Amy Pendleton, director of the Franklin County Perinatal Education Center, does one of her many chores to prepare for her trip to Kyrgyzstan. She is among a group that will tour the country and give presentations related to non-profit organizations. Pendleton leaves today and will return on Sept. 25.
Friday, September 9, 2011
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
Amy Pendleton is set to leave on a journey today, flying out of Roanoke and arriving early Sunday in a country that few may know exists.
Pendleton, director of the Franklin County Perinatal Education Center, is one of a seven-member delegation who will share their expertise in Kyrgyzstan (the Kyrgyz Republic of Central Asia, formerly part of the Soviet Union).
The trip is part of a two-year program related to establishing non-profits, the Kyrgyz Women's Leadership Development, sponsored by Bedford-based Legacy International.
Pendleton will not be a stranger there, however, as she already is acquainted with several residents. Twelve community leaders from Kyrgyzstan toured Franklin County in October 2010 as part of a three-week trip in the region meeting their U.S. professional counterparts in non-profit organization work.
Their visit was also part of the two-year program. While here, that group learned about the perinatal center and also visited the county's public safety building on East Court Street, Franklin County Historical Museum, Child Advocacy Center and the Rocky Mount Municipal Building, where they met with Town Manager James Ervin and Sam Campbell, director of Helping Hands.
Pendleton said she spent a great deal of time with the women who made that trip and will see all of them on her visit to their country.
"It's going to be exciting to see them again, and I've heard they are excited to see us as well," she said. "I have some gifts for them so that's going to be really nice."
Pendleton said she is excited about the trip, but also a little anxious.
"It's a long way away and a long time away," she said. "I just hope things will run okay here while I'm gone."
During her 12-day stay in the Kyrgyz Republic, Pendleton will visit the cities of Bishkek, Osh and Jalalabat. She will give presentations on growing a non-profit, detailing the beginning and growth of the perinatal center and explaining the services offered by the center. Pendleton will also give presentations on raising revenue to meet the ability to accomplish the mission of a non-profit.
"I will give two presentations in each city," she said, adding that she will also tour an orphanage, hospitals and other non-profit organizations. "I've definitely got a full agenda."
Starting and maintaining a non-profit is especially difficult in a country without a long tradition of non-profits, she said. That's one of the reasons Legacy International started this program.
"It's not easy starting a non-profit," Pendleton said. "The country itself is struggling politically and economically. There's still some political unrest and women do not have as many rights or power (as they do here)."
"For them to start a non-profit would be very challenging," she added. "I think that's why they are very interested in how I did it."
While she may be sharing her knowledge and experiences, Pendleton said she will be rewarded as well.
"I really believe that I will learn a lot more from them than they will from me," she said. "I think I will come back with more respect for what we have available to us in this country."
Other members of the delegation include former
Congresswoman Karan English; Shanna Flowers, manager of volunteer services with Carilion Clinic; Johna Campbell, managing partner with Cogent Management Resources; Roger Matthews with Goodwill Industries; Joe Robinson, consultant in global commerce; and Jules Sowder, executive marketing advisor.
Legacy International promotes peace by strengthening civil society and fostering a culture of participation worldwide. The program, including the trip by Pendleton's delegation, is also supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
Kyrgyzstan's primary language is Russian. The country borders Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The country gained full independence from the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991 but has experienced periodic social and political unrest.