health work. I have had opportunities to experience or observe many aspects of the field that I did not know existed previously and I am confident that having that knowledge will benefit my studies in the future. My main goal has not changed but I have a more focused objective for the future.

What’s next?
I will be volunteering in Sao Paulo, Brazil for 6 months beginning in January before starting graduate school next fall to pursue a Master in Public Health degree! After graduate school I plan to continue public health work abroad.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you came to your position?
The amount of communication skills it would require. A lot of my work involves communicating ideas clearly and succintly to other organizations and government programs. I have definitely developed my communication skills greatly over the past few months.

Do you have any advice for prospective gap-givers?
Taking a gap year is a wonderful way to figure out exactly what you want to do and provide you with a more focused perspective for future endeavors. I highly recommend taking some time off to give back to the world and learn; learn about yourself, your ambitions, the world, opportunities, other cultures, everything! All of your experiences will benefit you in the future.

Are you blogging about your work or travel? How can we stay in touch?
Blogging @

Would you be willing to take questions from potential Gappers?

Rise Up Development Collective: Starting an NGO and Building Community as a Student

Before Jeremy Kirshbaum was the USA Facilitator of the RiseUp Development Collective in the Volta Region of Ghana, he was a Politics and Economics double major at UC Santa Cruz. Today, he has been featured by UCTV Prime as well as in UCEAP systemwide publications. Jeremy took his experience with UCEAP Ghana as a time to build an international community and shares some of his strategies for using the power of connection in grassroots projects here with GiveYourGap. The following essay solely expresses the views of Mr. Kirshbaum and his experience with RiseUp Ghana.

In 2010, I travelled to Ghana to study abroad through the University of California Education Abroad Program.  While there, a group of friends and I started the Rise Up Development Collective, and the Wli Todzi Clinic Project.  As of 2013, the Wli Todzi clinic has walls and a roof, and soon will have doors, windows, and a ceiling.  Progress has been slow, but we are very proud to have come this far.  Starting an international project from scratch has not been easy, but through many people across the globe recognizing a need and rising to the occasion, our dream is slowly becoming a reality.  A major contribution to this has been the power of connection, one of the many important tools for a grassroots project.  An international community of individuals inspired to make change has grown up around the project.  Ultimately, this has been a great an outcome as the progress on the clinic itself, and nearly as difficult to accomplish.  We’d like to share our story of how we got to where we are today, and some strategies we’ve used that we think will work for you too.

The village of Wli Todzi rests on the peak of the Agumatsa mountain, in the east of Ghana near the Togo border.  The village’s beauty is astonishing.  From plateau at the summit, you can look out all the way across the Volta River valley 3000 feet below.  The village is nestled in the rainforest, and surrounded by fertile lands that the 1500 people living in and around the village farm with a skillfulness recognized throughout the region.  The people of Wli Todzi are incredibly strong.  There is no easily accessible road to the village, so everything from the outside is carried up the mountain on their heads, or brought in from the neighboring country, Togo.  Although for a young American such as myself, the climb can be very tiring, there are old women in the village who go up and down the mountain twice in a day.  The villagers deals with the sometimes- vertical path with aplomb—the  sporadic electricity that is available in the village is made possible because the villagers carried up every electrical pole by hand.  Because of their isolation, most of life in Wli Todzi passes with a peaceful regularity.  The people are friendly to one another, work hard for their families, go to church on Sunday and enjoy the occasional palm wine during celebrations.  Most who visit the village fall in love with it.

Although their peaceful isolation is easy to romanticize, it is also the cause of great distress for the villagers.  When there is a medical emergency, for instance complications with childbirth, then the villagers must carry the patient down the mountain on a stretcher.  This is time-consuming and dangerous, and results in deaths every year.  Since Christmas of 2012, there have been 12 fatalities, 5 of which were children.  Many of them could have been prevented with easy access to healthcare in the village.  Wli Todzi is a beautiful place, but its isolation can be deadly.

Slowly, a growing collective of people across the world have come together around the project.  At first it was just people who had been to the village that worked on the project.  It is matter- of- fact to us that this clinic needs to be built.  The people of Wli Todzi are our friends, and it is natural to want to help friends.  The difficult part is getting people involved who have never been to the village at all.  Most people who have helped with the project have never heard of Ghana, and will probably never go there.  However, these people are the most essential and most inspiring element of the project.  These people participate in the project simply because they think it’s a good thing.  Sometimes, though, they can take some convincing.  Here are some strategies we’ve found that work well for helping people feel connected to a place very different from their own,

1.     Use reference points that they understand.

No matter how different the place, there is going to be some kind of overlap between cultures.  Playing up how exotic the people are makes people feel disconnected.  Talking about elements of the project people understand, like food, holidays, or jokes, you can make the most “exotic” of places feel familiar.

