The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 4, 2007

Enid woman spends 3 years in Africa with Peace Corps

Casie Valtr has seen the world in a way most of us never will — or want to.

Valtr, of Enid, was a Peace Corps volunteer beginning in 2003 for nearly three years in the village of Doultcha, Niger, located in western Africa. Valtr’s original term was two years, plus three months of training, during which she learned the language and studied health care.

Valtr has a master’s degree in international studies from Oklahoma State University. Most people with international studies degrees work for United Nations, World Bank or International Monetary Fund, she said.

Valtr, though, lived in a one-room mud hut and slept outside because of the heat. She was provided with a table-top heating plate and a water purifier by Peace Corps. Otherwise, she bathed with water from a bucket, and her bathroom was a hole in the ground.

“You train in health and language, then go into the village and do what you can,” she said.

She was community health volunteer in her village. Most youths in Niger are malnourished, so she began tracking height and weight balances of the children, while educating their families on nutrition. There was no hospital in the village, and malnourishment was rampant.

One of her accomplishments was obtaining funding for a health clinic. The village provided part of the money and provided an ox cart for emergency transportation. Valtr obtained medicine and supplies for the clinic. She trained villagers to be involved in the clinic operation and to assist the government health nurse who came to work in the clinic. A local committee oversaw the medicine replenishment fund, which the nurse used when supplies were needed.

“People came to the clinic expecting me to be able to cure anything because I am white, and they think I have medicines to cure anything, even cancer,” she said.

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