Peace Corps Director Visits Panama

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 2004 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez met with Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso and U.S. Ambassador Linda Watt as part of his travels to Central and South America, where he visited with Peace Corps volunteers, staff and officials.

Meeting with Ambassador Watt, Director Vasquez applauded her support of the volunteers and the Peace Corps in Panama. "I speak for many of the volunteers when I say thank you for taking the time to get to know them by visiting their sites and projects, emphasizing how important their roles are in the lives of so many in Panama."

President Moscoso welcomed Director Vasquez and Ambassador Watt to the Presidential Palace on Tuesday to discuss the Peace Corps program in Panama. “The volunteers are providing much needed help in their communities and are teaching the people many things,” said President Moscoso. “Their communities will cry when the volunteers complete their service and return to the United States.”

Currently, there are 141 Peace Corps volunteers serving in Panama, which includes nine married couples and six volunteers participating in the Peace Corps’ Masters International program. Volunteers are working in the areas of sustainable agriculture systems, community economic development, environmental health, and community environment conservation.

Later this month, 34 new trainees will be arriving in Panama to begin work on a rural health project, a new assignment area for the program. Seventy percent of the volunteers in Panama are living and working in areas where at least 70 percent of the population is at the poverty level, and 30 percent live in indigenous communities. Since the program’s inception in 1963, the Peace Corps has sent more than 1,300 volunteers to Panama.

Since 1961, more than 171,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, 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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