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PSS Spring '09 - The Houghton House Renaissance

At Home in Malawi

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Martha Pigott '06 proudly tracks the progress of Project Youth Center, a permanent community center in Dzoole, Malawi, where she is serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. Funded by The Brick Foundation, the Center is scheduled to be completed this summer.

When Martha Pigott '06 graduated, she'd already had some incredible experiences - an internship with a congressman, a semester in Switzerland and an invitation to join Phi Beta Kappa. But she had no idea what life had in store for her next - two years in Malawi as a Peace Corps volunteer.

"I didn't know a thing about Malawi when I learned that's where I was going," she says, laughing. "But after some research, I grew more and more excited. I was ready to go and ready for Malawi, so I accepted immediately."

Pigott is currently working in a health clinic in Dzoole, Malawi, recording HIV/ AID S test results, distributing health information, vaccinating children from area villages, giving safe-water demonstrations and checking children for proper weight.

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But Pigott has expanded her role to include development of a local soccer team and youth club as well as fundraising to obtain needed supplies for both, including cleats, balls and uniforms.

"The best part of my experience has been the local boy's soccer team," she says. "The players have won two league trophies since our start in September of last year."

Inspired by her dedication, Pigott's brother founded The Brick Foundation (thebrickfoundation.org) to raise money to fund her projects. The charity was able to send more than $1,000 worth of medical supplies to the clinic in Dzoole, and in late 2008, the siblings began raising funds for Project Youth Center.

Project Youth Center will fund a permanent building to house an HIV/AIDS testing and counseling center, library, office and recreation center. Pigott, with help from local workers, has laid the building's foundation and hopes to see the project completed before her time in Malawi is up.

In July, Pigott will return to the States and plans to attend graduate school, but she knows it won't be easy to leave her new friends.

"When you enter a program like the Peace Corps, home starts to become a place you never even knew existed before," she says.