Peace Corps Director Assesses Need in Southeast Asia

January 31, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 31, 2005 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez visited Southeast Asia last week to evaluate damages from the recent tsunami as Peace Corps Crisis Corps volunteers prepare to depart for Thailand in the coming weeks.

Director Vasquez visited Bangkok, Nai Yang Beach where the damage is still evident, the Andaman Coast of southern Thailand north to Phang Nga, and the Ranong Provinces. He also evaluated Haad Sai Khao, a fishing village hit hard by the tsunami and a potential location for the Crisis Corps volunteer efforts.

“In a situation like this where we have people with the skills to make a real impact, we can do nothing less than to call on those talented volunteers – who have served this country before – to once again use their skills during this recovery process,” said Director Vasquez. “Crisis Corps is ready to meet the challenge of working to restore these areas hardest hit by the tsunami and helping the people of Thailand recover from their devastating loss.”

Following the Thailand assessment, Director Vasquez traveled to Sri Lanka and met with officials to discuss whether Crisis Corps volunteers could help with rebuilding efforts there.

One of the primary needs for this assessment is to establish a framework for Crisis Corps volunteers to work with local authorities in rebuilding efforts. Thirty returned Peace Corps volunteers are scheduled to leave soon for Thailand as part of the relief efforts. All of these volunteers formerly served in Thailand, speak the language and are familiar with the local customs. Their efforts will be in support of other relief organizations working to rebuild the tsunami devastated areas.

During the assessment tour, Director Vasquez met with the regional U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Director Tim Beans, a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in South America, as well as Peace Corps Thailand Country Director John Williams.

The Crisis Corps efforts will be assisted by the Peace Corps’ recently established Southeast Asia Tsunami Fund, http://www.peacecorps.gov/tsunami. Contributions to this fund will help address the social and economic reconstruction in the wake of the tsunami devastation. As with all donations to the Peace Corps Partnership Program, 100 percent of every donation is used in the affected communities.

Crisis Corps is made up of returned Peace Corps volunteers. Since its inception in 1996, more than 550 volunteers have served in Crisis Corps, assisting communities through short term projects, utilizing their invaluable skills and experiences. Crisis Corps has responded to more than 300 natural disasters and aided more than 39 communities with their efforts. To learn more about the Peace Corps’ Crisis Corps program, visit the Peace Corps Web site at www.peacecorps.gov/rpcv/crisiscorps.

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