Monthly Archives: September 2015

Peace Corps update

American Peace Corps staff are immune to prosecution for crimes committed against Albanians.  Peace Corps employee policy allows American staffers to resign when faced with charges or termination for misconduct. An American staffer will be prosecuted if they assault American staff, American volunteers or Albanian Peace Corps staff.  There is no consequence for crimes against Albanians.

In August, Peace Corps investigated and confirmed that Earl Wall, country director Peace Corps Albania had stalked, harassed and assaulted at least two Albanian women.  Rather than faces criminal charges, he resigned and left Albania September 5.  His employee file is sealed by the Privacy Act, no further information is available.

Kristin Besch, Chief of Operations Peace Corps, came to Albania this past week to meet with volunteers.  She confirmed the Peace Corps employee policy allowing American staff to resign in lieu of termination or misconduct charges.  Volunteers asked if an American staffer would ever be prosecuted for a crime against an Albanian, murder for example.  She said they would always be allowed to resign and leave per policy.  When volunteers asked what recourse an Albanian would have, they were told that the victims should report to the Office of Investigator General (OIG) in Washington.  This is laughable.  How would an Albanian even know how to contact Peace Corps let alone the OIG within Peace Corps?  Albanian victims have no recourse against American Peace Corps who commit crimes against them, per Peace Corps employee policy.

On August 7 I filed the initial report of Earl Wall’s assaults on Albanian women.  On September 3, I learned that Earl had been allowed to resign and I went to my Peace Corps community with the truth.  Peace Corps fired me September 13 because I failed to properly complete paperwork for a leave request.  I am staying in Albania as an independent volunteer, honoring my commitment to the Albanian people by continuing to work with girl empowerment programs.

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Peace Corps cover up (part 2)

I am quoted here.  GLOW Tirana was the first Let Girls Learn project.                                         Peace Corps loves me when I behave like a proper lady, quiet and subservient.

Peace Corps Celebrates 20 Years of Promoting Gender Equality through Camp GLOW

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 26, 2015 – Today, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet joins volunteers and staff around the world in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), a program created by three Peace Corps volunteers in Romania that has grown to become the agency’s most widespread gender empowerment initiative. For the past two decades, volunteers worldwide have empowered tens of thousands of children and young adults through Camp GLOW programs that encourage self-confidence, challenge campers to think beyond traditional gender roles, and address the unique societal and health issues girls and women face.

“I am so proud of the work Peace Corps volunteers do to promote gender equality, self-confidence and leadership in youth through programs like Camp GLOW,” Director Hessler-Radelet said. “Educating girls is a priority for the agency and we continue to expand our impact through innovative collaborations likeLet Girls Learn and the hard work of our volunteers.”

In August 1995, Peace Corps volunteers Sara Goodkind, Jennifer Bobb Petramale, Roz Edison and four Romanian teachers took 80 teenaged girls to a mountain campsite for a week-long leadership camp. The purpose of the camp was to encourage the girls to become active citizens by building their self-esteem and confidence, increasing their self-awareness, and developing their skills in goal-setting, assertiveness, and career and life planning. Thus, Camp GLOW was born. Since then, volunteers around the world have held GLOW camps in their own communities and have even created youth camps based off of the GLOW model, like Camp BRO (Boys Respecting Others) and STOMP (Supporting Teamwork Opening Minds Positively).

“I don’t think we ever imagined Camp GLOW would become so widespread,” said co-founder Sara Goodkind, now an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work who specializes in women’s studies. “I’m not sure we envisioned a future for it beyond a one-time camp designed to promote girls’ leadership in Romania. But after the first camp, we realized what a meaningful and important experience it was for all of us and recognized that it would be worth continuing and sharing with others.”

Twenty years later the camp model continues to thrive. The first Camp GLOW to be funded through Let Girls Learn – a powerful collaboration between First Lady Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps to promote girls’ education – took place earlier this summer in Albania and was met with great success. During the camp, Peace Corps volunteer Bonnie Scott worked with local Albanian community members to lead educational and fun activities focused on cultural exchange, individuality and leadership for 60 campers.

