December 30, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 30, 2005 Peace Corps marked 2005 with a series of firsts and notable accomplishments, as the agency rounded out the year with a 30-year high in the number of volunteers in service.
"This has been a truly exceptional year for us here at Peace Corps. Our volunteers have demonstrated their flexibility and eagerness to respond, particularly in times of crisis. Now, as our dedicated volunteers strive for sustainable development throughout the world, Peace Corps is also gearing up for the agencys anniversary in 2006 as we recognize 45 years of achievements to the global community," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez.
Some of the significant achievements and highlights of the 7,810 volunteers serving in 77 countries around the globe this past year include:Peace Corps Deploys in U.S.: For the first time in history, through the Crisis Corps program, returned Peace Corps volunteers were deployed domestically to assist in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. To date, 272 volunteers have engaged in various projects, and most recently helped open a new disaster recovery center in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, the area most damaged by the hurricane.Crisis Corps Offers Post-Tsunami Relief: Crisis Corps teams were sent to Southeast Asia after the tsunami hit the region. Twenty-seven volunteers have been sent to Sri Lanka and another 27 to Thailand. In Sri Lanka, volunteers assisted in reconstruction efforts, coordination among non-governmental organizations, and provided recreational and educational activities to residents in displaced persons camps. In Thailand, volunteers assisted in the construction of a potable water treatment plant, as well as serving in the areas of mental health, information technology, and community development.Peace Corps Volunteers Meet President and Mrs. Bush: During a visit to the American Embassy in Panama, President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush met with volunteers working in the country. The President and First Lady reaffirmed their support for Peace Corps, particularly for the agency's work in the field of HIV/AIDS, assisted by funding from the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. President Bush also met with Peace Corps staff during his visit to Mongolia. Additionally, Mrs. Bush met with volunteers in Jordan, and in May, she recognized the winners of a Peace Corps volunteer-sponsored essay contest, known as the "Writing Olympics," in the Republic of Georgia.Peace Corps Receives 2005 Medgar Evers Award: Honoring the Peace Corps' commitment to humanitarian work among people of all races, the agency was the recipient of the Honorary Committee's 2005 Medgar Evers Politics and Peace Award. It was the first time that a federal agency has received the award.Volunteers Key Support to Guatemala Relief Effort: Peace Corps volunteers responded to the devastation in Guatemala caused by mudslides related to Hurricane Stan. Volunteers began reconstruction efforts by working with disaster relief officials on damage assessments, assisting with relief operations, volunteering at temporary shelters, and helping families repair houses and schools. Peace Corps Advertising Campaign Takes It to the Streets: In an historic first, the Peace Corps' recruitment advertising campaign, "Life is calling. How far will you go?," went beyond the traditional borders of television, radio and print when the national campaign appeared on buses and trains in 27 markets around the country, including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, San Francisco, Detroit and Atlanta. The campaign seeks to broaden Peace Corps' recruitment outreach to new markets and potential volunteers from all walks of life.Volunteer's Project Chopotential volunteers from all walks of life.Volunteer's Project Chosen as Finalist for World Challenge Competition: Peace Corps volunteer Chris Bartlett spearheaded the Rechargeable Battery and Reef Rehab Project in Vanuatu, which helps harness solar energy for electricity. Bartletts project was featured on BBC World and in the international issues of Newsweek. The World Challenge Competition aims to find individuals or groups from around the world who have shown enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level to help protect the earth. Peace Corps and NBA Help Relief Efforts in Grenada: Grenada volunteer Micah Strand and NBA player Etan Thomas, of Grenadian heritage, each wanted to make a difference in the wake of Hurricane Ivan, which destroyed thousands of homes and businesses on the island and caused $815 million in damage. Their efforts resulted in the donation of 14 basketball facilities to replace those destroyed by the hurricane. The donation, made by the NBA and Spalding, encourages positive activities for potentially at-risk youth.
Since 1961, more than 182,000 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 27-month commitment.