Peace Corps Director for the Africa Region

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 22, 2003 – In an effort to advance the Digital Freedom Initiative (DFI) and meet with health and education Peace Corps volunteers, Africa Regional Director Henry McKoy arrived in Sénégal this week. This is the first stop on McKoy’s three-country visit of West Africa, where he will also meet with Peace Corps volunteers, staff, and government officials in The Gambia and Guinea.

McKoy’s visit to Sénégal will focus on DFI’s pilot partnership aimed at spurring economic growth and reducing poverty through public-private sector approaches to information communications technology solutions. The DFI’s goal is to help create and sustain free markets in developing counties, such as Sénégal, by placing volunteers from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with small businesses to initiate an entrepreneurial spirit capable of bringing economic opportunities to the developing world. The DFI is a collaborative effort of the Peace Corps, the U.S Department of Commerce, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and USA Freedom Corps.

“Although this project is in the beginning stages, it offers real promise for the local people of Sénégal and Peace Corps volunteers. I am anxious to meet with volunteers and officials to see how we are harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit and working through the Digital Freedom Initiative,” McKoy said.

The Peace Corps began work in Sénégal in 1963, and since then, 2,512 volunteers have worked in the country. Volunteers train healthcare workers in disease prevention, work to create sustainable agricultural techniques, teach environmental awareness, and help to develop effective marketing information systems and improve organizational and financial management practices for small businesses.

Following Sénégal, McKoy will spend time at education and health training villages in The Gambia and Guinea. He will meet with ambassadors, health, education, and medical Peace Corps volunteers, USAID representatives, President Jammeh of The Gambia, and other foreign officials.

In The Gambia, the Peace Corps currently has 118 volunteers collaborating closely with Gambians to alleviate the effects of certain environmental and economic conditions on development, as well as, work to promote awareness of pediatric health and HIV/AIDS. Currently, there are 90 Peace Corps volunteers serving in Guinea, concentrating their efforts upon four aspects of Guinean life: education, health, agro-forestry, and the environment. Volunteers have been active in providing secondary Guinean students with quality education in math and English, promoting environmental preservation, and endorsing HIV/AIDS prevention.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS education, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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