One Peace Corps Volunteer’s Mission for Health


One Peace Corps Volunteer in Cambodia, Helen Pu, has supported Hesperian in a special way — by field testing a book in progress! Helen is one of the many women and men worldwide who are striving to make Health for All a reality in their communities, and using Hesperian resources to do so:

“As a community health education Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Cambodia, my time is spent trying to spread health knowledge and skills to my community, and helping village volunteers or health center staff to improve their own health education sessions. When I first arrived in my village I used Where There is No Doctor and ended each day reading Helping Health Workers Learn in order to orient myself in my community.

When I first saw the Hesperian website I realized that both books were published by Hesperian.  I also discovered that Hesperian was writing Health Action for Women. The title immediately drew my attention since I had just taught a Girls’ Empowerment and Health class and also completed a Camp GLOW. The class is still the most rewarding and tiring project I’ve done so far. Everyday I met people that didn’t understand why this class mattered at all. When I saw that Hesperian was working toward this purpose I felt inspired to try new methods for getting everyone –boys, girls, men, and women, involved in women’s health and empowerment.

Since the book was not yet available, I sent an email to Hesperian hoping be part of the process and to get a sneak peek. A few weeks later I was reading the family planning chapter with my counterpart from a local NGO called the Women’s Resource Center. We planned a session on basic family planning, types of birth control, and how to choose birth control. What surprised me most during the session was that the women all understood the main message: family planning is about your choice and what you need. Often, it is difficult to get people to look beyond memorizing information, but these activities did just that. At one point in the session, we wanted to teach the women how to use condoms. One woman protested and asked, “Why would I need to learn this? I’m married and I already use an implant!” Before my counterpart could even speak the other women were telling her about how it could prevent STIs and how you can go back and teach the younger girls when they need to know.  Even though the women were still nervous about using condoms they understood why it was important to know all your options and help others make the right choice for them.

Family planning was actually one of the topics least talked about in the villages, but after using Health Action for Women, I saw how empowering it can be for women to understand that family planning is about choice and not just about having fewer children.”

A health volunteer educates about appropriate medicine usage using Hesperian resources

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you probably used (or are using!) the book Where There Is No Doctor. Hesperian Health Guides, the nonprofit writer and publisher of this important health resource, wants to connect with you to pursue a vision of Health for All! Together, we can continue to make a difference in your host community.

Here are some ways you can be involved: