FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, December 5, 2000
Peace Corps Celebrates Volunteerism and Achievements of Peace Corps Volunteers; Australia, Canada and U.K. Volunteer Organizations Join the Peace Corps in their Commitment to Expand HIV/AIDS Education
Washington, D.C., December 5, 2000 - On International Volunteer Day 2000, Peace Corps Director Mark Schneider saluted currently serving volunteers and the 161,000 Americans who have served in the Peace Corps in 134 countries since 1961.
"Today, as we celebrate the spirit of volunteerism, I would like to recognize the achievements of Peace Corps volunteers who have made, and continue to make, a significant contribution to the cause of peace and progress around the world," said Schneider.
In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly declared December 5 as "International Volunteer Day" to honor the accomplishments of volunteers and volunteer organizations.
On the occasion of International Volunteer Day, which also formally launches a year-long celebration of volunteerism sponsored by the United Nations, Schneider announced the commitment of international volunteer organizations to join the Peace Corps\' efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. "I am pleased to announce that the leaders of international volunteers organizations in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia have joined the Peace Corps in a unified pledge to expand HIV/AIDS prevention education efforts throughout the world," added Schneider.
Australian Volunteers International, Canada World Youth, United Nations Volunteers and the United Kingdom\'s Voluntary Services Overseas joined the Peace Corps in "a call to action" and agreed to an intensive effort to meet the enormous challenge of halting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Some of the action areas include training volunteers in HIV/AIDS prevention, building capacity in communities, raising awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS and increasing access to treatments.
HIV/AIDS already has cost the lives of 21.8 million children and adults, and another 36 million people are infected around the world, 25 million of whom are in Africa, according to UNAIDS. That devastating impact is threatening the well being of communities and the development prospects of an entire region. The Peace Corps launched a special initiative this year to retrain all 2,400 volunteers serving in Africa to become HIV/AIDS prevention educators.
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