2.     People, people, people

It is essential that any project have a solid budget, timeline, and theoretical framework.  However, conveying the project only in this fashion quickly becomes boring or confusing for people.  However, the individuals involved in the project are something that newcomers to the project can connect to, even if they haven’t met them.  Talking about the personalities of the people in the village makes the project come alive for people, and makes them feel like they are dealing with a community of real people, not an accounting apparatus.

3.     The community at home is just as important as the community abroad

People need to be able to talk about what they’re doing with others.  Through events, social media, and even small projects, a community at home is maintained.  Because project participants can’t call the people of Wli Todzi and talk to them directly, having a group of people around them who are working on the project together makes them feel more connected- otherwise they can feel lost in space.

There is no silver bullet for an international grassroots project.  It takes very hard work, stubbornness, and an appetite for overcoming insurmountable odds and disappointment.  However, for us, it has continued to pay off.  Not financially (we are a 100% volunteer program), but because the clinic is going to be completed, because of what we’re learning in the process, and because of the incredible people that we’ve met at every step of the way—people we now call friends.  This is what keeps us going on the project, and will keep us going until the clinic is built, equipped and staffed.

And our connections are growing.  We’re excited this summer to announce the first ever opportunity for people to travel with us in Ghana, and visit the village of Wli Todzi.  We’re teaming up the Operation Groundswell to work with community groups all across the country- including 3 days in the village of Wli Todzi!  If you’d like to travel with us this summer, climb the Agumatsa mountain with us, see the clinic in person, as well as work with community organizations all across Ghana, please visit our website.   However, even, if you don’t think travel is in your plans for this summer, you can still get involved by helping fundraise for the clinic project in your hometown or at your university.  If you’d like to help, or just want to know more about the project, check out, or email us at  We’d be happy to hear from you, and welcome you into our family.  With your help, we can Rise Up!

IMG_9064-1 SAM_0175-1 IMG_9072-1 IMG_9066-1 IMG_3161-1 IMG_3015-1 _DSC6131-1Stretcher


Photos courtesy of Jeremy Kirshbaum, RiseUp

Ashley Bulgarelli, Volta Aid Foundation

Name, Age:Ashley Bulgarelli, 23
University, Major:Queensland University of Technology, Bachelor of Business
Length of stay:26 Months
Type of Work:Medical/Public Health, Education, Infrastructure (building houses, roads, wells), Community Development, Childcare

Tell us about the nonprofit/social business you work for:
Volta Aid Foundation is based in the Volta Region of Ghana. We work in towns and villages including Ho, Adaklu-Goefe, Adaklu-Tsrefe, Adaklu-Waya, Tsito and Kilkor-Agbozume. Our website is

How did you find your position?
I founded the organization!

What’s your typical day like?
My position as the founder and director means I have to work on all areas of the organization, everything from volunteer and staff management to project site overseeing to budgeting and accounting works. I work endless hours.

One of our intensive first aid workshops complete with resuscitation mannequins.

What kind of people do you work with?
Younger, older, locals, international – everyone! Education and training depends on the specific program volunteers work on but most training is done onsite.

What are your living accommodations?
I sleep in a single room attached to the office which holds my mattress and my gas burner. Simple but it’s all I need.

What do you do in your free time?
I play football (soccer)! I have joined a local team and have dressed everyone up in jerseys from my team back home and shin pads and we train daily and play every Sunday.

Share a favorite memory or story from your experience!
I lived with a little Ghanaian boy when he started to speak. One of the first words he could say was ASH, ASH, ASH. From that point on every white person he sees he calls them Ash, even to this day!

What inspired you to do this kind of work? If you are taking a gap year, what motivated you to do that?
I was traveling around the world and ended up in London and was applying for my Irish working holiday visa and searching for jobs. I just remember spending hours upon hours of time on the web and something clicked in my head and I thought this is not for me. Two weeks later I was in Ghana.

How are you financing your time?
I do not take a stipend from the organisation. I rely purely on my personal savings and friends support.

What kind of special skills do you need to do your job?

