Peace Corps Returns to Rwanda

Historic Re-Opening Announced by President Bush

Washington, D.C., February 19, 2008 President George W. Bush, who is visiting Rwanda as part of his five-nation African tour, announced the return of the Peace Corps to Rwanda today, during an open press briefing with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

Well be sending the Peace Corps back into Rwanda, said President Bush. First time its been here since 1993. These are good, decent folks, coming to your country simply to helphelp people realize their God-given talents and realize the blessings of a peaceful, hopeful life.

The Peace Corps will establish an office in Rwanda this summer, and by December, 35 Peace Corps Volunteer-trainees will arrive in the country. Fifteen of the Peace Corps Volunteers will work in the education sector, teaching English, math, science or information technology, while also addressing health and HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness. Twenty Peace Corps Volunteers will be funded by the Presidents Plan for Emergency Relief (PEPFAR) and will focus on HIV/AIDS, collaborating directly with PEPFAR implementing organizations and the Rwandan Ministry of Health. These Volunteers will focus on three main components under PEPFAR: 1) care and treatment; 2) orphan and vulnerable children services; and 3) treatment, including home-based care services.

In the first year, Volunteers will be assigned to and collaborate closely with Rwandan administrative authorities at the district, sector, cell and local levels; international and Rwandan NGOs; associations; cooperatives; and private sector partners.

All Peace Corps Volunteers will receive training in Kinyarwanda and French, live and work for two years at the community level, and collaborate with their counterparts to build capacity and support sustainable HIV prevention efforts. Volunteers will also help build the capacity of rural communities to develop comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategies, and will conduct community-based training and other outreach efforts focused on prevention through abstinence and being faithful. Education Volunteers will incorporate HIV/AIDS prevention activities into their classrooms, train fellow teachers, and organize after school programs.

In 1994, the Peace Corps officially closed its program in Rwanda due to political instability in the country. At the invitation of the Government of Rwanda, Peace Corps will re-establish its presence in Rwanda this year and will play a role in assisting the government to meet its goals as outlined in Rwandas Vision 2020: to reconstruct the nation and its social capital; develop a credible and efficient state governed by the rule of law; develop human resources in line with the objective to turn Rwanda into a prosperous knowledge-based economy; develop basic infrastructure including urban planning; develop entrepreneurship and the private sector; and modernize agriculture and animal husbandry.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 47-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Since 1961, more than 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served, including Rwanda. 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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