Crisis Corps Sends Volunteers to Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 17, 2003 – Peace Corps’ Crisis Corps recently sent nine volunteers to the African nations of Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia to provide short-term humanitarian assistance in the fields of HIV/AIDS and health and natural disaster relief. Crisis Corps utilizes the strength of returned Peace Corps volunteers for short-term support projects.

In Malawi, four volunteers will address the continued devastation that HIV/AIDS has had on the country and its people. One volunteer will act as a peer education trainer with Partners in Hope in their Action for Behavior Change program, which teaches students responsible behavior. A second volunteer will work as an organizational development officer with Consol Homes Orphan Care, whose mission is to promote community participation in the care of orphans and to promote their social, economic and academic advancement. A third volunteer will be a computer trainer for the Umoyo Network, which develops computer networks for organizations working in HIV/AIDS. And, the fourth volunteer will work as a project management adviser with the Namwera AIDS Coordinating Committee, which assists 43 villages with HIV/AIDS initiatives. Malawi has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. According to the 1999 report of the National AIDS Control Program in Malawi, 16.4% of the 15-49 year age group is HIV positive. It is estimated that there are more than 600,000 children who have lost one or both parents in Malawi, mostly due to AIDS.

As they serve in South Africa, Peace Corps and Crisis Corps volunteers work to promote HIV/AIDS prevention and development of HIV/AIDS prevention programs. The first-ever Crisis Corps volunteer in South Africa will work as a home-based care training volunteer for the Highveld East AIDS Project Support (HEAPS), which assists with HIV initiatives in Govan Mbeki Municipality, its six towns and three major townships. UNAIDS and the World Health Organizations estimate that 20.1% of adults (ages 15-49) are HIV positive in South Africa. In addition 360,000 children and adults are estimated to have died of AIDS in 2001, nearly 1,000 deaths per day.

The four Crisis Corps volunteers who arrived in Zambia will combine their efforts with Harvest Help Zambia. Three of the volunteers will assist in HIV/AIDS endeavors, including one as a business development specialist (helping to promote income generating projects in communities), one as an HIV/AIDS trainer, and one as a health extension trainer. The fourth volunteer will work in the field of water management, as some areas of the region are prone to drought and have been heavily eroded. Harvest Help Zambia is situated on the Lake Kariba area of the Zambezi River, and works in the areas of agriculture, education, health, HIV/AIDS, and civics.

Crisis Corps is an innovative Peace Corps program that utilizes returned Peace Corps volunteers to provide short-term assistance in disaster relief and humanitarian response efforts. The program was established in 1996. The majority of projects run six months in length. To date, more than 500 Crisis Corps volunteers have served in 31 countries.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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