Peace Corps Director Meets with Volunteers, Dignitaries in Mauritania and Senegal

June 6, 2002

Washington, D.C., June 6, 2002-Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez recently met with Peace Corps volunteers and officials in Senegal and Mauritania on his latest trip abroad.

On Tuesday in Senegal, Director Vasquez met in the capital city of Dakar, with Peace Corps volunteers and staff and with United States Ambassador to Senegal, Harriet Elam-Thomas. He spoke with Madam Khoudia Seydi Mbaye, the Cabinet Director in the Senegalese Ministry of Public Functions, Employment and Work. Peace Corps volunteers in Senegal work to address the country’s desertification and deteriorating natural resources. Their programs provide assistance with sustainable agriculture, agro-forestry and improve the rice production. In 2002, volunteers provided training to approximately 600 farmers in sustainable agricultural techniques. One volunteer distributed 100 kilograms of locally produced cashew seeds to local farmers, resulting in nearly 50 cashew trees for each of those farmers.

Wednesday in Nouakchott, Mauritania, Director Vasquez had a productive meeting with the country’s president, His Excellency Maaouya Ould Sid' Ahmed Taya. During their meeting, Director Vasquez reported that five Peace Corps volunteers plan to extend their service beyond two years, which is a first for Peace Corps’ Mauritania program, and that 47 new trainees were arriving that evening. The Director said that he would like to place more volunteers in Mauritania in keeping with President Bush's initiative to expand the Peace Corps. Volunteers in Mauritania are involved in programs addressing the country’s agriculture and forestry practices and to improve the capacity of local farmers to produce nutritious food for consumption and income generation.

His Excellency was extremely receptive to the proposed expansion, and relayed how impressed he was when, while visiting Peace Corps volunteers, they greeted him in his local language of Hassanya. Vasquez also met with United States Ambassador to Mauritania John Limbert and visited two Peace Corps sites in Nouakchott, a small enterprise development site and a health center.

Director Vasquez will continue his trip in Africa and visit Peace Corps volunteers and officials in Morocco.

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