“We highlighted topics that Albanian girls don’t often learn about,” said Scott, a native of Seattle who has been living in Albania since 2014. “The money raised through Let Girls Learn allowed us to hold the camp and will provide for the continued training of camp facilitators, ensuring community sustainability.”

Peace Corps cover up

Earl Wall, former Peace Corps country director Albania, was allowed to resign rather than face criminal charges for sexual assault.  Albanian women had been reporting that Earl had stalked them, sexually assaulted them and then continued to harass them via phone messages until they changed their numbers.  The victims conveyed this to the US Embassy August 7.  Peace Corps investigated and confirmed the allegations using Earl’s phone records.   Faced with criminal and misconduct charges, Earl was allowed to resign claiming family issues.  He left country August 29.  Earl can now go on to a new job in a different country and find other victims.

Peace Corps refuses to discuss the matter because Earl’s resignation was for personal reasons.  They are pressuring volunteers to be silent.  They are retaliating against the whistle blower for reporting.  I was the initial contact for the victims.  I am the whistle blower.  The current country director, Cale Wagner intends to administratively separate me claiming I failed to complete a proper leave request, that I am a disciplinary problem.  he could not produce any documentation of me being a problem.    Another PCV also made a mistake in her leave form, she was merely reprimanded.

Earl Wall, accused of multiple sexual assaults on young women, has been allowed to leave Albania and go on to a new assignment somewhere else.  This is the real issue.  The attack on me is just a distraction.

I am so disappointed in Peace Corps.  We work here for girls’ empowerment, telling them they should speak up against wrongs.  We work against corruption and for transparency and open government.   Yet our own organization is covering up criminal behavior and retaliating against those that speak out.

Butterfly data

This was just a flicker happening across a meadow when I waled up to find this beautiful butterfly struggling in a spider’s web.  The spider is just above and a fraction of the size of the butterfly.  We took loads of pictures and this is the best.  Catherine sent it to the expert asking if either critter was important.  Turns out the butterfly is a critically endangered species called and Apollo.  Its presence will help the area qualify for protection.  Plus it is a beautiful creature.

(Though I do wonder if the Apollo is not endangered because of human impact but rather it’s in ability to avoid spider webs.  This one lost its battle here but the spider ate well.)

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More of Valbona National Park (?).

National Park designation does allow local to live within the park boundaries.  There are actually 4 -12 different zoning definitions regarding protected areas. (Various number based on various guides).  However, in every case, and every resource stresses the need to confer with locals are zoning will be irrelevant.  If you do not have local commitment, not just tolerance but real investment in the idea, then zoning will not work.

The zoning map for the National Park of Valbona that is currently under consideration was lifted from a habitat map made under communism, so at least 30 years ago.  Hoxha tightly controlled logging, farming and grazing.  When communism fell so did all those regulations and the mountains look very different today.  More importantly, the NGO that created these zoning maps never talked to local farmers, shepherds or cow herders.  In fact, they only once even came to Valbona.  They ate lunch took some pictures of themselves and claimed they had done their research.  Catherine has called this out and is doing the actual work to show why it matters.

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Notice the bucket of snow? This is September 2. The snow is from their cave where they store now and use it all summer. Also, note the AK47 in the background

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Sheep, sheep sheep

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Photographing what we hope are endangered flora.

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Ram’s 250 sheep support 30 family members.

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Ram’s home June-September. October – May he rents a place in Kosovo. This is the only place he actually calls home, as does his entire family.

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CAtherine is being great about putting lots of sunblock on her bear scar, left chin.

Catherine had a run in with a bear in early June.  She is mending well but has quite a scar.  Every visit begins with her being introduced as “the Amerikan who gotten eaten by a bear.  She is here to tell us what it is like”  On one of these hikes we had to cross a steep ravine.  Catherine carefully navigated around it.  I sort of slipped and slid down more than hiked.  I left part of my pants and part of my thigh on the slope.  I have a “clawed” thigh and we joked that I could now be the “Amerikan who got eaten by a lynx”

We are doing these trips as day hikes, thinking that lighter and longer with a rest day inbetween would be best.  It was because that snow from th snow cave, or the water offered at every stan caught up with me.  I have a new understanding for food poisoning and am glad I did not have to recover in a tent.