Peace Corps Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Peace Corps Volunteers with disabilities are making a positive impact worldwide

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 2, 2007 - Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter is pleased to announce Peace Corps\' recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year\'s observance theme is "Workers with Disabilities: Talent for a Winning Team!" The theme emphasizes tha fact that Americans with disabilities are a reservoir of ambition, talent, and skill who can and do make great contributions to the workplace.

"As I have traveled around the world meeting Peace Corps Volunteers, I have witnessed those with disabilities making a profound impact on their communities through their service," said Tschetter. "National Disability Employment Awareness Month provides us with an important opportunity to appreciate the contributions that people with disabilities have made throughout our nation\'s history."

Like the rest of the Peace Corps Volunteer community, Volunteers with disabilities, and Volunteers who work with those who have disabilities, are able to bring about lasting positive changes worldwide through their service in education, health, community development, business, and agriculture. Here are a few examples of these exceptional people:

  • Frank Lester, a Deaf Volunteer serving in Kenya, said, "I have good relationships with all fellow Volunteers, which is based on interdependency and being helpful. I would help them with their sign language skill, as well as educate them on deaf issues, and they would assist me with communication access. We all have different strengths to contribute to our projects." Lester and other Volunteers in Kenya have developed a unique Kenyan sign language posters and an interactive CD that allows the user to browse through 3,000 English words and 1,100 Kenyan sign language signs. The poster and CD are being distributed to all schools for the deaf in Kenya.

  • Brooke James is a Volunteer serving in Cameroon as a community health educator. She has been legally blind since the age of 13. Despite this limitation, she has followed her dreams and joined Peace Corps and has not been disappointed. "I\'m here and loving every minute of it," said James.

  • Hanna Baldwin, Peace Corps Country Director of Namibia, walks with crutches since the successful treatment of bone cancer left her without the use of one leg. "After climbing seven temples in Angor Wat and working in countries with virtually no infrastructure, life in Namibia is incredibly easy—complete with handicapped parking," says Baldwin. "It has been enjoyable for me to be working with Volunteers as the Peace Corps Director in Namibia."

  • Megan Monroe, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, has been working with a blind organization in her host community and is currently supporting the group to obtain materials and establish a local school for the blind. "This group has incredible manual abilities," said Monroe. "The group of the blind is formed with the intention to better their lives and provide developmental opportunities for others living with a visual disability."

Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, more than 187,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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