Peace Corps to Receive Record Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2004 –The United States Senate passed the Omnibus Appropriations Conference Report this week, which will provide the Peace Corps with $308 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2004, with the possibility of additional funding from the President’s Global AIDS Initiative for the agency’s efforts to fight the AIDS epidemic. Pending the President’s signature, this year’s Peace Corps budget will be the largest appropriation in the history of the agency.

In conjunction with the President’s Global AIDS Initiative, the Peace Corps continues to increase its commitment to fight the growth of the AIDS epidemic. In May 2003, the Peace Corps committed 1,000 new volunteers to work on HIV/AIDS related activities. The Peace Corps is also training all volunteers who serve in Africa, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia as advocates and educators on HIV/AIDS prevention and care. In fact, the Peace Corps programs in Swaziland and Botswana are entirely focused on HIV/AIDS education and awareness programs.

“Last year, Peace Corps volunteers touched the lives of nearly 400,000 individuals, including approximately 30,000 orphans and vulnerable children,” Director Gaddi H. Vasquez stated. “We are fully committed to the Global AIDS Initiative and this record level of funding and support will help us reach even more people in Africa and the Caribbean.”

The Peace Corps serves in 9 countries included in the Global AIDS Initiative—Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Guyana.

Today, more than 2,300 Peace Corps volunteers are working in more than 55 posts around the world on HIV/AIDS projects and programs. Over the last year, volunteers have collaborated with more than 1,100 organizations worldwide, such as NGOs, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other groups.

Volunteers employ a variety of activities in their education and awareness projects, such as training youth as peer educators, working with faith-based organizations on prevention messages, coordinating with boys and girls camps, organizing awareness raising events, teaching behavior change communication, and training youth leaders. In addition, volunteers provide support to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and work to develop programs that provide support to communities affected by the disease.

The Peace Corps provides practical assistance to developing countries by sharing America’s most precious resource, its people. Through the work and contributions of its volunteers over the past 42 years, the Peace Corps has emerged as a model of success for encouraging sustainable development at the grass-roots level. The Peace Corps’ larger purpose is to empower people in developing countries to take charge of their own future and strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding between Americans and the people of other cultures.

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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