Morocco Welcomes New Peace Corps Volunteers to Work in Health and Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 3, 2004 – A group of new Peace Corps volunteers officially began their service on Thursday, May 20 in Morocco. The swearing-in of this second group marks the successful re-entry of the Peace Corps into Morocco.

United States Ambassador to Morocco Thomas T. Riley attended the ceremony and addressed the volunteers and their host families. Morocco’s Peace Corps Director Bruce J. Cohen presided over the ceremony and expressed his appreciation for the support of Ouarzazate’s Governor, Ahmed Merghich, who also participated in the event.

The new Peace Corps volunteers have completed 11 weeks of intensive training in the Berber language dialects of Tashelhit and Tamazight, in Arabic, and in cross-cultural communications skills. They also received technical training. These new volunteers will work for two years in the sectors of health and environment in predominantly rural Moroccan communities.

In the health sector, the volunteers’ objective will be to increase sanitation and safe water supplies in rural areas. Environmental volunteers are stationed in Morocco’s national parks and ecological reserves with the dual goal of making these areas user-friendly for eco-tourism while increasing environmental awareness among local community members. A second group of volunteers, who will work in the areas of youth development and small business development, will arrive for training in Morocco this fall.

Volunteers reentered Morocco earlier this year based on the successful 42-year history of the program as well as the Moroccan people and government’s strong support of the Peace Corps in the country. Morocco is one of five predominately Muslim countries that the Peace Corps either entered or reentered since 2003. Currently, 20 percent of Peace Corps volunteers serve in predominately Muslim countries.

Since 1962, more than 4,000 Peace Corps volunteers have worked in Morocco in education, environment, health, and small business development. Volunteers in Morocco have completed projects ranging from designing English curricula to working with artisan groups on income generating projects to helping address water quality and sanitation concerns.

Since 1961, more than 171,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, 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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