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Peace Corps volunteer from Dedham building a library in Togo

Posted by Michele Morgan Bolton  September 14, 2011 10:30 AM

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Emily Jones.JPGEmily building.JPG

The Republic of Togo might not have been at the forefront of Emily Jones’s mind while she was a member of the Dedham High School Class of 2004, but today, as a Peace Corps volunteer, the 25-year-old is on a two-year mission in the West African country.

The daughter of Susan Jones and the late Randolph Jones is working through the 50-year-old international volunteer organization to build a library of books and research documents in French, English, and other local languages.

Her project is funded through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which raises money for Peace Corps volunteer community projects.

"Although our village has five elementary schools, a middle school and a growing high school, there is no library access for community members, and students must learn by copying notes from the blackboard,” said Jones, a girls’ education and empowerment volunteer who majored in geography at Dartmouth College before departing her service.

"Villagers have already donated a building and wood for the rafters and furniture, and we plan to use volunteer labor for the construction,’’ she said..”Once we’ve opened the facility, library card dues and income from cellphone-charging at the solar panel will pay for operating expenses and new books.’’

More than 2,630 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Togo since the program was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Currently, 117 volunteers are serving in the country that borders Ghana.

Back home, service to others seems to run in the Jones family.

Jones’s brother, Randy Jones, 27, talked about his stint with the Peace Corps in Paraguay in 2006 and 2007 where he worked with farmers to boost agricultural efforts through the development of a model farm.

“It was interesting and overwhelming at the same time,’’ he said. “As they say, ‘it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.’‘’

Jones described his sister as hard-working and someone who puts her all into everything she does to help people think about things in different ways.

Emily Jones is committed to her work in Togo until November 2012.

In order to receive needed funding, a community must make a 25-percent contribution to the total project cost and outline success indicators for the individual projects, said Peace Corps spokeswoman Elizabeth Chamberlain.

“This helps ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability,’’ she said.

One hundred percent of each tax-deductible donation goes toward a development project. Those interested in supporting Jones’s library renovation in Togo can go to http://www.peacecorps.gov/contribute and note project number 693-381.

Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at michelebolton@live.com.

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