Zola Collins

Zola Collins

Zola Collins

Tell us briefly about your work.

I came in with the most recent health cohort, so my first goals in my community have been to learn the local language, the ins and outs of Senegalese culture, and integrate into my community. During my Peace Corps service, I aspire to do work in malaria as well as in maternal and childhood health. These health issues affect almost every person in my village, and take a large toll on them from missed work and school days.

Ultimately, as Peace Corps volunteers, we aim to work alongside our community to address these issues and empower them to take control of the work so that it will be sustainable long after our services are over.

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What is your community like?

My community, Bandafassi, is a village of about 1,100 people located 15 kilometers from the city of Kedougou. Bandafassi may seem like a quiet village at first glance, but I quickly learned that it is a lively and progressive community. It seems like there is a celebration, wedding, or baby naming ceremony every other week! My village is unique in that two ethnic groups, the Pulaars and the Bediks, have lived together harmoniously for more than 100 years. The Pulaars are Muslim and the Bediks are Christian, and they understand the importance of honoring and even celebrating each others’ holidays and holy days. It has been inspiring to live among people who practice peace in this way.

To you, what does it mean to live?

To me, to live is not only to have your basic needs met, but to also have the opportunity to seek and find good health and happiness.

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