Do you feel like you are making a positive, critical impact on the global community?
I believe that the difference I make is enormous. Through my efforts we have sponsored two forgotten girls to attend school. Two might not sound like a lot, but it is two less girls apparently destined to be a market lady. We have also trained over 200 people in first aid and provided over 500 people with diabetes counseling and information. The list goes on but I truly believe in education and empowerment (however cliche that sounds) – knowledge is power. I am not just talking about school education but broader education such as first aid, health issues, business skills, life skills, social skills. A good example is the children in our partner orphanages speak better English, have better social skills, and achieve higher grades in school because of the impact of our volunteers over the past two years. This kind of impact cannot be measured quantitatively but helps the child more than anything else in this world.

This is our lovely host family for our volunteers in Ho. Bea, Sena, Senyo, me, Clinton.

What have you learned about the nonprofit and social business world in your experience?
Unfortunately I have become very critical of NGO’s and not-for-profits operating in Ghana since I have spent so much time on the ground. I think there are far too many organizations doing the same job and a complete spread of resources and know-how. I also think many nonprofits have lost sight of their vision. On the other hand there are plenty of organizations out there doing amazing work and millions of people out there who want to help but don’t know how to go about it and don’t know who they can trust. This lack of trust is hurting the ‘industry’.

Do you think you make a unique contribution to your organization as a young person? Is your perspective or approach different from others?
Definitely. I founded the organization when I was 21 so obviously as young person – a very young person – I believe I am more down-to-earth with what can be achieved and my approach is very relaxed and personal. I believe to understand what people want you have to live side by side with them, in their homes, with their family, eat with them and cook with them, and only then you will see what they see and know what needs to be done. I have done this by being a recently graduated poor university bum who could not afford to live and act differently.

How do you see this experience fitting into your long-term goals?
It was changed my whole life. Before I was a globetrotting party animal, now I am a better person. I will always be linked with Ghana, development and social work.

Partner Orphanage.

What’s next?
Setting up a workshop in Ghana to produce goods to export to Australia.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you came to your position?
Nothing. I came with an open mind and unbiased point of view.

Do you have any advice for prospective gap-givers?
Come without expectations and, as we like to say at Volta Aid Foundation, be prepared to ‘give a little, learn a lot’.

Are you blogging about your work or travel? How can we stay in touch? – For volunteer inquiries – For personal messages to myself

Would you be willing to take questions from potential Gappers?


Non-Profit Video Feature: International Rescue Committee, San Diego

Welcome to GiveYourGap’s first feature on a nonprofit organization, the International Rescue Committee. As you may know, the IRC has branches all over the world, working for the IRC’s mission: to help lead refugees from harm to home. Through refugee resettlement prorams, career development, microenterprise and many other ways – IRC branches everywhere are making a daily impact in refugees’ lives.

GYG is here because the IRC has countless opportunities for young people to get involved.
IRC-San Diego has an innovative, sustainable approach to a common challenge for refugees: food security.Since this is branch of IRC-San Diego that is so special, our feature focuses on the ways IRC has helped refugees find security in what we so often take for granted: food.

Our feature here – the video we’ve created and the interviews we link you to – will never be able to give a complete picture of all the ways the International Rescue Committee and its volunteers make a lasting impact for refugees and community development. Our mission is to share some of these stories, learn about the amazing ways IRC and young volunteers give back, what they have learned about development, themselves, change and the nonprofit world. Get inspired and get involved.

Hear from IRC volunteers who can give you the real inside scoop on volunteer experiences at the IRC: Madison McLaughlin and Lara Hamburger.

A Bit Of the Background
The International Rescue Committee San Diego was our first choice for a first profile for a number of reasons.

(1) the GYG team consists of a bunch of UC San Diego grads, all familiar with the great work IRC-San Diego does in our community. San Diego has a huge refugee population, and the International Rescue Committee is dedicated to to restore safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure.

(2) the IRC is well-known for integrating youth into their projects and volunteer programs. Can you say, “perfect fit for GiveYourGap?”

(3) We had a lot of friends working for the IRC. That’s where it always starts!

In all seriousness, though, working with all the volunteers at the International Rescue Committee has been an amazing first experience. We can’t thank the IRC enough for their flexibility, willingness to be our first feature and in many ways a guinea pig.

Special thanks to IRC volunteers Jessica Baltmanas, Lara Hamburger, Madison Mclaughlin, staff Mallory Cochrane, and all the farmers at the New Roots Farm and coordinators of the Fresh Fund Program. Stay tuned for a special feature next week on the New Roots Farm!

Thank you IRC for all your help!

This video was produced by Courtney O’Connor.


