From the Amazon to Akron . . . what does that mean?
Evan Delahanty, our founder, was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Suriname (South America) from 2011-2013 - but the connection to the people and other volunteers never really goes away. In fact, Evan is actually traveling to Peace Corps Connect in Denver next month to present about social enterprise and Peace Corps volunteers - stay tuned for more on that!
But what is Peace Corps all about? Hippies, birkenstocks, and granola? The velvet glove of American expansionism?
Let’s start with the history of the Peace Corps and see what they’re actually all about.
A bite into history
56 years ago, President John F Kennedy had a radical idea. Inspired by the Point Four Youth Corps, which was a similar initiative arranged by Representative Henry Reuss of Wisconsin in the late 1950s, JFK decided to add this concept of service work to his presidential campaign. The idea caught on quickly and, in the first public speech on the topic - in front of 10,000 University of Michigan students, awake and waiting for him at 2:00 am - here’s what President Kennedy had to say:
Elected as president a month later, JFK appealed to Americans asking them not to change the countries they traveled to or convert their way of life, but to strengthen the communities that already existed and provide them with the tools necessary to live up to their fullest potential. Volunteers started in 12 countries in 1961. After just 6 years, there were 14,500 volunteers in 55 countries!
So doing good is great, but what exactly is the point of Peace Corps?
To promote unity and benevolence throughout the whole world, the Peace Corps has a three pronged mission:
1.) To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained
men and woman; this is anything from teaching sustainable agriculture, to health
topics like nutrition and water sanitation, or to community economic
Development - which was Evan’s focus.
2.) To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the
peoples served . . .
3.) To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of
Americans: With the goal of attaining world peace, it’s important to teach people
about our similarities and recognize our differences. Neither one or the other is
good or bad, the Peace Corps simply wants to teach and maintain mutual
Here’s a look into an education project that is currently an initiative of the Peace Corps:
What was one of Evan’s projects?
Evan worked in Suriname as a Community Economic Specialist. That means, among other things, he helped teach entrepreneurship and business management to interested locals - giving them the tools to lift themselves up so they would no longer have to depend on anyone else. Unsurprisingly, this mission is echoed at Peaceful Fruits, where we aim to provide a healthy snack that is sustainable at every step of the way for the environment and for people who need to make a living.
Peaceful Fruits isn’t about giving anyone handouts. We create full wage jobs - whether it’s harvesting the wild fruit in our snacks or actually making our snacks, by hand, here in Akron. The goal is for everyone who works with Peaceful Fruits to be able to better themselves and their community.
In true Peace Corps style, Evan’s journey didn’t end when he got back from Suriname, it had only begun.
Fulfilling the mission of the Peace Corps in our day to day
Not everyone can pick up and move to some far away country, but there are many ways to support the Peace Corps and its mission. One is to spend your money on products that align with that mission - like Madecasse (chocolate) or Kuli Kuli (meal bars and learn more about moringa here). Or Peaceful Fruits of course!
You also support the mission every time you stop to think about the wider world out there, and everyone’s small, unique place in it.
Thanks for reading and have a great day out there!
Bonus! Did you know that Netflix was started by a returned Peace Corps volunteer? That helps explain the content a lot.