First Lady Michelle Obama Meets with Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa
Pretoria, South Africa
On June 22, the First Lady participated in the U.S.- sponsored Young African Women Leaders Forum. Forum participants included young women from across sub-Saharan Africa who are leading social and economic initiatives in their own countries. Two Peace Corps volunteers, who work on community HIV/AIDS projects in South Africa, attended the First Ladys Forum in the Soweto township. They participated in community service projects at the event as well as breakout discussions focusing on the importance of young people serving in their local communities.
On June 24, the First Lady met with Peter Butzen of Hoffman Estates, Ill., a third year Peace Corps volunteer working at the Botswana Baylor Childrens Clinic Center for Excellences Teen Club developing young peoples leadership skills and encouraging them to teach others about HIV/AIDS prevention. Peace Corps volunteers first started working with the clinic in 2005 and have been instrumental in running monthly Teen Club meetings throughout the country.
The First Lady also hosted a lunch honoring girls from Botswana who are overcoming the barriers to success in their own lives. Third year Peace Corps volunteer Jillian Pintye, of Tuckerton, N.J., attended the event with several local girls from a GLOW Club (Girls Leading Our World). Camp GLOW is a Peace Corps program that empowers young women by promoting self confidence, challenging young women and girls to think beyond traditional gender roles, and addressing the unique societal and health issues that young women face in their communities.
On June 25, 50 Peace Corps volunteers attended a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Botswana Michelle Gavin for the First Lady to meet U.S. Embassy employees and their families.
About Peace Corps/South Africa: More than 1000 Americans have served as Peace Corps Volunteers in South Africa since 1997 and there are over 150 Volunteers serving in South Africa today. Volunteers work with counterparts in rural primary schools and civil service organizations that are dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS.
About Peace Corps/Botswana: More than 2,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Botswana since the program was established in 1966 and 100 volunteers are serving in Botswana today. After a six year absence, Peace Corps reopened its program in 2003 with a focus on HIV/AIDS projects, incorporating youth development, health, and education sectors. Many volunteers working on HIV/AIDS prevention and are supported by the U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. Volunteers are trained and work in Setswana.
About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.