Peace Corps Director Celebrates 45th Anniversary of Peace Corps in Niger

September 25, 2007

Director Tschetter Travels to West Africa to Celebrate 45 Years of Continuous Presence In-Country

NIAMEY, NIGER, Sept. 25, 2007 - Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter participated in a festive celebration today commemorating the 45th Anniversary of the Peace Corps in Niger. Since 1962, over 3,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Niger to promote peace, friendship and a better understanding of America.

The outdoor ceremony, hosted at the Peace Corps headquarters in Niamey, was attended by over 200 people ranging from U.S. Ambassador Bernadette Allen, to currently serving Peace Corps Volunteers, to high ranking Nigerien government officials, many of whom were taught by Peace Corps Volunteers. Music, dancing and Volunteer project displays were part of the afternoon celebration.

In his remarks, Tschetter said, "As I have traveled around Niger, I have seen the wonderful work of the Volunteers and the strong collaboration between the Volunteers and the people of Niger. Whether it is in natural resource management, community health, agriculture, community and youth education, or municipal development, the work of the Peace Corps is sustainable and has been working continuously for 45 years because of our friendship with the people. These strong bonds of trust, understanding, and caring will absolutely contribute to peace and freedom."

U.S. Ambassador Allen said, "The Peace Corps Volunteers work hand-in-hand with the people of Niger. The Nigeriens have accepted the Volunteers as their own family. I thank all who have made this special relationship possible."

Today's ceremony marks the end of Director Tschetter's busy four-day visit to Niger. While here in-country he swore-in the 41 new Peace Corps Volunteer trainees, visited many of the 96 Volunteers at their sites, including spending an evening with Agriculture Volunteer Jason McClure of Peru, Indiana in his host village. Tschetter also met with Peace Corps staff, various high-ranking Nigerien government officials including the President of Niger, Mamadou Tandja, and a number of local leaders to thank them for their long standing support of the Peace Corps.

Niger is plagued by chronic food security problems, contributing to the country having one of the worlds highest mortality rates. Tschetter visited with Sarah Pharr, a health Volunteer from Alexandria, Va. Pharr lives in a small village and is teaching basic preventative health and methods for rehabilitating malnourished children and at a health center in her community. Women walk for days with their ailing infants to reach the center, and Pharr said that the need is great: "These families simply cannot provide enough nourishment to sustain the babies."

Tschetter also visited health Volunteer Luis Chaidez of Montebello, California. In addition to teaching basic nutrition, Chaidez recognized another great need in his community. In working with Rotary International, Chaidez obtained a grant to install a pulley system on the town well, saving countless hours of labor for the women of his village and providing better access to clean water for the entire community.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Since 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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