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A Service Group Built on 'Friendship'

An American organization called Amizade (friendship in Portuguese) places students and other volunteers in projects in several countries. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

Amizade means friendship in Portuguese. It is also the name of a service organization in the United States that places volunteers in projects mostly in developing countries. Amizade's executive director, Eric Hartman, thought of the idea in Brazil in nineteen ninety-four, which explains the Portuguese name.

The Amizade Global Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs placed three hundred volunteers in nine countries last year. These American university students and others worked in thirteen communities.

Amizade works with local groups and individuals on service and learning projects. The local groups define and direct the projects. The volunteers learn about local culture and make friends as they work in the community.

Amizade charges college students as much as ten thousand dollars for three months of experience.

Volunteers generally provide labor and do things like teach and assist at local health centers. They can also do research. College students can earn work-study credits.

Participants in programs have included a twelve-year-old boy and a man in his eighties.

There are programs in Ghana, Tanzania, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico and Jamaica. There are also programs in Germany, Poland, Northern Ireland and the United States.

Recently, in Tanzania, thirteen Amizade volunteers worked on systems to harvest rainwater from the roofs of homes. They worked on the project in the Karagwe area, in the northwestern part of the country. Eric Hartman, the director, described the water collection systems in blog postings from Tanzania earlier this month.

Rain falls on the metal roofs and flows into aluminum gutters. These gutters carry the water to a large collection tank on the side of the home.

The rain harvesting systems mean that a family member no longer has to walk long distances to get water. So there is more time for farming or schoolwork. The systems are especially useful for those who are too sick to go a long way for water.

In the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica, Amizade places volunteers with a local partner in the small community of Petersfield. The volunteers live with local families. They help children with schoolwork and computer skills. They also visit the sick and work on building, painting and other restoration projects in the community.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Steve Ember.