Peace Corps Director Travels to Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 9, 2003 –Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez’ travel in Africa will include visits to Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, and Ghana to meet with Peace Corps country staff and volunteers. The Director’s main objective while traveling is to visit volunteers at their project sites and to see first-hand the important work that is being done. In addition, his visit to Ghana will include sessions at the annual meetings of Country Directors from the Africa Region. Director Vasquez will also meet with foreign officials to discuss Peace Corps programs in their respective countries.

While in Namibia, Director Vasquez will meet with U.S. Ambassador Kevin J. McGuire, Namibian Prime Minister Mr. Theo-Ben Guirirab, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Hidipo Hamutenya, and several Peace Corps volunteers at their sites. The Peace Corps entered Namibia, formerly known as West South Africa, in 1990, soon after independence was gained. While serving in the western African nation, volunteers primarily concentrate on education, health care, and HIV/AIDS prevention. Currently, 85 volunteers are serving in the country.

Peace Corps volunteers will return to Swaziland this month with 35 new trainees. During his travels in Swaziland, Director Vasquez will meet with His Majesty King Mswati III at the Lozitha Royal Palace and U.S. Ambassador James McGee to discuss the goals, priorities, and prospects of the renewed program. From 1968-1996, 1,185 total Volunteers served the southern African nation, chiefly working in the areas of education, community development, and agriculture.

While traveling in South Africa, Director Vasquez will be introduced to a South African host family and will meet with the education volunteers who reside in the family’s home. The Peace Corps entered South Africa in 1997, and 332 volunteers have since served. As South Africa continues to struggle to reach its social and economic potential, the Peace Corps has entered a partnership with certain South African educational departments in order to develop a culture of learning, teaching, and service. Volunteers also work to promote HIV/AIDS prevention and NGO development. Currently, 103 volunteers serve in South Africa.

Director Vasquez will participate in the annual Africa Region Country Director’s conference during his stay in Ghana. The Director is also scheduled to meet with President Kufour of Ghana and U.S. Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates. Since the establishment of the program in 1961, over 3,500 volunteers have served in the western African nation of Ghana. Currently, 160 volunteers are completing their two-year service tours, as they work in the areas of business development, health, education, and environmental preservation.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, 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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