Maria del Carmen Moreno’s Service in Mauritania and Mali
Years of Service: 1989-1992
Maria del Carmen Moreno served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania and Mali from 1989 to 1992. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York, Moreno declined her first invitation to join the Peace Corps as an English teacher in Costa Rica. A few years later, after earning a master’s degree, she applied again and requested a placement in Francophone Africa. This time she accepted the invitation to serve in an agricultural program in Mauritania.
Her training began with agricultural skills in Frogmore, South Carolina, and continued in Mauritania where she learned French and Arabic. Moreno’s initial assignment was to encourage vegetable gardening in a remote desert hamlet, 13 hours from the capital city. However, her Arabic-speaking host family did not believe that women should undertake agricultural work.
After several months, Moreno moved to the nearest town and found satisfying work teaching children about agriculture. However, in January 1991, Saddam Hussein sent his family to shelter in Mauritania, causing the Peace Corps Volunteers to be evacuated to Mali. Instead of terminating, Moreno decided to continue her service in Gao, Mali. A few months later, amid unrest and active gunfire in her town, she was evacuated again, to the city of Bamako. Upon conclusion of her service, Moreno was hired by Peace Corps to train new volunteers in both Mali and Mauritania.
Use the following link to listen to her Oral History Interview (3 digital audio files (web streaming files combined into 1 file)), interviewed and recorded by Phyllis Noble, May 1, 2016. https://www.jfklibrary.org/asset-viewer/archives/RPCV/BD2016/RPCV-ACC-2016-030/RPCV-ACC-2016-030