Volunteer Feature: Cameron Price: Peace Corps, Swaziland

Cameron Price, Peace Corps Swaziland

Name, Age: Cameron P., 26
University: Northern Arizona University
Major: Communications
Type of Work: Medical/Public Health, Education
Region: Africa
Length of stay: 2-3 Years

Tell us about the nonprofit/social business you work for:
I have known that I wanted to apply for the Peace Corps since 2007, and I thought about it hard for several years. It was ultimately a tough decision to come to, as it is a two year commitment, and I would have limited ability to come home. But I made that decision, and spent two years living in rural Swaziland. Those two years were some of the most fulfilling I have ever had, but my third year extension here is proving to give them a run for their money.

I currently am working at Columbia University’s ICAP (International Clinical Support Program) in Mbabane, Swaziland, while donating my free weekends to Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative’s Teen Club Youth Support program. ICAP has been an awesome opportunity for me, and I have seen a lot of Swaziland that I wouldn’t have otherwise. NGOs can be frustrating, but my experience has been great and working on the Clinical and Psychosocial Support programming that we help the Ministry of Health with has been incredibly valuable experience to put under my belt.

To be completely honest though, I stayed for the kids and teens that I have built relationships with at Teen Club. Teen Club is a support group for HIV-positive youth, and currently has something akin to 450 young men and women attending at four different sites. Doing Peace Corps brought me to some of the most beautiful children the world has ever seen, and for that I am so very thankful.

Teen Club:

How did you find your position?
Applied at Sadly this is only available for US Citizens. I do know that there are awesome organizations like Skillshare… GVI… etc.

Parachute games at Camp. I got to be Camp photographer, and it was probably one of the best few weeks of my life. I can’t show pictures of the kid’s faces for legal reasons, but this picture always makes me smile.

What’s your typical day like?
I work at a 730-430 desk job now, and it is only OK because I get to do site visits and love rural Swaziland. Lots of paper work.

My weekends, however, I spend with the kids at Teen Club, and that is where I really love my experience.

What kind of people do you work with?
By day I work with some of the nicest office workers ever. By Night I work with chupacabra (pl). On the weekends I work with the most beautiful kids in the world.

Seriously though, NGOs are all pretty highly educated, socially minded people, and I dig them.

What are your living accommodations? 

I stay in an apartment near the town center, but for two years I lived in a rondavel. A rondavel is, for those of you who don’t know, it is this:

I often times miss my hut. Oh well.Someday I will build my own.

What do you do in your free time? 
Volunteer at Teen Club, hike, travel, read, photography, swimming in Manzini, participate in shenanigans generally.

Share a favorite memory or story from your experience! 
The following is excerpted from my blog, and was written in August 2010:

How do you explain, on paper, the eccentric, erratic, serendipitous events that make life beautiful?

Writers have been trying to do that for thousands of years, so I don’t even want to begin to tackle that challenge. Frankly, I am just too lazy to try. But still, sitting here, I am faced with the task of writing to you lovely people to tell you what I have been up to.

It can be boiled down to a few catch phrases that I sometimes rattle off when you guys call or are on Skype, like: “The usual,” “Studying,” or “I’m awesome, it’s Avocado season.” Or I could relate a few quirks of life here… like the stuff I put on my Facebook status updates; e.g. “A chicken in a bag bit me on a khombi,” “I almost physically ran into the director of NERCHA with an armful of Hoola Hoops while carrying things into his building,” or the ever popular “I have a handlebar moustache.” But that wouldn’t really get anything valuable across… besides the fact that I am awesome at talking without actually saying anything at all. Which I am.

So why don’t I tell you guys a story. A story about Camp. I just got back from camp, you see, and it was truly the highlight of my service so far. I mean that in much the same way that Optimus Prime would say, “Defeating the Decepticons was the highlight of my service so far.” OK, he would probably never say that, but you know what I mean: Camp changed the way I see the world… and here’s how.

We ran the camp for two five-day sessions, with about 100 kids in all. It was sponsored by NERCHA, BIPAI, Young Heroes, and the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps. All of the kids were HIV-positive, were initiated on ARVs, and knew about their statuses. They ranged in age from 10 to 16, the older kids mostly coming in the first week, and they were all g-d-awesome.

The difference between when the kids came in, and when the kids left was breathtaking. It was simply the most amazing thing I have ever seen happened over the course of five days; they metamorphosed into something new completely. When they showed up, nervous, anxious, and probably homesick, they seldom smiled and didn’t know what was in store. I’m pretty sure a few were afraid of me as I was wearing a strange hat… also I have strange, pale skin. Anyways, after five days of games, songs, scavenger hunts, skits, and praise, they’d all been changed. By the time they left, even the shy kids were giving us hugs, high-fiving their new friends, and saying fond farewells to us all.

