Accokeek woman brings home lessons from African journey -- Gazette.Net


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Shanta Adeeb of Accokeek majored in science in college, but spent the last two years in Botswana helping expand an art center.

“This is the kind of thing you would expect from Shanta, knowing her personality,” her mother, Bonita Adeeb of Accokeek, said of her “always curious” child. “I’m excited to see what’s next on the horizon.”

Shanta Adeeb, 30, has been volunteering in Botswana, in southern Africa, through the U.S. Peace Corps. She worked at the Kuru Art Center, which was built in 1990 and provides space for artists — many of whom have no formal training — to display their work, said Kelly McCormack, a Peace Corps representative.

“Expanding and renovating the art center will be greatly beneficial to the creative atmosphere and community surrounding the center,” said Adeeb, noting that the displayed art has been exhibited in galleries around the world, sold to private and public collections, and featured in publications. “The center has not only created a sense of unity within the community, but has become a means of income generation in a settlement where 70 percent of people live below the poverty line.”

Adeeb said she enjoyed helping in Botswana, but also learned a lot about health while there, and hopes to educate others when she returns to Accokeek in May.

“People lack basic information about nutrition, and when I walk through the village, I can see people who are suffering from severe malnutrition,” Adeeb said, noting she plans to visit schools, community groups and churches to discuss her observations. “I have learned so much over the last few years and I just want to share it with people from home.”

She said Botswana has “community health promoters” instructed by the country’s Ministry of Health to educate communities on health issues and administer daily treatments to residents.

“Seeing how well this policy works has shown me how important it is for policy to involve and empower individuals from the community they are designed to help,” said Adeeb, who also spent time drafting budgets, writing grants and coordinating exhibits in Botswana.

Currently, 225 Maryland residents are serving as Peace Corps volunteers worldwide, McCormack said.

Adeeb graduated from Tuskegee University in Alabama in 2005 with a double major in food science and nutritional science. She worked as a scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville for nearly six years prior to beginning her Peace Corps service.

“Since I currently work with an art center, people are always surprised to learn that I am a scientist,” she said. “Peace Corps volunteers come from all sectors of American society.”

A 2000 graduate of Suitland High School in Forestville, Adeeb said she has had many mentors and teachers who have given her venues for learning and leadership.

Tara Jones, a teacher at Charles Flowers High School in Springdale, was Adeeb’s television production teacher when she attended the school.

“She had a great work ethic. She was always a no-nonsense, get-the-job-done student,” Jones said. “I think it’s awesome when young people want to make positive contributions and involve themselves in selfless activities.”

djgross@gazette.net