Peace Corps Deputy Director Visits Peru

Olsen visited Peace Corps Volunteers in areas devastated by recent earthquake.

WASHINGTON, DC, February 15, 2008- Peace Corps Deputy Director Josephine K. Olsen visited the South American country of Peru last week, meeting with Peace Corps Volunteers in several areas of the country.

Olsen traveled to the Ica region, which was devastated by an earthquake in August 2007. Peace Corps Response, a branch of the Peace Corps that focuses on quick-impact reconstruction work and assistance, sponsored 32 currently-serving Volunteers in the relief effort. Working in different villages for two weeks each, the Volunteers provided assistance with health and environmental projects in partnership with CARE International, a non-governmental organization.

Peace Corps Volunteers have worked successfully in close collaboration with CARE International to help the Peruvians affected by this disaster, Olsen said. From conducting trainings on sanitary practices to rebuilding schools, these Volunteers are helping to make a difference at a time of tremendous need.

The Peace Corps program in Peru recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. The program, which originally opened in 1962, closed in 1975. Peace Corps returned in 2002, following an invitation from then-Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo to help government agencies and non-governmental organizations to help address Perus development needs.

During her visit, Olsen met with several Volunteers, including Jorge Medrano of San Antonio, Texas, who works with Coprodeli, a faith-based organization, helping to manage a daytime outreach center for youth in the earthquake-affected area, and providing training to the children on hygiene and sanitation. Rachel Karioki from Gulf Shores, Ala., teaches life skills to teenage girls at a youth center, focusing on self-esteem activities and career development.

Among the Volunteers that had short-term assignments in the area was Meredith Dorneker from Forest Park, Ill., who worked with CARE to provide sanitation education, visiting families who have received latrines to ensure that they understand how to install and maintain them.

There are 172 Peace Corps Volunteers currently serving in Peru, in the areas of small business development, health, youth development, and environmental education. Since 1962, over 2,600 Volunteers have served in Peru.

To learn more about Peace Corps/Peru, visit the Where Do Volunteers Go? web page.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Currently there are more than 8,000 Volunteers serving, a 37-year high for Volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served, including Peru. 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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