Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Project HOPE Volunteer

As some of our Project HOPE readers know we don't just recruit medical volunteers for our missions. We often try to have a volunteer communications/public relations volunteer to serve as our Public Affairs Officer (PAO) on board too so they can provide us with images, stories and capture the moments on these missions. Below is a blog entry from our newest PAO John Bobosh. He will be aboard the Kearsarge as it works in Guyana.

Happy Reading!



Allow me to introduce myself. My name is John Bobosh, and I’m the communications liaison for Project HOPE’s current mission in Guyana. Over the next two weeks I’ll do my best to relate to you what I’ve seen and share stories from the various members of our medical staff. My goal is to provide insight into Project HOPE’s operations in other countries and maybe even inspire some of you to volunteer or donate to this wonderful cause. While I attempt to do this, I’m also going to try to fill you in on Guyana’s history and current situation so you all have a better understanding as to why organizations like Project HOPE are needed around of the world.

Current location: My apartment, Washington, DC.

I just wrapped up a two year stint in the Johns Hopkins University Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. I went in angry (at the price of a credit hour) and came out a lean, mean communication master ready to ruin anyone’s poorly conceived public relations strategy. I currently work for a public relations firm in the District, as the locals call it.

Like any good student, I did a little research on my destination. Guyana passed through the hands of several sovereign nations throughout its history. First the colonized by Dutch in the 1500s, it eventually became apart of the British Empire before receiving its autonomy in 1966. Because of this chronology of imperialism in Guyana, it is the only South American country that speaks English as its primary language. What luck I’m in, because it is my first and, despite my Spanish teachers’ best efforts, only language. It seems most of the Guyanese people also speak a form of Creole. I’ve read up on Guyanese Creole and it seems like I should be able to pick up a lot of what the locals are saying – in theory anyway. In practice, I’ll likely have to ask everyone to repeat themselves three times. I’ll figure out if I’m a capable linguist on my arrival.

To this day it remains part of the Commonwealth of Nations, a group of former British colonies that adhere to a common standard of civil liberties. Because of its history, the demographic makeup of the country is quite diverse. Approximately 43% of the population is of Indian decent (as in from the country India), 30% come from the African Diaspora, followed by people indigenous to the region (20%), and finally a very tiny percentage (less than 1%) of are Chinese or Caucasian. In short, people in Guyana descend from all parts of the globe.

I also looked at other census information. According to the CIA’s World Fact book, Less than 800,000 people live in the country. The infant mortality rate in Guyana is approximately 30 deaths for ever 1,000 live births. To put this in perspective, it is five times higher than in the United States of America – meaning that medical standards are not considered the most modern. The gross domestic production totals something near $1 billion US, mostly from the mining of minerals and precious stones, a fraction of a percent compared to America’s $14 trillion. While the average family income is less than $3000, literacy in the country is very high, at 99% literate.

After reading all these, my mind is at ease. The country itself seems rather peaceful and pro America (something you have to worry about these days). I’m still a little apprehensive about living on a Navy cruiser for a couple weeks, but I figure it will be an experience I wouldn’t have otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. You are well on your way J-Bo! We are all proud of you and the work you are doing for Project Hope! Keep the entries coming! -- Kim V.