Cameron with Bunny Ears

But the magic of camp wasn’t just for them. Over the last six months I have been getting used to the idea of everyone now knowing I have a polyplural neuropathy called Charcot Marie Tooth. It’s a hereditary disease passed down from my dad’s side of the family, and will most likely limit my mobility someday. It slowly lessens my body’s ability to conduct electrical impulses to my limbs, and will lead to weakness and possibly chronic pain. I had been aware that I might have it for some time now, but it’s different when it’s on paper. Part of it is knowing that other people know. It’s one thing to feel broken all the time and keep it a secret, it’s another thing entirely for everyone to be on the know with you

Here’s the thing, and it’s something I go back and forth between feeling like an a-hole about and feeling blessed because of. These kids all have a disease that will cost them their lives, most likely in the next few years, and they never should have been exposed in the first place. Just because Swaziland didn’t get (and still sometimes doesn’t have) the medications and professionals to prevent it, these kids and a few thousand more won’t have a shot at being normal kids. I spent my 25th birthday asking myself what the f*ck I did to deserve this disease instead of a case of Pediatric HIV. It was a crap shoot and, even though I spent all this time thinking I was S.O.L., I am so shamefully lucky. I feel like a major cock for writing this down, but those kids fixed me. I think I got more out of camp than they did. Seeing them smile and beat me at soccer games did more for me than they will ever know: They just had a good time at camp… I figured out what I want to do with my life.

I may have a hereditary disease, but that’s OK. I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to make kids like the ones I met at camp smile. I want to make them feel better, because when they feel better, I feel a little less broken inside. Ugh… and I still can’t properly construe what this means to me, probably won’t ever be able to. I want to live every single day like I am still at camp

… guess that’s the most important thing I learned there.

Anyways, seeing kids smile… isn’t it just the most beautiful thing that you have ever seen?

Best Wishes from Swaziland,
Cameron Price
PCV Group 7

Define yo’ terms!

NERCHA – National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS

Young Heroes – An NGO that sponsors AIDS orphans with regards to school fees in SD

BIPAI – Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative. Baylor Pediatric Clinic in Mbabane is amazing. They distribute meds, do testing events, reimburse for travel, and operate Teen Club Support groups in three regions of Swaziland… soon this will expand to all four. Also the Baylor docs are always incredibly cool, quick to give you straight answers, and sometimes even rides in cars. Hats of to you guys. Especially Doug. You deserve a Sivivane Kilo!

Association of Hole in the Wall Camps – Founded by Paul Newman, actor and Philanthropist (RIP), Hole in the Wall operates camps in countries around the world, specifically aimed at giving kids with chronic or terminal diseases a shot at a fun childhood. Their rep was awesome and totally is the reason our camp was a success… thanks Babe Jazz.

What inspired you to do this kind of work? If you are taking a gap year, what motivated you to do that? 
I was born here and – though I still love it – I needed to get the hell out. I have wanderlust, and these roads aren’t going to walk THEMSELVES, now are they? I met a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, heard about her experiences in Nepal, and I knew I had to apply.

Going abroad is the best way to learn about where you are from. I never knew America until I left it and saw it through the eyes of others. I also was fortunate enough to meet some spectacular people along the way.

How are you financing your time?
Peace Corps pays my stipend monthly, and my NGO picks up the costs of housing.

What kind of special skills do you need to do your job?
Language, Medical expertise

Do you feel like you are making a positive, critical impact on the global community? 
Yes. Absolutely. I have made friends for life. No matter how unimportant my filed forms are, I will always have another (Swazi) family.

What have you learned about the nonprofit and social business world in your experience?
That one must be careful of where one donates money; that people can do a lot of good and that the world will work out OK if you put some time into it.

Do you think you make a unique contribution to your organization as a young person? Is your perspective or approach different from others? 
Yes. My 2 years in rural Swaziland allowed me insight into how Swazis live, that town-folk don’t always get. My age makes me relevant with certain things, and have abilities that some older people might not be aware of.

How do you see this experience fitting into your long-term goals?
I spent two years working on HIV projects in Swaziland, the country with the highest HIV prevalence and incidence rates. I want to go to Medical School so I can come back and make sure those numbers go down.

What’s next?
Medical School. Hopefully. And as for volunteering, I will always do it in any way I can.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you came to your position?
You can never be TOO open.

Do you have any advice for prospective gap-givers?
DO IT. If you don’t you will end up asking yourself, “What If?”

Are you blogging about your work or travel? How can we stay in touch?
yes, but you need an invited to read it. PC is strict about what gets published. Email me questions at and I will furnish you with answers ASAP.


Would you be willing to take questions from potential Gappers?