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Peace Corps Volunteer Organizes Leadership Camp for the Deaf in Ghana

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 27, 2012 – Peace Corps volunteer Lauren Corke of Acton, Mass. is working with her Ghanaian community to establish a leadership camp for deaf youth in the northeastern region of Ghana. The camp will run from July 29 to August 3, and host 28 deaf students and seven teachers from around the country. A portion of the funds for the project were raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), a program that helps support Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide.

“Despite having a relatively large population of deaf in Ghana, there is still very little awareness about deaf culture and extremely high levels of stigmatization," said Corke, who has been working in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer art teacher since 2011. "The deaf experience isolation and discrimination in their communities and even their own families.”

The camp will offer sessions in goal-setting, confidence-building, and leadership skills. Several guest speakers will also visit the camp to speak about international Deaf communities, and opportunities for the deaf in Ghana. Corke hopes that the camp will allow students and teachers from around the country to meet each other and create network to advocate for the deaf community. Students will create ‘DeafPride’ clubs in their local schools to inspire and empower their classmates.

“We hope to instill a sense of pride in the deaf in Ghana, which will motivate them to further pursue their goals and take a spotlight in their communities instead of being shunned," said Corke, a Colby College graduate. "The hope is that the camp will serve as a spark to ignite leaders in key schools throughout the country.”

Funds raised through the PCPP will go toward travel costs, food, and camp session materials, while the host school has agreed to donate its facilities for the week-long camp and the teachers have agreed to work as unpaid volunteers. In order to receive funding through the PCPP, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost and outline success indicators for the individual projects. This helps ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability. One hundred percent of each tax-deductible PCPP donation goes toward a development project.

About Peace Corps/Ghana: More than 4,190 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Ghana since the program was established in 1961. Ghana was the first country in the world to receive Peace Corps Volunteers. Currently, 143 volunteers serve in Ghana. Volunteers work in the areas of education, environment, agriculture and health. Volunteers are trained and work in the following languages: Buli, Dagaare, Dagbani, Dangme, Ewe, Fanté, Ga, Ghanaian Sign Language, Gonja, Guruni, Hausa, Kasem, Kusaal, Likipakpaalu, Likpakpaln, Mampruli, Nzema, Sisaali, Taleni, Twi and Waale.

About the Peace Corps: Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 200,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 9,095 volunteers are working with local communities in 75 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 and the agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.

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