Peace Corps Celebrates Anniversary and Arrival of New Volunteers in East Timor

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 31, 2003 – Celebrating the one-year anniversary this month of its program in East Timor, the Peace Corps continues to build on its commitment to the Pacific nation. Recently, on July 4, 2003, U.S. Ambassador to East Timor, Grover Joseph Rees, swore-in 18 new Peace Corps volunteers at a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Dili.

Last year, the Peace Corps re-located 19 third-year extension volunteers, who were finishing their service in various countries throughout the world, to East Timor. These experienced volunteers helped establish the Peace Corps program in the Pacific nation.

The newly sworn-in volunteers will serve a full, two-year commitment in East Timor, working in community health education and local governance promotion, which includes a Habitat for Humanity project. Half of the 18 new volunteers will continue the work started a year ago.

East Timor’s Minister of Health, Dr. Rui Maria de Araujo, spoke at the July 4 ceremony and praised the volunteers for their outstanding contributions. Two of the new volunteers also spoke at the ceremony, with one addressing the crowd in East Timor’s indigenous language, Tetum.

East Timor gained independence from Indonesia in 2002, when more than 78% of its citizens voted in favor of separating the two nations. Peace Corps is one of the few development agencies in East Timor that has assigned volunteers to rural areas in order to work with the townspeople on beneficial, long-term community projects.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 Volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, 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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