Peace Corps Director to Visit Volunteers and Staff in Africa; First Group of Volunteers in Mozambique will be Sworn-In
January 12, 1999Washington, D.C., January 12, 1999—Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan departs today for a two-week trip to Africa, where he will meet with Peace Corps volunteers in four countries and swear-in the first group of volunteers to serve in Mozambique. "More than one-third of Peace Corps volunteers are serving in Africa and the need for more volunteers to serve there remains strong," Gearan said. "With our new budget and the new millennium just around the corner, we are exploring expanding our programs in Africa, particularly in girls' education and HIV/AIDS prevention." Gearan will meet with volunteers and staff in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Tanzania. On January 14, Gearan will be on hand to swear-in the first group of 24 Peace Corps volunteers in Mozambique, all of whom are English teachers. They began their training in Maputo, the capital, in October 1998, after a special send-off event in Denver with Mozambique Ambassador Marcos Namashulua and Denver Mayor Wellington Webb. Gearan is scheduled to visit Peace Corps volunteers at their sites. He will also attend a conference for all 26 Peace Corps country directors in Africa in Leopard Rock, Zimbabwe to discuss issues and opportunities facing Peace Corps programs in Africa. During the last few days of his visit, Gearan will meet with Peace Corps volunteers and staff in Kenya and Tanzania to acknowledge the exceptional efforts of Peace Corps staff during and following the bombings at the U.S. Embassies there last August, and to express the continued Peace Corps commitment to the region. The Peace Corps will be recruiting more volunteers this year than in the past 25 years, due to an 8 percent budget increase that brought the agency's annual budget to $240 million. Nearly 4,000 volunteers will be recruited this year, which will bring the total number of volunteers to more than 7,400 by the end of the fiscal year, the highest total since the end of 1974. PuCurrently, nearly 6,700 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 80 countries, working to help fight hunger, bring clean water to communities, teach children, help start new small businesses, and stop the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.