Peace Corps Director Visits Kenya and Unique Deaf Education Program

June 26, 2006

Peace Corps Volunteers Standardize Kenyan Sign Language and
Distribute First Sign Language Poster

NAIROBI, KENYA - JUNE 26, 2007 - Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter today concludes his five day visit to Kenya where he met with Peace Corps Volunteers, staff, media, and government officials. Since 1965, more than 5,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Kenya. Currently, 134 Volunteers are working here in the areas of education, small business development, and health and HIV/AIDS prevention.

In a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannenberger and Kenya's Minister of Education George Saitoti, Tschetter said, "The Peace Corps program in Kenya remains strong. I am impressed with the many wonderful achievements of the Volunteers here and look forward to continuing to develop our partnership with the people of Kenya long into the future."

Ambassador Rannenberger also commented, The relationship between the United States and Kenya is stronger than ever and the Peace Corps is an important and positive component of that partnership."

A highlight of Tschetter's trip was a visit on June 25 to a school for children who are deaf in central Kenya where Peace Corps Volunteer Erin Hayba, of Lovettsville, Va., and a recent graduate of Penn State University, serves. Erin is among 29 Volunteers currently serving in deaf education in Kenya, Peace Corps only deaf education program country. This unique program began in 1992 as a way to train educators on better teaching methods, and to broaden the production of learning materials and facilities for deaf and hard of hearing students. The program now includes computer training and health and HIV/AIDS education programs, as part of the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief.

At the school, Tschetter observed several role playing exercises, educational videos featuring deaf students, and other visual aids that the Volunteers have developed, including Kenya's first uniform sign language poster, the "Easy to Learn Sign Language Poster."

Peace Corps Volunteers Sam Roberts, of Greensboro, N.C., and Frank Lester, of San Francisco, Calif., who is deaf, worked with other Volunteers and Kenyan counterparts to standardize the sign language used in Kenya, called Kenyan Sign language and to develop the poster. This poster will be distributed to every deaf household in Kenya in the next three months, and to hospitals and other facilities.

The schools principal, Annie Maina, said that the Peace Corps program, "Has improved the lives of many deaf people in Kenya." She added, "Peace Corps Volunteers have made deaf education more accessible and shown that a disability is not an inability."

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for Volunteers in the field. 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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