Thomas Poeketie (pictured below on the left), the Headmaster of the Elementary School in Masiakriki and founder of the Tio Boto Eco Lodge, would like to send a thanks to “all of Peace Corps and all Americans” via internet. Thomas dictated the following paragraph to Shannon (SUR16 from California who recently completed her two years in Masiakriki) and she translated into English. I thought I would pass along this message to my readers as a great reminder of the reason why J.F.K. launched Peace Corps.
“Tio Boto is one small place in one small country, that many people don’t know about. Yet, Tio Boto sends one BIG thanks to all the people in the USA because they established Peace Corps in America. Because of this, Peace Corps worked in the country of Suriname. The work of Peace Corps Suriname came to help the village of Masiakriki and Tio Boto. The good they did for us we can see. If you come here, you will see it too. We believe we can take the ideas that Peace Corps Volunteers gave us to move forward. We will carry those ideas with us and spread them to others.”
I have had the pleasure of befriending Thomas over several gatherings at his tourist camp, which aims at helping teen dropouts find sustainable skills and work opportunities and doubled as the location for three of our youth development camps. My favorite memory with Thomas was when I started playing guitar one night and within seconds, he was charismatically belting out improvisational lyrics while drumming a beat on a wooden stool. We played well into the night, neither of us wanting the jam session to end.