Peace Corps Mourns the Loss of Volunteer John Roberts
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2007 - The Peace Corps is mourning the loss of John D. Roberts, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu. Roberts died as the result of an accident while working at his site on October 11.
A student was cutting branches from a tree at the school where Roberts and other students were cleaning the garden, and when one of the branches fell, it struck Roberts and another member of the community. Tragically, both were killed.
"John was an exemplary Volunteer who had a true heart for service," said Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter. "John's death is a tremendous loss for his family, the Peace Corps, and the People of Vanuatuin particular those in the community where he served.
John served as a Construction and Skilled Trades Education Volunteer in Vanuatu with the Vetumit Rural Training Center, located in a remote village called South River, on the island of Erromango.
John was 24 years old and from Omaha, Nebraska. He was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer on December 8, 2005, and was approximately one month from completion of his service in Vanuatu. John is survived by his parents, Douglas and Rose Roberts, of Omaha, Nebraska.
In his aspiration statement when he joined the Peace Corps, he said: "Why I have volunteered is a question that I do not fully know the answer to. Coming from a stable farming family I was always taught to help my neighbors but I also feel an internal pull to help lend a hand. Somewhere back in my short lifeI made a choice to serve and have been doing so ever since. Instead of a single moment defining my reasons to serve, a whole life time of learning is driving me to volunteer for the Peace Corps."
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, John is credited for helping strengthen South River's transportation, income generation, and communication capabilities. However, John's lasting accomplishments can also be measured by the warmth of human relationships. As one community representative said, "John helped us develop our rural training center and community, but what we will really remember is that he lived with us, ate with us, played with us, grieved with us and rejoiced with ushe was our son."
Since 1961, more than 190,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. In the small island nation of Vanuatu, there are currently 101 Volunteers working primarily to increase access to quality education, particularly in rural areas. Volunteers also focus projects on income generation through business development, food security, sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation and youth development. Since the program's inception in 1990, over 400 Volunteers have served in Vanuatu.
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