Martha Pigott ’06 is a Peace Corps volunteer working in a health clinic in Dzoole, Malawi. She expanded her role to include the development of a local soccer team and youth club – as well as fundraising to obtain needed supplies for both. Pigott’s youth center dreams were inspired by and grew from smaller acts — playing soccer with local children, organizing a soccer club, and receiving donations of soccer uniforms and other items from Buffalo-area friends, relatives and schools. Recently, her dream was realized as a youth center was opened and a celebration was held in which officials expressed their thanks to Pigott and the many people in the U.S. who helped make the center a reality.
“I can’t begin to tell you how cool this day was! In addition to all the songs, traditional dances, and dramas put on by youth clubs, the senior chief presented me with a gift – a red and blue sash and cap identifying me as a true citizen of Dzoole, an officially inducted member of the community and as much land as I want to build my house on,” Pigott wrote in an e-mail to her mother, published in an article in the Buffalo News.
While at William Smith, Pigott majored in public policy and earned a minor in Spanish and writing. She became a writing colleague and Spanish tutor, played on the girls’ club ice hockey team and performed in the Koshare Dance Collective. She also participated in the Washington D.C. internship program and interned for a congressman in the fall of 2004. In the spring of 2006, she also studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland where she interned for an Intellectual Property Watch Publication.
The full article about the opening of the youth center follows.
The Buffalo News
Martha’s dream: Malawi village gets its youth center
NeXt • June 2, 2009
Peace Corps volunteer Martha Pigott saw a dream come true Friday when a celebration was held in Dzoole, Malawi, for the opening of the Dzoole Youth Center. Martha is the daughter of Peggy and Eugene Pigott of Grand Island and a graduate of Nardin Academy and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Her Peace Corps work in Malawi was featured in a December story in NeXt titled “Dreams for Dzoole.” Donations to the Peace Corps and the Brick Foundation, set up by Martha and her brother, David, totaled $15,000, and the village contributed the equivalent of about $5,000 through village builders who transported supplies and made furniture, reports her mother, Peggy Pigott. In an e-mail from Dzoole, Martha Pigott reports she was writing from “the office of the newly constructed and completed Dzoole Youth Center. ,”Five months ago, there was nothing but dirt and some accumulating bricks in that very spot … now I was sitting at a desk in the office, the library to my right where about 12 kids were reading and the entertainment room next to them, where a number of other young people were watching TV.”
” It was incredibly heart-warming and at the same time, a bit funny as I thought back to the NeXt article titled ,‘Dreams for Dzoole….one day a youth center’ before we’d even broken ground on the place,” she wrote. “It’s really true – this building has been a vision for Dzoole less than year into my service and now as it comes to an end, it’s a vision we’ve seen materialize – a real dream come true. That’s something I’m surely proud of, but more importantly, all of you who helped should be extremely proud of. There are no words to fully thank you.”
Pigott said the official opening of the youth center was held Friday with great ceremony. She said the district representative for the Dzoole area Malawi’s chief youth development officer were among the hundreds who attended the celebration and expressed their thanks to people in the U.S. who donated money.
She writes: “I can’t begin to tell you how cool this day was! In addition to all the songs, traditional dances, and dramas put on by youth clubs, the senior chief presented me with a gift – a red and blue sash and cap identifying me as a true citizen of Dzoole, an officially inducted member of the community and as much land as I want to build my house on.” Martha, who is due to return home in July, says she got teary-eyed at their generosity but “I told them I’d have to get back to them about that house!” (She recovered from a bout of malaria in April after forgetting to take her anti-malaria pills.)
After the ceremonies, an office was opened for HIV testing and the first 20 to be tested were given T-shirts, “part of a large donation sent by Connor Siweck, a Canisius High School student, with the help of the Delaware Soccer League in Buffalo,” Martha wrote. Pigott added that the Delaware Soccer League “sent so much stuff, I was able to outfit the boys and girls teams of my youth club, the boys and girls teams of both the secondary and primary schools, these volunteer testing T-shirts, and I’ve still got more! I’m starting to think they’ll rename the village ‘Delaware’ with the amount of times I pass their shirts in a day!” Pigott will return home in July after a busy June that includes a visit from high school students from the U.S. and a youth soccer camp.